More emissions-delete fines | CARB's new small-fleet electric truck finance effort

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, April 24, 2024:

Heavy-duty pickup dealership owner sentenced for ‘deleting’ emissions

The owner of a New York dealership specializing in diesel pickups was fined $50,000 and sentenced to four years of probation after previously pleading guilty to Clean Air Act violations for “deleting” emissions systems.

Matthew R. Talamo, 38, of New Haven, New York, was sentenced this month for actions in his operation of Southern Diesel Truck Co. and Southern Diesel and Off-Road LLC in Oswego, New York.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, Southern Diesel specializes in buying and reselling diesel vehicles and performing aftermarket modifications to diesel vehicles, particularly pickup trucks.

In pleading guilty, Talamo admitted he conspired and agreed with others to violate the Clean Air Act at Southern Diesel by tampering with emission control monitoring devices and methods on diesel pickup trucks, including both software and hardware modifications. The illegal software modifications involved “tuning” or “deleting” the trucks by tampering with the onboard diagnostic systems and disabling emission controls, which allowed the trucks to emit substantially more pollutants into the atmosphere, the attorney’s office said.

[Related: Rhode Island fleet owner sentenced for illegal emissions 'tunes']

Talamo and his employees also made hardware modifications to diesel vehicles, including by removing tailpipes, mufflers, and other exhaust components and replacing them with so-called "straight pipes" that lacked diesel particulate filters and other systems designed to reduce harmful emissions.

Between January 2018 and November 2022, Southern Diesel tampered with the emission control monitoring devices and systems of approximately 244 diesel vehicles, often charging thousands of dollars per vehicle for the modifications.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brenda K. Sannes, who presided over the case, ordered Talamo to complete 150 hours of community service during his term of probation and ordered him to abide by terms of a compliance program agreed to as part of his plea agreement, including that Southern Diesel is subject to inspection at any time for potential Clean Air Act violations.

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[Related: Final sentences handed down in Michigan emissions 'delete' case]

Pilot program for ‘zero-emission’ truck financing poised for launch with lenders, small fleets 

The California Air Resources Board is poised to launch a pilot Zero-Emission Heavy-Duty Vehicle Air Quality Loan Program in conjunction with the California Pollution Control Financing Authority through their California Capital Access Program (CalCAP). 

The new pilot program will offer financing opportunities for medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles. As an “independent contributor” to CalCAP, CARB will contribute a percentage of an enrolled loan into a “loan loss reserve” account for each participating financial institution.

With these funds available, lenders are better equipped to lend to businesses that need a little extra assistance and typically offer more favorable terms than the business would qualify for otherwise, CARB said.

[Related: Known unknown: How the used market will develop for Class 8 and other electric trucks]

The pilot program will be offered statewide. Eligible small fleets can apply for a loan through a participating lender, who will then submit an enrollment application directly to CalCAP. The pilot will be open to fleets with 20 or fewer medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Purchased vehicles must be new or used zero-emission and on-road trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating over 8,500 pounds. CARB said a warranty purchase is eligible when combined with a vehicle purchase.

An initial funding allocation of $5 million was provided in the CARB Fiscal Year 2022-'23 Funding Plan to create the pilot ZE Heavy-Duty Vehicle Air Quality Loan Program. The pilot will help program staff learn about what small business fleets need to transition to zero-emission vehicles by analyzing project data and evaluating deployment success. Staff will also monitor pilot participation in disadvantaged and low-income communities and solicit input from lenders and borrowers to understand how the program has influenced purchasing behaviors.

[Related: Electric-truck purchase incentives present big challenges for small fleets, owner-operators]

Mack, Volvo using renewable diesel to move new trucks off assembly lines

Volvo Trucks HVO fuelingVolvo and Mack are fueling new trucks leaving their New River Valley and Lehigh Valley Operations plants, respectively, with hydrotreated vegetable oil, also known as renewable diesel.Volvo Trucks North America

Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks on Wednesday announced that the companies are using hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), or renewable diesel, in newly assembled trucks moving off the assembly line.

Mack said HVO is being used to move completed Class 8 trucks off its production line at Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO), in Macungie, Pennsylvania.

“The utilization of HVO will help Mack in its journey to promote the decarbonization of the transportation industry,” said Jonathan Randall, president of Mack Trucks North America. “Whether it’s through the use of HVO, or through the development of Mack battery-electric vehicles, such as the Mack LR Electric refuse and Mack MD Electric models, Mack is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and achieving our sustainability goals.”

Mack estimated that by utilizing HVO, LVO was able to reduce carbon emission by about 18%.

Volvo is using HVO at its New River Valley (NRV) plant in Dublin, Virginia.

“Today and for the foreseeable future, there will not be a one-size-fits-all approach to decarbonizing transportation,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “That is why, at Volvo Trucks, we are focused on the three-pillar strategy with battery electric, hydrogen fuel cell and renewable fuels in the internal combustion engine. With the all-new Volvo VNL and by utilizing HVO, we can make the most substantial and immediate impact today. There is a future for the [Internal Combustion Engine] and we’re happy to be doing all factory fills with renewable fuel, an important step towards walking the talk in our sustainability journey.” 

Volvo is fueling new trucks leaving the NRV plant with 20 to 25 gallons of HVO per tank, with full tanks provided for trucks destined directly for customers. This initiative is expected to replace 1,125,000 gallons of fossil-based diesel annually, achieving an estimated 75% to 85% reduction in CO2 emissions for Volvo Trucks' operations in North America.

HVO can be used interchangeably with petroleum diesel. Renewable diesel at any blend up to a maximum of 100% (RD100) that conforms to ASTM D975 or EN15940 will not adversely affect engine or aftertreatment performance or durability.

[Related: 'Massive' rate increase needed to finance $1 trillion electric trucking conversion]