Dozens of business leaders, including leading vehicle manufacturers, have urged Gov. Steve Sisolak to redouble his efforts to electrify transportation in Nevada. They asked the governor to sign onto the Multi-State Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, pledging that at least 30 percent of all new trucks and buses sold in the state will be zero-emission vehicles by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050.
These businesses – including Volvo Trucks North America, Nestlé USA, Mack Trucks, Rivian, Arrival, Parsons and EVgo, along with dozens of other large and small companies – know it is time to accelerate the transition to electric medium- and heavy-duty (MHD) vehicles to protect our economy, energy security, public health and climate. They know that we must act with urgency to modernize and transform the school buses, delivery trucks, public buses and refuse trucks that travel through our neighborhoods and along our highways.
We applaud the State of Nevada for adopting an ambitious climate plan that identifies electrification of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles as an opportunity for substantial progress in air quality improvements, greenhouse gas emissions reductions and reduced oil dependence in the Silver State. The governor now has a critical opportunity to build on this important work by committing Nevada to the Multi-State MHD Zero Emission Vehicle MOU. By joining the 15 other states in the MOU, Nevada would further signal its commitment to American leadership in the future of transportation, with major implications for job opportunities, energy security and emissions reductions.
MHD electrification supports economic development. The federal government is strengthening its commitment to electric vehicle adoption, and multiple vehicle manufacturers have committed to full electrification, with auto manufacturers like Ford and GM investing tens of billions to scale up domestic EV production over the coming decade. These companies are reimagining their vehicle portfolios, releasing new electric models, and investing in electric vehicle manufacturing and the required supply chains in the United States, including in Nevada.
The Tesla Gigafactory, located outside Sparks, became the highest-volume battery factory in the world in 2018. At peak production, the Gigafactory will eventually employ as many as 10,000 workers. Elsewhere across the country, Volvo Trucks North America is producing its VNR Electric Class 8 truck and the company aims for its product range to be “fossil-free” by 2040. Ford has committed to invest $22 billion in EVs through 2025 and aspires to be carbon neutral by 2050. GM has committed $27 billion to electrification, with a goal of ending production of vehicles with internal combustion engines by 2035; the company is investing $3 billion to produce all-electric trucks, SUVs, and electric self-driving vehicles at its Hamtramck, Mich., plant. When the plant is fully operational, GM projects it will create 2,200 manufacturing jobs.
The MHD sector is a critical part of this transformation and is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in the global automobile market. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake as the United States competes with China and other nations to be a leader in the EV supply chain. We have a finite window of opportunity to leverage state and federal policy action to preserve American leadership and the jobs that come with it, jobs that can be located right here in Nevada.
MHD electrification is also important for energy security. The United States is the world’s largest consumer of petroleum, accounting for one-fifth of the world’s daily supply. We spend $81 billion per year just to protect oil supplies in the Persian Gulf. Our dependence on this volatile commodity, which currently fuels 91 percent of the transportation sector, jeopardizes U.S. economic sovereignty and skews foreign policy priorities. Electricity, on the other hand, is ubiquitous, domestically produced right here in Nevada, and far more stably priced than petroleum-based fuels. Nevada spends about $4 billion annually on oil imports – dollars that could be invested back into the local economy with a switch to electric transportation.
Lastly, MHD electrification will cut emissions and improve public health. MHD vehicles represent just 11 percent of vehicles on the road, but they produce 29 percent of all vehicle greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to high levels of air pollutants. Freight vehicles are a major source of fine particulate matter, which is linked to serious health problems, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, heart attacks and lung cancer. Disadvantaged communities located along transportation corridors bear a disproportionate share of these health impacts.
According to the American Lung Association, widespread adoption of electric vehicles by 2050 would result in an estimated savings of $72 billion per year in health costs nationally. In Nevada alone, it would prevent $746 million in health-impact costs, 65 premature deaths, 767 asthma attacks and 3,724 lost work days.
The electrification of transportation is a question of when – not if. Nevada now has a chance to help our nation pick up the pace so that we can protect the health of our citizens, improve our energy security, create American jobs and remain competitive on the global stage.
Ben Prochazka is the executive director of the Electrification Coalition, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization committed to policies and actions that facilitate widespread deployment and adoption of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) to combat the economic, public health, and national security threats posed by America’s dependence on oil.