Zero-Emission Vehicle Planning

Questions? Rincon Can Help


California has implemented specific laws and regulations* to drive the adoption of Zero-Emission Vehicles (ZEVs), promote sustainable transportation alternatives, and reduce emissions. These laws affect public agencies with large vehicle fleets, requiring the transition to ZEVs. Rincon’s team of experts, knowledgeable on the latest California legislation driving the adoption of ZEVs, will help water agencies effectively prepare for compliance with ZEV adoption regulations, ensure a smooth transition, and maximize the environmental and operational benefits of ZEV fleets.  

To address infrastructure challenges, financial considerations, vehicle availability, and staff readiness, contact Rincon to develop strategies to successfully implement ZEV requirements.

* Senate Bill 20 (SB20) requires state and local government entities in California, as well as public utility companies, to gradually transition their vehicle fleets to ZEVs. The law sets targets for the percentage of ZEVs in these fleets, with the goal of achieving 50% ZEVs by 2025 and 100% by 2030, subject to certain exceptions. Innovative Clean Transit (ICT) Regulation mandates that public transit agencies gradually increase the percentage of ZEVs in their fleets, with the goal of achieving 100% ZEVs by 2040.  

To prepare for compliance with the regulations regarding ZEV adoption in fleets, agencies should consider the following planning steps:

Fleet Assessment: Begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment of the existing fleet. Determine the size, composition, and usage patterns of the vehicles in the fleet. This assessment will help identify the types of vehicles that can be replaced with ZEVs and prioritize the transition. 

Identify Appropriate ZEVs: Evaluate the available ZEV options that are suitable for the agency’s operational requirements. Consider factors such as vehicle range, charging infrastructure availability, vehicle size, and payload capacity. This assessment will help determine the appropriate ZEV models to integrate into the fleet.

Charging Infrastructure Planning: Assess the charging infrastructure needs for the ZEV fleet. Identify the required number and type of charging stations, including Level 2 chargers and fast chargers, based on the fleet size and operational needs. Consider factors like access to electrical infrastructure, parking availability, and charging station compatibility with the chosen ZEV models. 

Financial Planning: Evaluate the financial implications of transitioning to ZEVs. Consider the upfront costs of purchasing or leasing ZEVs, potential savings in fuel and maintenance costs, available incentives and rebates, and the return on investment over the vehicle’s lifespan. Develop a budget plan to account for the procurement and operational costs of the ZEV fleet. 

Charging Infrastructure Deployment: Develop a strategic plan for deploying charging infrastructure. Determine the locations where charging stations will be installed, considering accessibility, operational convenience, and geographic distribution. Coordinate with utility companies, local authorities, and property owners to ensure necessary electrical upgrades and permits are in place. 

Fleet Transition Strategy: Develop a phased transition strategy for integrating ZEVs into the fleet. Consider factors such as vehicle availability, infrastructure readiness, and staff training requirements. Set incremental targets and timelines for transitioning specific portions of the fleet to ZEVs while ensuring operational continuity. 

Staff Training and Education: Provide training and education programs for fleet managers and drivers to familiarize them with ZEV technology, charging protocols, and efficient vehicle operation. This will help optimize the use of ZEVs, promote driver confidence, and ensure that the transition to ZEVs is successful. 

Monitoring and Reporting: Establish mechanisms to monitor and track the progress of the fleet transition, including the number of ZEVs deployed, charging infrastructure utilization, energy consumption, and emission reductions. Regularly report the fleet’s performance against the compliance requirements to regulatory authorities as required. 

The biggest hurdles that agencies may face when implementing the requirements for ZEV adoption include:

Charging Infrastructure: One of the major challenges is the availability and accessibility of charging infrastructure. ZEVs require reliable and conveniently located charging stations to meet the charging needs of the fleet. Establishing an adequate charging infrastructure network, including both workplace and public charging stations, can be a complex and costly endeavor. Agencies must identify suitable locations, secure permits, coordinate with utility companies for electrical upgrades, and manage the installation and maintenance of the charging infrastructure. 

Upfront Costs: ZEVs often have higher upfront costs compared to conventional vehicles. Agencies may face budget constraints in procuring or leasing a sufficient number of ZEVs to meet the required fleet targets. While incentives and rebates are available to help offset costs, agencies must carefully plan and budget for the investment required to transition their fleets to ZEVs. 

Vehicle Availability: The availability of ZEV models that meet the specific operational requirements of the agency’s fleet also pose a challenge. Limited vehicle availability, especially for specialized or heavy-duty vehicles, may make it difficult to find suitable ZEV alternatives. Agencies need to work closely with vehicle manufacturers and dealers to ensure a diverse range of ZEV options that align with their fleet needs. 

Range Anxiety and Performance Concerns: Range anxiety, the fear of running out of battery charge, can be a barrier to ZEV adoption. Ensuring that ZEVs have sufficient range to meet the operational needs of agencies is crucial. Additionally, agencies may have concerns about the performance and reliability of ZEVs, especially for applications that require heavy-duty capabilities or operate in extreme weather conditions. Properly addressing these concerns through vehicle selection, education, and performance monitoring can help alleviate hesitations. 

Staff Training and Support: Transitioning to ZEVs requires educating and training fleet managers and drivers on the unique characteristics of electric vehicles, including charging protocols, range management, and efficient operation. Agencies need to invest in training programs and provide ongoing support to ensure that staff members are comfortable and competent in operating and maintaining ZEVs. 

Resiliency: Identifying backup power and emergency operations protocols around particular electric vehicles will be critical, at least in the short term, for utilities that need to be able to respond during energy outages. While not every vehicle needs to have this level of resilience considered, key emergency response vehicles will need to be planned around.  

Overcoming these hurdles requires careful planning, collaboration with industry stakeholders, securing funding, and a long-term commitment to ZEV adoption. Rincon helps agencies develop comprehensive strategies that address infrastructure challenges, financial considerations, vehicle availability, and staff readiness to successfully implement the ZEV requirements and realize the benefits of zero-emission fleets. 

Have questions or want to learn more? Contact us!

Contact Erik Feldman


Contact Ryan Gardner

Director, Climate Action and Decarbonization