John Dutra is a one-man band, running his custom-upfit 1991 Isuzu FSR for construction work in the South Bay of San Francisco. Dutra couldn’t have known when he bought his truck so many years ago that today he’d be staring down a government mandate to (in all practicality) buy a cleaner truck.

Chris Brown is the top editor at Business Fleet Magazine, a sister publication to HDT under the Fleet Group banner at Bobit Business Media. Business Fleet is aimed at small private fleets who typically buy trucks in the service of their business rather than to haul freight.

In early January, Chris wrote a blog post about the impending January 31 deadline to file for an extension to California Air Resources Board regulations regarding trucks in the GVWR range of 14,000 lbs. to 26,000 lbs. (There are separate rules for Class 7 and 8 vehicles.)

"Should I mortgage my house for a bright shiny new truck?”

As Chris explained in the post, California fleets must comply with a schedule that requires replacement of engines 20 years and older. Therefore, as of Jan. 1, 2015, trucks in this GVWR range with 1995 engines or older must be replaced with trucks using 2010 engines or newer. A year from now, trucks with 1996 engines or older must be replaced, and so on. Starting January 1, 2020 — if you can think that far ahead — all remaining trucks would need to be replaced with 2010 model-year engines or equivalent emissions by 2023.

Dutra read this blog post and, after getting contradictory information from CARB, contacted Chris for help.

"I reached out to CARB, connecting the two on a conference call. This is where it got interesting," Chris writes.

On the call, Dutra found out he would indeed need to take expensive action. If he registered on the CARB website by Jan. 31, he would have until Dec. 31, 2015 to either install a diesel particulate filter in his present truck or buy a truck with a compliant engine. Installing a DPF is expensive — especially for a medium-duty truck — to the extent that in many cases it makes sense to just buy a newer truck.

“We’ve been in a recession, and then they say, spend $20,000? Where am I going to get the money? Should I mortgage my house for a bright shiny new truck?” said Dutra, with what might be described as wounded sarcasm, Chris reports.

Read more about how that conversation with CARB went on Chris' blog, Auto Focus.

About the author
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Editor and Associate Publisher

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology.

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