ATA Exec Andrew Boyle Presses EV Infrastructure in Senate

Excise Tax Repeal Is Also Hot Topic
Andrew Boyle
Andrew Boyle speaks to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee April 18. (

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WASHINGTON — A senior trucking industry executive during a recent Senate committee hearing voiced concerns about challenges that lie ahead in ensuring sufficient charging infrastructure exists for adoption of electric commercial vehicles nationwide.

“If the power and infrastructure is not available, it’s not even a consideration for trucking,” said Andrew Boyle, first vice chairman of American Trucking Associations and co-president of Massachusetts-based Boyle Transportation, during an April 18 hearing before the chamber’s Environmental and Public Works panel. He stressed, however, that trucking is ready to make a shift once that infrastructure is there.

“Get the power generation. Establish the infrastructure for chargers, and by all means we would embrace this notion. But to do so without that in place sets trucking up for failure, which in turn sets up consumers for failure and higher costs,” he said.

Boyle emphasized that trucking would welcome the expansion of power options that electrification offers — “We would be delighted to have more choices,” he said — but cautioned against an approach proposed in California and backed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advance short deadlines for phaseout of diesel-powered trucks. Last month, EPA issued waivers to the California Air Resources Board to allow the state to pursue a zero-emission trucking landscape for the next decade. The waivers permit the state to officially move forward with plans to transition diesel trucks to electric vehicles and expand the length of truck warranties.

VIDEO: Senate hearing on cleaner vehicles

Under the plan, truck manufacturers who certify Class 2b-8 chassis or complete vehicles with internal combustion engines must sell zero-emission trucks as an increasing percentage of their annual California sales starting in 2024.

According to CARB, by 2035, zero-emission truck/chassis sales must account for 55% of Class 2b–3 truck sales, 75% of Class 4–8 straight truck sales and 40% of truck tractor sales.

Boyle reminded the panel of the trucking industry’s concern about these efforts, which he stressed would allow California to set state-specific standards for the commercial vehicle sector.

“California wants to make it effective next January — that’s the only choice. No diesel trucks,” he said. “No [original equipment manufacturer] is going to be compliant with the California CARB standard for diesel electric trucks starting in January.”

At the hearing, Republican senators expressed concern about directives targeting the commercial transportation sector. Committee ranking member Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) took aim at the regulatory permitting requirements that she said might stall efforts to secure supplies of raw materials for the transition to electric vehicles.

“There are requirements for — and there is a great desire — for us to have domestic materials, whether they’re recycled or not,” she said. “If you’re going to have this whole huge glut of new vehicles or trucks or whatever, or both — you have to have the critical mineral, and you have to have the mine to do it. So, we have to have support for permitting reform and permitting of these mines.”

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) noted that acquiring critical minerals domestically would assist companies disassociate with countries that may pose challenges, such as China. As Sullivan put it, “This administration talks a big game, and all they do is undertake policies that make us more reliant on the Chinese Communist Party and its economy.”

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For the most part, Democrats on the panel touted the Biden administration’s objectives related to electric vehicles. Emerging technologies related to cleaner or alternative fuel vehicles are perceived as tools for emissions reduction as well as decarbonization.

At the hearing, Boyle also called on senators to embrace efforts designed to repeal a World War I-era excise tax on new trucks. Repealing the long-standing 12% tax on such vehicles would pave the way for the freight sector to upgrade fleets of commercial vehicles, he explained.

As it stands, this federal excise tax is viewed as an impediment, Boyle told senators: “Eliminating the [federal excise tax] will reduce the cost of new technologies by tens of thousands of dollars and is a technology-neutral solution that allows companies to invest in not only battery-electric, but alternative fuel vehicles as well, depending on the availability of infrastructure to support the specific technologies.”

He went on to highlight recent legislation introduced in the chamber designed to tackle the issue. Last month, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) unveiled the Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2023. The bill, which has yet to be considered in committee, would repeal the federal excise tax on heavy trucks and trailers.

“It’s time to repeal this outdated and onerous tax on our Hoosier truckers,” Young said soon after the bill’s introduction. “Our bipartisan bill will open the floodgates to investment in safer and cleaner trucks and trailers that will benefit our economy and the environment.”

House lawmakers introduced similar legislation, which also awaits consideration in a committee of jurisdiction. “Repealing the 12% federal excise tax on heavy trucks and trailers will help all businesses reduce costs, address supply chain challenges and lower costs for essential goods for families, especially in rural areas,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), the bill’s co-sponsor and a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.