A deep dive into SB551

This week we are focusing on more legislation! Last Thursday, Fluid Truck attended a press conference organized by LACI in support of SB551, which is a proposed bill in California aimed at creating statewide EV leadership in California to mitigate climate change caused by harmful pollutants. I spoke with Austin Koller, Fluid Truck’s EV Supply Chain Manager, and Monisha Merchant, who handles Government Affairs, on what this bill means for Fluid Truck and for anyone concerned with climate change caused by ICE vehicles. Let’s get into it!

What is SB551?

Austin Koller (AK): SB551, if passed, would create the ‘California Zero-Emissions Vehicle Authority’. This ZEV Authority team would provide private strategic direction for agencies and communities involved in ZEV initiatives through the state, and create funding and financing resources to support the transition to zero-emissions adoption. This would all take place in effort to ensure California leads the way to meet President Biden’s 2030 goal of 50% of all cars sold to be electric vehicles.

Monisha Merchant (MM): California has been a leader on innovative ways to provide incentives to reduce emissions from cars, buses, trucks, and other vehicles. Since the state government has had over 15 years of experience with different programs across multiple agencies, the SB551 legislation recognizes these efforts and creates a single office–California Electric Vehicle Authority–to help with the collaboration amongst the programs and be accountable to lawmakers for California’s investment in zero-emission vehicles. Here’s a great fact sheet that explains it further!

Besides factors like technology and supply chain issues, what do you think needs to happen for a substantial transition to get more EVs on the road?

AK: We need an abundance of educational resources and materials distributed across the board. The more people know about things like the low maintenance cost of owning an EV, the longer life span, the higher residual value, the transportation cost savings of switching from gas to electric, and all the environmental factors – this is what can make the average person really consider the transition.

MM: The federal infrastructure bill addresses one additional limitation: nationwide charging infrastructure. Today, we know that we have access to many gas stations in the delivery areas and at truck stops on long trips. But, trying to find an electric vehicle charging station is much harder. The infrastructure bill is one step to bring together states, utilities, EV charging companies, and other private sector partners together similar to how the interstate highway system was developed under President Eisenhower.

What kind of doors does SB551 open for EVs, individuals, and companies like Fluid Truck?

AK: A bill like SB551 has the ability to do so much good in the face of our climate crisis. Though it also has the ability to jumpstart our economy through creating good paying jobs, partnership opportunities for companies leading the zero-emissions industry, and for those in the Car/Truck sharing community, such as Fluid Truck, to continue to pull more gas and diesel powered vehicles off the road and provide on demand electric trucks for those who seek to do their part in improving our environment.

MM: With the California Electric Vehicle Authority, the buck stops with them. For families who live near major transportation centers and are concerned with poor air quality, they can contact the Authority. EV manufacturers can reach out to showcase technology advancements. Lawmakers can hold the Authority accountable for taxpayers’ investments. For Fluid Truck, we can help with pilots for the Authority and enable small businesses and truck companies to have greater access to the limited supply of electric trucks.

What part does Fluid Truck play in the adoption of bills like this across the country?

MM: We provide experience on both the opportunities and challenges with increasing electric vehicle adoption.

AK: Fluid Truck has been one of the largest purchasers of cargo vans in the country, however, we’ve repositioned our focus to meet our own & our partners sustainability goals and now currently operate the largest medium duty commercial EV rental fleet in the country.

Is there anything that individuals can do to help their local and statewide governments adopt legislation like this?

MM: We encourage you to reach out to your U.S. Representatives and share with them how your business needs access to electric trucks!