Working Paper

No fleet left behind: Barriers and opportunities for small fleet zero-emission trucking

This paper evaluates the zero-emission truck market and suggests actions to overcome barriers for adoption for small fleets. Failing to support small fleets would put them at risk of being unable to transition to zero-emission vehicles, in turn putting jurisdictions at risk of failing to achieve emissions reduction targets.

Through surveys interviews with stakeholders, the authors find that the top three barriers of greatest concern for those in smaller fleets were the total cost of ownership, insufficient government support, and upfront cost. These smaller fleets tend to have small operating margins, have low access to capital, and often purchase used diesel trucks. Smaller fleets, and particularly owner-operators, are also dependent on public amenities like parking, charging, and hydrogen fueling infrastructure. Beyond access to physical resources, small fleets are typically not included in zero-emission truck pilot studies and only have surface-level knowledge of zero-emission trucks.

The findings suggest following actions would help to address barriers for small fleets to transition to zero-emission:

  • Set aside small fleet ZET incentive funding to keep small fleets from having to compete with larger fleets with greater resources.
  • Offer incentives for used zero-emission trucks and create data transparency requirements to alleviate uncertainty about long-term battery and vehicle health.
  • Support third parties who can aggregate demand, facilitate incentive access, provide financing options, and provide consulting services to small fleets.
  • Increase focus on the build-out of publicly accessible charging and refueling infrastructure.
  • Share information from ZET pilots and tailor outreach to channels already frequented by truck operators to reduce the information asymmetry between large fleets and small fleets.