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Truck Makers Green-Light New Fuel Rule

Thursday, August 11, 2011

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Truck and vehicle manufacturers are giving a surprising thumbs-up to the nation’s first fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles.

Despite the manufacturing industry’s generally rocky relationship with the Obama administration—and the Environmental Protection Agency in particular—truck and vehicle makers are largely applauding the new standards, which the administration says will save U.S. businesses that operate and own these commercial vehicles about $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

530M Barrels of Oil Saved

Under the nearly 1,000-page rule, issued Tuesday (Aug. 9) by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by about 270 million metric tons.



The new program sets fuel efficiency and GHG emission standards for three categories of medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in model year 2014.

The program, which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies, was developed in close coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the state of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders. Obama also met with manufacturers as the rules were released.

The heavy-truck standards follow historic fuel-efficiency standards announced last month for cars and light-duty trucks.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” President Obama said Tuesday. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

“They were from the people who build, buy and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks.”

3 Truck Categories

The rule sets a range of targets specific to diverse vehicle types and purposes. The standards are organized for three categories of medium- and heavy-duty trucks beginning in model year 2014:

• Certain combination tractors—commonly known as big rigs or semi trucks—will be required to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions by up to 20 percent by model year 2018, saving up to four gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled, according to EPA.

• For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards apply to gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to about 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and GHG emissions by model year 2018. EPA says a typical gasoline- or diesel-powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

• Vocational vehicles—including delivery trucks, transit buses and garbage trucks – must reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by about 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Each category includes more specific targets based on the vehicle’s design and purpose. The result, the administration says, is “serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.”

EPA says that a semi truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.

Trucking: ‘Welcome News’

American Trucking Associations president and CEO Bill Graves called the new rule “welcome news to us in the trucking industry… . Our members have been pushing for the setting of fuel efficiency standards for some time, and today marks the culmination of those efforts.”

Graves, a former two-term Kansas governor, said the administration could do more to increase fuel efficiency by allowing what ATA calls “more productive trucks” (through changes in federal size and weight regulations) and by implementing a national speed limit of 65 mph.

 Bill Graves
The American Trucking Associations’ Bill Graves called the rule “welcome news” for his industry.

Both the Engine Manufacturers Association and the Truck Manufacturers Association, which include the nation’s largest heavy-duty vehicle makers, also applauded the new standards, said Jed Mandel, who heads both groups.

“The final rule provides a novel program that expands the use of existing fuel efficiency improvement technologies, incentivizes the introduction of advanced technologies, accelerates improvements in medium and heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency and reduces greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mandel.

Manufacturers: ‘Pleased’

Ford Motor Co., commercial and military truck manufacturer Navistar Inc., PACCAR Inc. and divisions of Isuzu and Volvo are members of both EMA and TMA. EMA also includes American Honda, Caterpillar Inc., Chrysler Group, engine maker Cummins Inc., Daimler Trucks, Deere & Co., GM and other major manufacturers of heavy-duty equipment.

Denny Slagle, president and CEO North American Trucks (Volvo and Mack), said he was “pleased overall with the process, and the degree to which EPA and NHTSA involved and listened to the industry.”

Cummins said it would meet the new targets early.

And Navistar chairman Daniel C. Ustian said the standards “set an example for what could be a worldwide GHG and fuel efficiency regulation for heavy-duty trucks and engines.”

 Daniel Ustian
Navistar chairman and CEO Daniel C. Ustian said the rule could become a model for worldwide standards.

Sean Waters, Daimler Trucks’ director of Compliance and Regulatory Affairs, said his company had “worked closely and productively” with both agencies, supported the final rule, and looked forward to “continued collaboration” during the implementation process.


Tagged categories: EPA; Equipment; Greenhouse gas; Mass transit; Regulations

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