Transportation is currently the number one source of global warming pollution in the U.S. and is motivating nationwide efforts to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Carbon-intensive medium- and heavy-duty trucking has come under particular scrutiny because of the disproportionately high impact of diesel usage.

Reducing emissions from the trucking industry is becoming a higher priority as policies emerge to incentivize, and in some cases, mandate change in the transportation sector. As one example, the recent Multi-State Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucking Memorandum of Understanding has been adopted by 15 states and the District of California to accelerate the market for zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. This joint agreement sets a goal for at least 30 percent zero-emission vehicle sales by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. If these goals are met, in less than 30 years, every truck sold in these jurisdictions must be emissions-free.

In another far-reaching example, California adopted a first-in-the-world rule in June 2020 requiring truck manufacturers to transition to zero-emission vehicles by 2045. This mandate will help California reach its climate goals over the next two decades, and sends an important message to other governments, manufacturers and fleet owners that zero-emission efforts must start now. Given the likely economic, social and political effects of the climate crisis and the previously under-recognized harmful effects of poor air quality, aggressive actions such as these are warranted.

These regulations and policies are not the only factors at play. Other major motivators for businesses to reevaluate their transportation networks include the widespread consumer preference toward climate-conscious businesses, emerging climate demands from investors, and improved operational and energy efficiencies that are becoming more widely available.

Consumer Sentiment Change

As the urgency around climate change and air pollution deepens along with heightened public awareness, today’s consumers are changing their purchasing behaviors to support companies working to reduce emissions. In fact, 73 percent of the U.S. public is willing to change their consumption habits to align with businesses supporting climate efforts, according to a new study by IBM and the National Retail Federation.

Understanding the role that business supply chains play in air pollution is leading more companies to publicly declare their efforts to reduce transportation emissions from shipping operations. Microsoft and Apple are examples of companies establishing aggressive zero-emission goals, each with specific plans to decarbonize their transportation networks.

Fuel cell vehicles will play a major role in these efforts, especially in the MD/HD transportation sector. PepsiCo has announced that it will achieve net-zero emissions by 2040. It is impossible to meet such targets without the transition from diesel and other carbon-based fuels to renewably generated hydrogen.

Investor Commitment

Major investment banks understand the impact that zero-emission operations will have on overall business value. The companies that can keep up with rising expectations and requirements from both consumers and regulatory agencies are those that will sustain a leadership role for years to come. BlackRock is among those that consider sustainability the new pillar of finance in the 21st century

Investors of all kinds will finance those companies, organizations and initiatives that are proactively reducing air emissions and keeping ahead of the regulatory avalanche that has already begun. To thrive in this new competitive environment, businesses must have comprehensive environmental mitigation plans and embrace innovative solutions to these unprecedented challenges.

Operational Efficiencies

While winning the favor of consumers and investors provides an essential competitive edge for fleet operators, the benefits of building zero-emission supply chains will also help to make operations more efficient. When it comes to medium- and heavy-duty trucking, fuel cells in particular are being recognized as a viable option given the requirements of many applications and the current state of technology options. Fuel cell-powered electric trucks enable longer routes than battery-only trucks and significantly reduce fueling times, while retaining the reduced maintenance requirements associated with electric drivetrains.

Nuvera’s Value: Speed to Market in a Fast-Changing World

At Nuvera, we believe that fuel cells provide the best answer to reaching carbon neutral goals while still reaping operational benefits for medium- and heavy-duty trucking applications.

In particular, our E-Series Fuel Cell Engines are specifically designed for long-haul requirements and high-uptime not compromised by battery vehicle range limitations and charging times. Our newest offerings are a product of our decades of experience developing advanced motive power platforms and continuous innovation. Nuvera fuel cell engines are easily integrated into electric drivetrains with complementary energy storage systems such as lithium-ion batteries, accelerating our partners’ development time and speed to market.

It’s good news that the same measures that vehicle and equipment OEMs adopt to reduce their environmental impact are the same ones that provide them the means to improve their operational efficiencies and position themselves ahead of competitors for the inevitable changes to come. With rapid changes in the regulatory landscape and the availability of robust zero-emissions solutions, the time to explore the fuel cell alternative is now.