• May 26th 2010 at 12:47PM
  • 25

When we first glanced at the "Delivering Jobs" report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and Calstart, we were perplexed by claims that 120,000 jobs could be created by simply producing more efficient semi-trucks. We're all for more efficient trucks, but is job creation really that easy? We know that highly-skilled individuals would be hired to develop, engineer and produce these trucks, but we couldn't fathom that 120,000 people would be needed for these tasks. As we delved deeper, we discovered that the report makes a lot of assumptions and found that the claimed job creation level is certainly questionable. Two findings from the report are listed here:
  • Owners of advanced heavy-duty tractor-trailers could save $120,000 or more per truck over eight years, after paying back their initial $62,000-per-truck investment. Owners of large fleets of package delivery trucks or long-haul tractor-trailers could save hundreds of millions of dollars over 8 to 12 years. (CALSTART).
  • By investing $4.7 billion by 2020 and $13.5 billion by 2030 in more efficient trucks, the nation would reap savings of $10 billion by 2020 and $24 billion by 2030-over and above the initial costs of the technology. (UCS Climate 2030)
According to Calstart and UCS, the savings associated with these highly-efficient trucks could be directly returned to the industry, thus creating those 120,000 new jobs. The money saved by corporations could be used for hiring additional truck drivers, buying more trucks, transporting more cargo, opening new retail locations, expansion and so on. All of these actions would lead to exponential job growth, but what's going to prevent a company from just stashing the money away and padding its bottom line? We're not suggesting that the drive for more efficient semi-trucks should be ditched, but we don't want you to believe that switching over to more efficient vehicles would directly lead to employment for 120,000 people. It's just not that easy. Read the entire report here and let us know what you think.

[Source: Calstart via Green Car Congress]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Geez about time! I've never understood why seemingly no attempt at aerodynamics is applied to semi trucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't be so quick to say that. By adding that ungainly bit at the rear, the flow over the rear stays laminar and increases pressure on the backside.

        Aerodynamics are passed on frontal area, coeff. of drag, etc, yes. but part of it is the pressure differential between the front and the rear. With a conventional truck, the pressure at the front is slightly higher than atmospheric, while the pressure at the back is slightly less, which creates a drag force. By increasing pressure at the rear simply by getting air moving instead of stagnant (which is the purpose behind the above contraption) the pressure at the rear increases, the coefficient of drag decreases, and the overall drag force decreases.

        It's ugly and impractical, yes, but it works.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You mean besides being highly impractical (see image)? And more than likely, pointless? Aerodynamics is more about front surface area and the amount of air you have to push aside than it is about the vortex that exists behind the object you're trying to move through the air.

        And the fact of the matter is, that trailer is big.

        If you want to improve the aerodynamic efficiency of that trailer, make it longer and hitch more trailers to it. That means that for the same amount of air you have to push aside, there's more cargo being carried.

        To take this to its logical extreme, you should ship things by train instead of by truck. Trains are coincidentally, tremendously more efficient than trucks for this very reason.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I fail to see how a little bit of extra length is impractical. And besides I wasn't talking about just the back, I'm talking about the entire truck, most of the trucks I see on the road have massive slab shaped fronts with a nearly vertical windscreen. I also would see no problem in introducing multi trailer trucks, I see them on occasion with dump trucks, why not with container trucks, works in Australia.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The $10 billion saved by corporations could be used for hiring additional truck drivers, buying more trucks, transporting more cargo, opening new retail locations, expansion and so on.

      Hmmm. Is that like how Nike created sooo many jobs here in the US by moving its factories to China? After all, they saved millions and millions by doing so. I also like how Nike sneakers are so much cheaper.

      There is a tiny, tiny chance that what the study claims will actually happen. But let's get our trucks off of foreign oil for many, many other even better reasons anyway. If the rich a-holes actually create some jobs after lining their pockets with the money saved that's like icing on the cake!
        • 5 Years Ago
        roflmao....Paul, stop..you're killing me here.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Paul, that was the best comment of the week! Bravo! "crap from China" -- roffl
        • 5 Years Ago
        Our nations highways will be full of trucks hauling loads of crap from china so we can buy it at our local walmart. Some of us will drive a truck and others will work at walmart. It will be a capitalist utopia.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Creating jobs isn't all it's cracked up to be.

      How many jobs will be created by the BP oil spill?

