Feds propose first commercial truck fuel efficiency rules
Oct 26, 2010 11:30 AM
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the first US national standards that target greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks. Unveiled October 25, the new standards begin to take effect in 2014 and are expected to boost the price of a new truck by several thousand dollars.
The EPA and DOT have proposed new standards for three categories of heavy trucks: combination tractors, vocational vehicles, and heavy-duty pickups and vans. For combination tractors, the feds are proposing vehicle and engine standards beginning in model year 2014 and should achieve up to a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by model year 2018. On the vocational side (which would impact many tank truck fleets), the feds want up to a 10% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
“These new standards resulted from a historic effort by EPA and DOT over the past 20 months,” EPA Administrator Lisa P Jackson said during a press conference. “We’ve said all along that such regulations offer a transition to lower pollution and less energy use by the transportation sector. This is a performance standard that will enable truck and engine manufacturers to meet most, if not all, of the requirements with existing technology. At the same time, it will stimulate investements in new green technologies.”
The new heavy-duty truck emission and GHG standards are getting a cautious reception from industry. “Truck dealers support improving fuel economy for medium- and heavy-duty trucks,” said Kyle Treadway, American Truck Dealers chairman and owner of Kenworth Sales Company in Salt Lake City UT. “However, the fuel economy proposal for model years 2014-2018 is expected to add thousands of dollars to the cost per truck. We are concerned that this could price some buyers out of the market.
“Compliance flexibility will be essential to the national fuel-efficiency program’s success. These first-ever truck rules will govern how new medium- and heavy-duty trucks are built for sale. If technologically feasible and economically practical, they should result in vehicles that commercial fleets, owner-operators, and small businesses will want to buy, at prices they can afford.”
Federal officials estimate that that these new standards will reduce GHG by about 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced between the years 2014-2018. Overall, the new standards for commercial trucks could provide $41 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of the vehicles. Using an example of a typical semi truck operator, the government estimates that new technology upgrades could be paid for within one year from the savings in fuel and that over the length of that truck’s lifespan, that vehicle could save as much as $74,000 for the operator.
Some of the technologies being promoted for the first stage of the program include widespread use of aerodynamic improvements, lower tire rolling resistance, and engine and transmission upgrades. EPA and DOT (through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register. The proposal and information about how to submit comments is at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regulations.htm and http://www.nhtsa.gov/fuel-economy.
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