Zero by 2040: C2ES on Medium & Heavy Trucks 

Press Release
March 9, 2023
Contact: Alec Gerlach, 


Zero by 2040: C2ES on Medium & Heavy Trucks  

Brief Outlines Policies to Accelerate Zero-Emission Truck Deployment

Read the Brief

WASHINGTON—The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) today released a brief identifying key policy and regulatory needs to accelerate the transition to zero-emitting medium- and heavy-duty trucks (MHD). Clearing Roadblocks for Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Transportation underscores the importance of MHDs reaching net-zero by 2040, highlighting crucial investments in electric grid and hydrogen infrastructure to reach that goal.  

“We have to build on recent federal investments to fully decarbonize the medium- and heavy-duty truck fleet in the United States by midcentury. Further expanding charging and refueling infrastructure, improving battery technologies and growing clean hydrogen production will all require proactive policy support. These investments can help meet our emissions goals, ensure these technologies are developed and manufactured in the United States, and deliver air quality benefits for frontline communities nationwide” said C2ES Vice President for Policy and Outreach Brad Townsend  

While light-duty zero-emission vehicle adoption is growing rapidly, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles contribute outsized levels of carbon dioxide emissions and other harmful air pollutants. In addition to benefits that mitigate climate pollution and improve public health, MHD vehicle electrification could offer greater long-term fuel cost savings and enhanced community resilience. C2ES also recommends that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) strengthen federal emissions standards to reach 100 percent zero-emission vehicle sales for all new medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by or before 2040. 

The brief finds that a growing number of MHD uses are conducive to electrification—whether battery electric or hydrogen fuel cell electric—including delivery vehicles, school and transit buses, regional freight trucks, drayage vehicles, and other work vehicles. 

“There’s a valuable opportunity to cut major sources of emissions through medium- and heavy-duty trucks since a high percentage are fleet-based, commercial or public-use vehicles,” said C2ES Associate Policy Fellow Stephanie Gagnon, who authored the brief. “Addressing the transportation sector—the highest-emitting—means we have to move quickly and invest in a modern infrastructure that will fuel the U.S. economy through better and cleaner technology.” *

While many federal and state policies currently support medium- and heavy-duty truck electrification, additional policy needs should be considered to: 

  • Support technology development and innovation: Congress should provide additional funding to improve battery efficiency and green hydrogen production efficiency. The Department of Energy (DOE) should also conduct battery-swapping pilots for federal and commercial MHD fleets to explore cost and performance feasibility. 
  • Expanding accessible MHD charging and refueling infrastructure: Congress and state legislatures should increase and expand eligibility for commercial charging/refueling infrastructure tax credits. Congress should also fund grants for grid upgrades, and the DOE should prioritize clean hydrogen development along freight corridors. In addition, federal regulators should update drivers’ hours of service regulations to accommodate charging times. 
  • Accelerating vehicle deployment: The EPA and NHTSA should strengthen federal emissions standards to reach 100 percent zero-emissions MHD vehicle sales no later than 2040, and earlier where possible. Congress should also provide block grants for states and municipalities to replace government MHD vehicles with zero-emission vehicles, prioritizing high-pollution areas. To overcome potential wariness about newer technologies, the Departments of Transportation, Labor, and Education should fund and provide education, outreach, and workforce training initiatives to fleet owners, operators, drivers, and service technicians on zero-emission vehicle operation, charging management, and cost-benefit analysis. 

Read the whole brief here: Clearing Roadblocks for Zero-Emission Medium- and Heavy-Duty Transportation 


About C2ES: The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) works to secure a safe and stable climate, by accelerating the global transition to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and a thriving, just, and resilient economy. Learn more at