      Changes need to be evaluated in terms of sustainability. Any change that just contributes to the pyramid scheme we call an economy is a two-edged sword.
      • 5 Years Ago
      II think it is not so easy in high efficient Semi -Trucks leads to 120,000 new jogs by 2030.
      If it is possible in future it benefits that people those are job less and find job in this filed.

      • 5 Years Ago
      From the report:
      "fleet owners who require drivers to adhere to a 60-mph speed limit and buy
      vehicles with advanced aerodynamics, tires with low rolling resistance, a
      hybrid drivetrain, and a bottoming cycle20—all of which are technologically
      feasible by 2020—can increase their fuel economy by 65 percent."

      Why not start with the first item: 60 mph national speed limit for medium and heavy commercial vehicles... and limit them to the right lane. On the Autobahn, there is a similar limit for trucks and it seems to work fine there. Safety is another benefit

      "A hard limit is imposed on some vehicles:

      60 km/h Buses carrying standing passengers (except in Switzerland)
      Motorcycles pulling trailers (in Switzerland: 80 km/h)

      80 km/h Vehicles with a gross weight rating (GWR) exceeding 3.5 t (except passenger cars)
      Passenger cars and trucks with trailers; Buses or Coaches (in Switzerland: 120 km/h)

      100 km/h Buses or Coaches certified for 100 km/h not pulling trailers

      Passenger cars with trailers licensed for the higher speed, cars must have anti-lock brakes, sufficient gross weight, trailer has to be equipped with stabilized coupling and J-rated tires, trailer and towing car need visibly mounted 100 km/h badge"

      Maybe require new trucks to have limiters in addition to prevent people from going over the limit (Americans have more difficulty following rules than Germans).
        • 5 Years Ago
        "60 mph national speed limit for medium and heavy commercial vehicles... and limit them to the right lane."

        While we're at it, how about applying exactly these limits to light trucks as well? For the same reasons. The safety benefit and fuel savings would be far greater.
        • 5 Years Ago
        fnc- you bring up a good point. maybe we should put a daily limit to total miles on the road. Lets say 500 miles per day (60 mph X 8 hrs plus 20 miles to find a place to park). That way, they no longer have a financial incentive to speed. Drivers could then seek to save fuel per mile driven.

        And I would apply the speed limit all vehicles classified as commercial vehicles (see f250 and other vehicles that have a GVWR that exempts them from CAFE and many automotive safety regulations).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Ran into this as well. I have a feeling that few people in the United States would be buying HD full-sized pickups for daily commuters if they were electronically limited to 54 mph.

        "In Germany, most trucks are limited to 80 kilometers per hour (kph, the equivalent of 48 miles per hour or mph) on the Autobahn network. The 80 kph limit also applies to buses and cars pulling trailers. In contrast, most of the network has a recommended, as opposed to mandatory, speed limit of 130 kph (81 mph) for cars and motorcycles. Approximately 40% of the network, notably in urban areas, has mandatory speed limits for cars and motorcycles of 80 to 120 kph (50 to 75 mph). Substantially different expressway speed limits for trucks and other heavy vehicles on one hand and cars on the other are common in Europe, generally 80 to 90 kph for the former and 120 to 130 kph for the latter.

        In Germany and other European Union counties, trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of 3. 5 tonnes (7,700 pounds) or more must have a governor that limits their speed to 90 kph (54 miles per hour). This requirement also applies to buses with more than 8 passenger seats whose maximum weight exceeds 10 tonnes (22,000 pounds)."

        • 5 Years Ago
        Truck drivers can only drive a certain number of hours in a day (or at least, that's what the rules say). If most still get paid by the mile they probably wouldn't care to be told they can't travel nearly as far in a given day which thus reduces their pay. And if you're moving for eight to ten hours a day, a ten mile per hour reduction can mean a lot of miles not covered.

        I agree that we need to just restructure the tax/subsidy environment to make rail shipping more economically viable. It probably won't take nearly as long to switch local delivery truck fleets (rail station to distribution center and store) with a more lenient range requirement over to alternative fuel systems as it would the over the road fleet.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fuel efficienct trucks will do more than just create jobs in the trucking industry. Here's a little more insight on how we estimated the potential job benefits of more efficient trucks in our report “Delivering Jobs”.

