As Congress moves to extend and expand the federal EV tax credit for passenger cars, it's also considering a bill that would add a first-ever tax credit for electric commercial vehicles.
As described in a blog post from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), the current version of the bill includes a tax credit of up to $7,500 for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of less than 14,000 pounds, including pickup trucks and vans, and up to $40,000 for larger vehicles like semi trucks and garbage trucks.
The bill also sets out a minimum battery-pack size of 7 kwh for sub-14,000-pound GVWR vehicles and 15 kwh for larger vehicles. As with the current passenger-car tax credit, vehicles with larger packs will likely receive a larger credit.
In addition to the incentives, which would run through 2032, the bill also includes $1 billion to fund electric heavy-duty commercial vehicles (including school buses) and infrastructure, and $3 billion for the electrification of the new United States Postal Service delivery fleet and associated charging infrastructure.
The commercial-truck incentives are part of the same bill and legislation package that might potentially re-up the EV tax credit to lift the 200,000-vehicle ceiling, make the $7,500 credit a point-of-sale one, and add $4,000 for used EVs. And it could have a comparably-large impact on emissions.
Despite accounting for only 10% of vehicles on U.S. roads, heavy-duty commercial vehicles are responsible for 28% of greenhouse gas emissions, 45% or nitrogen-oxide emissions, and 57% of fine particulate emissions, according to the UCS. California has already issued a mandate for electric trucks, aiming for 100% EV sales by 2045.
Volta Trucks California
Some manufacturers have started marketing all-electric commercial trucks. Megawatt charging for big trucks has just been formalized, and models utilizing it might be available in the next year or two. Research suggests incentives could dramatically accelerate that market.
Real-world testing has verified the cost savings of electric trucks—and helped realize that electric trucks lower the level of driver fatigue. That's what Daimler found after a test fleet of electric trucks racked up one million miles with actual customers. Operating costs for electric trucks can be 14% to 52% lower, and repair costs 40% lower, than current diesel trucks, the UCS estimates.
Incentives or not, a broader coalition of states is preparing to mandate more zero-emission commercial vehicles. Seventeen states, the District of Columbia, and Canada's Quebec province recently stood by a plan to electrify 30% of trucks and buses by 2030—despite a legal challenge that's coming, partly, from inside the industry that's simultaneously talking up EVs and looking for the credit.