Pledging to Drive to Zero

The Global Commercial Vehicle Drive to Zero Initiative (Drive to Zero) was born out of analysis performed by CALSTART for the California Air Resources Board that identified the challenges, barriers and technology pathways forward to achieving a rapid transformation to low carbon, near- and zero-emission commercial vehicles. From this analysis of technology status, emerging production capability, vehicle duty cycles and business cases most conducive in the near term for transformation, a strategy for change was developed and enacted, particularly around opportunities to expand the medium- and heavy-duty near- and zero-emission commercial vehicle (ZECV) market.[1]

The Drive to Zero program is a vision driven by a unique strategy: rather than an uncoordinated approach, focus policies and investments on the first-success markets where near and zero-emission commercial vehicles will work; in regions which will support them; then rapidly grow out succeeding follow-on markets.The strategy begins by focusing on 8-10 key vehicle types – transit buses first; then shuttle vans, package and delivery vans and trucks; then terminal tractors, port equipment, and regional distribution (freight) trucks.

Based on how these vehicles are used, their economics, and technology readiness, they can achieve commercial success with the right combination of suppporting public policies and private investments by as early as 2025. These targeted vehicle types in the Drive to Zero derive directly from research embraced by California and its Air Resources Board to meet their 2030 emission reduction strategy.

The Strategy: Target the right vehicles for first-market success, in the right order for sustainable industry growth, in the right regions embracing and supporting change. Collaboration and concurrent action is key to success and needed volumes. The result can be viable products by 2025 in all segments.

Recognizing that the regional and national challenges of rapidly expanding ZECV adoption are globally connected, CALSTART launched Drive to Zero to connect stakeholders and identify solutions that will reduce the barriers inherent to bringing a new technology to market. By bringing stakeholders from government, industry, fleets, fuel providers and non-profits together, Drive to Zero aims to establish early targeted markets – primarily around urban region vehicle applications – that can serve as first successes, or “beachheads,” that will enable the ZECV industry to expand rapidly by increasing vehicle volumes, expanding supply chain volumes of components and transferring them to additional and larger market segments.  These targeted expansions will directly improve urban air quality while helping to build critical capacity to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets.

The five-year plus initiative will engage stakeholders from all sectors of the ZECV policy and market to identify promising and successful local, regional, and national policies and actions that will promote the uptake ZECVs and to collaborate on sharing and implementing these policies and actions. By establishing first-success beachhead markets in fast adopting cities and regions around the world, Drive to Zero will help transform the global vehicle market to achieve market-competitive products in all targeted applications by 2025. This will create meaningful and sustainable employment in ZECV production, reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of building and operating ZECVs, and expanding beyond beachhead markets to create a connected global economy of clean commercial vehicles by 2040.

Drive to Zero encourages cities, government agencies, vehicle manufacturers, fleets and fuel providers to sign a pledge that recognizes these principles and goals. Drive to Zero signatories commit to a strategy that will “significantly reduce criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases by enabling and expanding the use of zero emission technology in targeted segments (“beachheads”) of the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle market on a worldwide basis.”[2] Participants will commit to working together to ensure the success of beachhead markets in targeted regions in North America, China, India, Japan, Europe, and South America. The pledge is non-binding, but does publicly recognize participation in the program while creating substantial opportunities to draw from the considerable experience of fellow participants.

CALSTART will serve as the Secretariat by organizing and connecting the program, providing support by convening participants regularly at international workshops and meetings, providing information sharing between regions and stakeholders on tools and strategies to speed adoption, and giving technical support to partners. Separately and on an ongoing basis, CALSTART will collect information, provide analysis, and support meaningful action in the targeted regions and markets.

The Pledge: Cities, governments, manufacturers, fleets and fuel suppliers agree to work together to accelerate the early first-success markets for zero- and near-zero emission trucks, buses and equipment.

More information and a link to sign the pledge can be found at

[1] For the purposes of this project, the term zero emissions shall also include, particularly for longer-haul traffic, vehicles with ultra-low emissions (90% lower than the current US M-HDV standard) and operate on 100% renewable fuels).