      Based on currently available technologies and those expected to be commercialized over the next 10 years, we estimated that overall truck fuel economy could be improved by at least 60 percent by 2030. We estimated both the annual investments in technology needed to achieve this level of improvement and the resulting fuel cost savings of operating more efficient trucks, assuming a conservative diesel fuel price of about $3.50 per gallon.

      A macro economic analysis was performed, factoring in both investments and cost savings. In 2030, investments total $13.5 billion while net costs savings total $24 billion. Investments in new technologies lead directly to truck manufacturing industry related employment, as suggested in this article.

      However, the fuel cost savings, which are above and beyond the technology investment costs, also lead to employment increases. Here’s how. Trucking companies may retain some of the fuel savings and decide to invest in more equipment, additional employees, or keep it as profit. But it is unlikely that trucking companies would be able to retain all of these savings. Other trucking companies will have more efficient trucks too and will lower rates in a competitive environment. As a result, some of these savings will be passed on to consumers who will now have more money to spend on other goods and services, creating jobs throughout the economy. Our analysis, which estimates a net increase in jobs of 124,000 in 2030, assumes that 50 percent of the savings go to truck owners while 50 percent are passed to consumers.

      To see more details on the analysis, visit our website at
        • 5 Years Ago
        That's assuming that the rising price of fuel does not outpace the increases in efficiency which is an unfounded assumption.
      • 5 Years Ago
      In terms of fuel efficiency, railroads are three times more fuel-efficient than trucks. If just 10 percent of the freight moved by highway were diverted to rail, the nation could save as much as 200 million gallons of fuel each year.

      CSX claims their trains get 423mpg per ton.
        • 5 Years Ago
        By the way, rail freight may be more than 3 times as efficient as truck freight.

        Grist says rail is 10 times as efficient and if there weren't subsidies for the trucking industry the economics would turn in favor of rail.
        "But in terms of shipping, most economic advantages trucks have over trains are due to perverse tax and subsidy structures whereby freight trains actually have to help pay for trucks."
        (source: http://www.grist.org/article/freight-trains-19th-century-technology-due-for-a-21st-century-revival )

        Read the article in that link. The guy makes some very good points.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've always wondered how they come up with that. I feel quite certain that you can't put a single gallon of fuel in a train, and pull a ton of freight 423 miles. A truck certainly can't move a ton 141 miles (423/3) on one gallon of fuel.

        My theory is that they start with a loaded train, carrying thousands of tons, and figure that if you added just one extra ton, the incremental fuel usage is one gallon over 423 miles. This is equivalent to having a car that gets 50 MPG, adding an extra 10 lbs to it, and figuring out how much extra fuel it uses.

        Still, I do agree that trains are much more efficient than trucks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, railroads make more sense, but this is more about dollars, LOTS of dollars and headlines.

        Special interests bribing crony politicians again...

        A half-truth is the blackest of lies because it can be partially defended.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They look at it like this: If an 18 wheeler carrying 40,000lbs (20 tons) of cargo gets 6 miles per gallon, then it moved that whole 20 tons for 6 miles....or "it could have moved" 1 ton for 120 miles. It really is not a direct measure of miles per gallon, but rather how much freight was moved and how far for each gallon of gas used.

        It's kind of "funny math", but in a way it's a realistic for hauling freight if you want to compare efficiencies of two different systems.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Absolutely right, Paul. CSX has it in their commercials as well.

        CSX also has what it claims is the ultimate hybrid:

        It's more like this: a truck carries "X" many tons of stuff and gets "Y" miles to the gallon. A train carries "X times about 280" and gets "Y times whatever" miles to the gallon. It's a no-brainer. Reduce truck traffic by 20 percent while at the same time making trucks 20 percent more fuel efficient. Bingo. You've just cut out all the oil we import from the middle east.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "According to Calstart and UCS, the savings associated with these highly-efficient trucks could be directly returned to the industry, thus creating those 120,000 new jobs."

      Could be created? I suppose I could win the lottery tomorrow as well.

      Sure, there are jobs to be created on green projects such as this but 120K is not realistic.

        • 5 Years Ago
        "Creating Jobs" is the new buzz phrase.

        Like monkeys in a lab experiment. Monkey A sees that everytime Monkey B pushes a button "instant treat".... Monkey A will try to push that button till he passes out.

        Claim that you can "create jobs", then reach hand out, palm facing up.
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