February 13, 2017
The Coalition has asked CARB to increase the incentive amounts for low-NOx NGV engines in this year’s approved Low Carbon Transportation Spending Plan, and to make more significant changes in next year’s plan.
Coalition President Thomas Lawson proposed the changes during a Feb. 10 CARB meeting to discuss the 2016–17 Low Carbon Transportation Spending Plan, which funds the Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project (HVIP). CARB and CALSTART launched the HVIP in 2009 to accelerate the adoption of cleaner, more-efficient trucks and buses in California through point-of-sale incentives and vouchers. Low-NOx natural gas engines became eligible for the program in May 2016.
To get low-NOx heavy-duty trucks onto California’s roads and into the ports faster, however, CARB needs to offer higher-value vouchers for low-NOx NGV engines, Lawson said.
“To incentivize the move to a cleaner technology, there needs to be equity in the way voucher amounts are calculated,” he said. “Currently, customers receive a larger voucher amount for moving from diesel to electric vehicles because NGV vouchers are calculated on the basis of moving from an existing natural gas engine to a low-NOx natural gas engine.”
For the current year, Lawson asked CARB to adjust the incremental cost formula for low-NOx NGV engine incentives with renewable fuel by using a diesel vehicle as the baseline and increasing the per-vehicle voucher amount accordingly, or by providing a standard $25,000 for any vehicle equipped with a low-NOx natural gas engine.
“Many stakeholders have noted that the current low-NOx voucher amount isn’t enough to incentivize a fleet to switch to a cleaner technology, especially when that voucher is tied to a 100 percent renewable fuel requirement,” said Lawson. Following the meeting, he sent CARB a letter detailing the Coalition’s comments and proposed changes.
Looking forward to the 2017–18 plan, the Coalition suggested five fundamental changes to the HVIP.
- Change the definition of “incremental cost” to reflect the cost of switching from a diesel-powered vehicle to one with a low-NOx natural gas engine, creating parity with the incentives other technologies receive.
- Increase the per-engine amount of each low-NOx NGV voucher, because lowering the up-front capital costs for fleets is essential to the success of the program. Also consider providing additional funding to cover training and other costs associated with switching to a low-carbon renewable fuel, as the hybrid and electric engine incentive programs do.
- Simplify the low-NOx natural gas engine voucher structure, which varies drastically between vehicle makes and models equipped with low-NOx engines.
- Raise awareness of the HVIP program in the NGV industry and educate fleets and other stakeholders on how to access the vouchers.
- Explain the reasoning behind the 100 percent renewable-fuel requirement and why a lower percentage is not an option.
“Everyone’s goal should be to reduce the number of diesel vehicles on the road, especially in the heavy-duty sector. It’s especially important that CARB incentivize that transition as the 11.9-liter low-NOx natural gas engine joins the 8.9-liter engine on the market next year,” said Lawson. “These changes in the next funding plan are important to getting this low-NOx natural gas technology adopted in California, especially around the ports.”CARB, Cummins Westport, HVIP, low-NOx engines
Photo ©Westport Innovations, used by permission