The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has updated the proposed new regulations aimed at achieving zero emissions from forklifts by 2035. This article is a review of recent changes to California's ban on non-zero-emission forklifts, which we wrote about in 2022.
Under the updated proposed regulation, fleet operators would still not be allowed to purchase new large spark ignition (LSI) forklifts as of 2026. LSI forklifts include all those powered by an internal combustion engine (except diesel-powered forklifts). However, the fleets would be subject to a model-year-based phaseout of 2025 model year (MY) and older forklifts starting in 2028 (rather than 2026), with the gradual replacement of these forklifts with zero-emission models over the next few years.
As California pushes for a faster shift towards zero-emission forklifts, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed a new set of requirements for fleet operators under a broader set of regulations aimed at achieving zero-emission forklifts by 2035. With this proposal, CARB is taking a comprehensive approach to reducing emissions from the industrial sector, which has significant environmental and health impacts. CARB held workshops on January 24 and March 22, 2023, to discuss the Zero Emission Forklift Measure.
Under this measure, fleets would be subject to a model-year-based phase-out, affecting forklifts from model year (MY) 2025 and older. During the workshops, CARB discussed postponing the phase-outs for Class IV and Class V forklifts, which will begin in 2028 and 2030, respectively—not in 2026 as originally proposed. This means that these forklifts will have a 10-year and 13-year lifespan, respectively, before they need to be replaced with zero-emission models.
One of the significant changes in the proposed regulations is that there is no prohibition on fleet operators buying used forklifts from model year 2025 and older, as long as they have not been phased out yet. This provision provides some flexibility for fleet operators, who may not be able to replace all their forklifts immediately. However, fleet operators cannot purchase new LSI forklifts after January 1, 2026.
The proposed regulations also introduce a model year grouping concept, which further delays the phase-out for some model years. For example, an MY2019 Class IV forklift can be kept until 2031, which is a 12-year lifespan instead of the standard 10 years. Similarly, an MY2018 Class V forklift can be kept until 2033, which is a 15-year lifespan instead of the standard 13 years.
The proposed regulations will go through a final all-stakeholder workshop before CARB staff prepares the final proposed regulation for presentation to its board members in the fall of 2023.
• Starting in 2026, fleet operators would not be allowed to purchase new LSI forklifts.
• CARB proposes a model-year-based phaseout of MY2025 and older forklifts starting in 2028.
• Fleet operators can purchase used forklifts from model year 2025 and older, as long as they have not been phased out yet.
• The proposed regulations will go through a final all-stakeholder workshop before CARB staff prepares the final proposed regulation for presentation to its board members in the fall of 2023.
Maxim Khabur is marketing director with OneCharge, a manufacturer of lithium forklift batteries, chargers, and accessories for all types of lift trucks.