Skip to main content
Speeches and Presentations

CARB & CALSTART's Zero Emission Truck Showcase + Ride and Drive

Dr. Steven Cliff, NHTSA Administrator | Opening Remarks

Wednesday, June 08, 2022 |

As Prepared for Delivery

Jessie, thanks for that introduction. Good morning! I’m very pleased to be here with you on this beautiful – and hopefully not too hot – day.

Thank you to CARB and CALSTART for organizing this showcase and for all of your efforts to promote zero-emission vehicles. You are champions for a greener, cleaner future – thank you.

This issue is incredibly important because heavy trucks play a vital role in our nation’s economy. They deliver building materials and equipment to construction sites, carry away our trash and recycling, and keep our store shelves stocked. And, of course, they deliver goods across the country. As our nation addresses the supply chain challenges, Americans now have a greater understanding of how vital heavy trucks are to our daily lives. You know this issue well here in the Inland Empire where a large fraction of the nation’s imported cargo transits your region every day. We all want to see these trucks carrying the goods we need in the safest and cleanest way possible.

I’m here on behalf of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where I serve as the Administrator. Under the leadership of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, our work at NHTSA focuses on making our vehicles and roads safer for everyone, while also integrating policies that make transportation more fuel efficient, cleaner and more equitable. Addressing climate change is one of the President’s top priorities, and it’s one of the Department’s top priorities as well.

We cannot address climate change without addressing how much vehicles contribute to the problem. And this is also an issue of equity, another one of the President’s top priorities. We know that harmful effects from the transportation system disproportionately impact low-income areas and communities of color.   

All across the country, highways divide urban neighborhoods, subjecting residents to pollution and noise, all while magnifying economic disparities. Something with which this region is all too familiar.

To transform our environmental future, we must move to zero emissions. Policies at the national and state level will encourage this transition. Along the way, it is also essential to ensure that vehicles with internal combustion engines sold today and in the future are as efficient as possible.

Last August, President Biden signed an executive order directing NHTSA to work with our colleagues at EPA on the next phase of GHG emissions and fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. NHTSA welcomes your feedback – and feedback from all stakeholders – when the agency proposes these new regulations next year. 

We will also work with the EPA on policies that will reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil. Because until we are using 100% clean energy, we will still be subject to price hikes and market fluctuations – like we’re seeing right now across the nation, and especially here in California.
The governments, companies and organizations taking part in this event have seen the light. They know the future is in zero emissions. I commend you on supporting this goal. And this Administration is committed to aligning policies and making the investments to help accelerate that transition.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is just 8 months old, but it is already helping us move toward this greener future by making landmark, once-in-a-generation investments. It will also speed the adoption of electric vehicles by creating a network of charging stations, especially along highways and in rural areas. We need that network if we’re to have widespread adoption of EVs in the trucking industry.

Building that network is going to take strong partnerships at the federal, state and local levels, and notably, with the private sector as well. It's an ambitious goal. 

As trucks become more fuel efficient and cleaner, we also want them to be safer. NHTSA is currently working on a number of new rulemakings for advanced safety technologies and other safety improvements. I want to update you briefly on a few of those.

Automatic emergency braking is common in passenger vehicles and an emerging feature in medium- and heavy-duty trucks. It’s included in some new heavy vehicles now, along with forward collision warning and lane departure warning. For several years, NHTSA has researched forward collision avoidance and mitigation technology on heavy vehicles. 

We are studying real-world performance and driver acceptance, estimating potential benefits, and developing test procedures. Now, NHTSA is working on a rulemaking that will propose test procedures and seek comment on measuring the performance of these systems. We are working on publishing the notice later this year.

Finally, autonomous vehicles – or, as we call them, automated driving systems – are the talk of the transportation industry because of the potential they offer to transform the way we get around and how we move goods. While having fully automated fleets on our roads are a way off, limited development and testing are underway.

NHTSA is conducting research to develop tools to assess the safety of vehicles with automated driving systems. This includes the performance of the entire vehicle in various driving scenarios and the performance of individual sub-systems and components. As the technology develops, safety must be paramount.

This is a time of significant change – but one that has the potential to revolutionize the way we live, work and travel. 

Today, we’ll get to see firsthand some of the vehicles of the future. And I believe – I know – that the future of transportation is one that will be cleaner, more equitable, and safer than ever before.

Thanks so much and have a great time today.