Virginia Aims for Dramatic Growth in Electric Trucks by Joining National Effort

Dec 10, 2021 9:00 AM ET
Campaign: State Policy
buses in the setting sun

December 10, 2021 /3BL Media/ - The Commonwealth of Virginia took a step to expand its leadership role in tackling transportation-related climate pollution today, signing an agreement with 15 other states to work together to grow the market for zero-emission commercial vehicles like trucks and vans.

Major companies operating in Virginia celebrated Gov. Ralph Northam’s move to sign the agreement, called the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Virginia is the first state to join the agreement since it was first announced in 2020, joining 15 others and Washington, D.C.

“As the home to the deepest port on the East Coast, an integrated transportation system, and a highly skilled labor force, Virginia is an attractive investment destination for DHL’s customers, particularly in the manufacturing sector,” said Reiner Wolfs, Area Vice President, Northeast USA, DHL Express. “DHL has committed to electrifying 60% of our global fleet by 2030 and to invest in sustainable long-haul transportation on our journey to net zero emissions by 2050, and we welcome the support that Gov. Northam and his administration have shown to the future deployment of zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks on Virginia’s roads.”

“Nestlé is committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 across our businesses and supply chain in the U.S. and around the globe. This will require a shift in how we move people and goods around the country to incorporate more zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles,” said Frank Taylor, Policy Analyst, Nestlé. “We commend Gov. Northam for his continued commitment to climate action and ensuring Virginia remains at the forefront of the clean energy and transportation transition.”

The agreement is designed to help states collaborate on strategies and plans that will dramatically increase the number of clean medium- and heavy-duty vehicles on the road in the coming years to address transportation pollution, which is the leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. It includes a goal for all large commercial vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2050, with an interim goal of 30% by 2030, and encourages states to develop plans to transition their own fleets to clean vehicles.

These targets are critical to addressing climate pollution, because commercial vehicles are responsible for a disproportionate share of it. Although they represent just 10% of U.S. traffic, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles generate nearly a quarter of emissions from the transportation sector. They are also the source of even greater rates of dangerous air pollutants that cause heart and lung disease, and especially afflict communities located near highways, busy roads, and freight centers.

Many leading companies that operate widely across U.S. roadways have shown they are eager to electrify their fleets. In 2020, the sustainability nonprofit Ceres launched the Corporate Electric Vehicle Alliance (CEVA) to help companies work together on efforts to quickly develop and widely deploy zero-emission commercial vehicles. These companies—which include Amazon, American Airlines, Best Buy, DHL, and Ikea—see electric trucks and vans as key to achieving their own internal emission goals, as well as unlocking bottom-line benefits like reduced fuel and maintenance costs. Some clean trucks and vans already have lower overall life-cycle costs than diesel-powered vehicles. However, many of the vehicle models that these companies need are not yet being built or are not available at scale.

“Freight delivery is at the heart of our economy, and companies up and down the supply chain want to put cleaner trucks on the road,” said Jennifer Helfrich, senior manager, state policy, Ceres. “Policymakers must jumpstart this market if we’re going to ensure companies are able to benefit from the cost-savings that electric trucks provide. By joining this pact, Virginia is taking critical action to spark the zero-emission truck market, clean the air in communities across the Commonwealth, and unlock jobs and infrastructure investments that will benefit generations of residents in the state and beyond.”

The 15 states that had previously signed the MOU are: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C. Several of these states are now considering adopting the Advanced Clean Trucks rule, which would require zero-emission trucks to represent a growing portion of vehicle sales over time, as well as the Heavy Duty Omnibus rule, which would require those diesel trucks that are still sold to be equipped with technology that significantly reduces emissions of harmful pollutants.

In Virginia, joining the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle MOU is the latest in a series of ambitious climate policies adopted by the state. Earlier this year, the state joined more than a dozen across the country to implement the clean car standards that are used by more than a dozen states across the country to limit emissions and facilitate the growth of electric passenger vehicles. In 2020, Virginia lawmakers committed the state to sourcing 100% of electricity from carbon-free sources by 2050.

About Ceres
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit and follow @CeresNews.

Media Contact: Helen Booth-Tobin,, 617-247-0700 ext. 214