California may ease the phase-out of non-zero-emission forklifts: summary
The California Air Resources Board CARB has revised its proposed regulations aimed at achieving zero emissions from forklifts by 2035. According to the updated proposal, fleet operators will be prohibited from purchasing new large spark ignition (LSI) forklifts powered by internal combustion engines (excluding diesel-powered forklifts) as of 2026. However, a model-year-based phaseout of forklifts from 2025 model year (MY) and older will begin in 2028 (rather than 2026), with gradual replacement of these forklifts with zero-emission models over the next few years.
In line with California’s efforts to accelerate the transition to zero-emission forklifts, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has put forward a fresh set of prerequisites for fleet operators as part of a more extensive regulatory framework aimed at achieving zero-emission forklifts by 2035. This proposition demonstrates CARB’s all-inclusive approach to reducing emissions from the industrial sector, which has significant environmental and health effects. CARB conducted workshops on January 24 and March 22, 2023, to deliberate on the Zero Emission Forklift Measure.
As per this measure, fleets would undergo a model-year-based phase-out to impact forklifts manufactured from the model year (MY) 2025 and earlier. During the workshops, CARB talked about delaying the phase-outs for Class IV and Class V forklifts, which will commence in 2028 and 2030 instead of the initially proposed 2026. Therefore, these forklifts will have a lifespan of 10 years and 13 years, respectively, before being replaced with zero-emission models.
One of the primary alterations in the proposed regulations is the absence of a restriction on fleet operators from acquiring used forklifts from the model year 2025 and older, as long as they have not undergone phase-outs. This condition allows fleet operators some flexibility, as they may not be able to replace all their forklifts right away. Nevertheless, the procurement of new LSI forklifts by fleet operators will not be permitted after January 1, 2026.
In addition, the proposed regulations bring in the notion of model year grouping, which prolongs the phase-out for specific model years. For instance, a Class IV forklift from MY2019 can now be retained until 2031, providing it with a 12-year lifespan rather than the typical 10 years. Correspondingly, an MY2018 Class V forklift can now be kept until 2033, which is a 15-year lifespan instead of the customary 13 years.
Looking ahead to zero-emission forklift phaseout
A final all-stakeholder workshop will review the recommended changes before CARB staff prepares the final proposed regulation for presentation to its board members in the fall of 2023.
- New LSI forklift purchases by fleet operators would be prohibited starting in 2026.
- CARB recommends a model-year-based phaseout plan for forklifts from MY2025 and earlier, which will begin in 2028.
- Fleet operators can procure used forklifts produced in the model year 2025 and earlier, provided that they have not undergone phase-outs.
- Before presenting the final proposed regulation to the board members in fall 2023, the proposed regulations will undergo a conclusive all-stakeholder workshop after preparation by CARB staff.