California Ups Weight Limit for Natural Gas HDVs

| USA: Sacramento CA | Source: Government of California

The U.S. State of California last week passed legislation to modify existing state law that sets specified limits on the total gross weight imposed on the highway by a vehicle with any group of 2 or more consecutive axles. By doing so, the law removes the unintended economic restriction upon natural gas and other alt-fuel vehicles with fuel systems heavier than that used for conventional fuels.

This bill would authorize a near-zero-emission vehicle or a zero-emission vehicle, as defined, to exceed axle, tandem, gross, or 96 bridge formula weight limits, up to a 2,000 pound maximum, by an amount equal to the difference between the weight of the vehicle attributable to the fueling and propulsion system carried by that vehicle and the weight of a comparable diesel fueling and propulsion system.

In  California legislation, the terms “near-zero-emission vehicle” and “zero-emission vehicle” have the same meanings as defined in subdivisions (c) and (d) of Section 44258 of the Health and Safety Code:

(c) “Near-zero-emission vehicle” means a vehicle that utilizes zero-emission technologies, enables technologies that provide a pathway to zero-emissions operations, or incorporates other technologies that significantly reduce criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gas emissions, as defined by the state board in consultation with the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission consistent with meeting the state’s mid- and long-term air quality standards and climate goals.

(d) “Zero-emission vehicle” means a vehicle that produces no emissions of criteria pollutants, toxic air contaminants, and greenhouse gases when stationary or operating, as determined by the state board.

The bill (AB 2061) was signed in law by California Gov. Jerry Brown, effective January 1. Authored by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), the bill allows near-zero-emission or zero-emission vehicles to weigh up to 82,000 pounds. The revision removes the need for natural gas powered trucks to limit their load to stay within the 80,000 pound limit, a compliance consequence that was effectively reducing income capacity for low-emission vehicle operators.

“This law makes it easier for fleets to adopt all types of alternative fuel technologies, and it recognizes the importance of near-zero heavy-duty NGVs to California’s long-term transportation strategy,” said Thomas Lawson, president of the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition. The Coalition sponsored the bill along with CALSTART and the San Diego County Disposal Association.

“Allowing NGVs to carry the same weight of goods will cut down on NGV truck trips, reducing emissions even further. It also eliminates a disincentive to switch from diesel to natural gas”, Lawson continued.

The legislation mirrors the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act of 2015, which modified truck size and weight provisions to compensate for the heavier fuel and tank systems of NGVs. The FAST Act applies only to federal interstate highways; it allows each state to decide whether to increase its limits.

Kenworth now offers of buyers of the T680, T880 and T880S models the option to deliver the vehicle with the Cummins Westport 8.9-liter L9N rated at 320 hp and 1,000 lb-ft of torque. The engine operates on 100% natural gas, which can be carried on the vehicle in compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied natural gas (LNG) form. The engine also is compatible with renewable natural gas (RNG), which can provide further reductions in GHG emissions.

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