• Oct 24th 2010 at 12:59PM
  • 6
The EPA appears to be close to releasing its proposal for medium and heavy-duty truck fuel economy standards. As you may remember, the Obama Administration called for the first-ever standards for large work vehicles earlier this year. According to The New York Times, a spokesperson with the EPA has said that the initial proposal will be out soon. Analysts had expected the numbers to show up this week, but that's looking less and less likely by the hour.

Surprisingly enough, heavy truck manufacturers don't seem to be up in arms over the thought of new fuel economy standards. The New York Times says that the EPA has a history of working closely with big truck makers to reduce emissions, and that this is the next logical step. The EPA and truckmakers say agree that today's diesel rigs crank out 60 times less particulate matter than similar equipment did in 1988. That's thanks in no small part to the EPA's clean trucks program, which is geared toward promoting clean-diesel technology.

The new fuel economy standards are expected to show up in a climate bill that already regulates fuel consumption for passenger cars, light-duty trucks and stationary devices like generators.

[Source: The New York Times | Image: Ethan Miller/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      They need to scrap OTR vehicle design to make trucks more aerodynamic. It's more than just engine efficiency.
      • 8 Months Ago
      They should just mandate that all new and future engines that run on petroleum diesel be flex fueled, also able to use B100, 100% biodiesel, in any mixture with petro-diesel, or pure.

      But even biodiesel is a stopgap. The federal government needs to try to push through a transition away from petro-diesel and biodiesel to another diesel fuel: di methyl ether (DME). Good ways to accomplish this are to require that all new federal civilian diesel class vehicles use it, and that all state and local governments transition to it as well on condition of getting federal funds. Thus, school buses, mass transit buses, commuter trains and Amtrak (on non-electrified lines), fire trucks, etc. would have to move to it. Frankly, speeding up this process with a wartime level of urgency would have been a good use of the stimulus money - to scrap and replace all petroleum diesel burning school buses during the summer with DME buses, etc. Extend the requirement to all government contractors and construction jobs. Ensure that key transportation hub points and truck stops have DME pumps. Etc.

      DME produces no smoke, soot, or particulate matter at all. Although it has half the mileage of petro-diesel, larger fuel tanks can compensate for this.

      DME has drawbacks - the tanks need to be lightly pressurized (5 atmospheres) and as far as I know it can't be used interchangeably with petro-diesel in a flex-fuel engine - but it's worth it. It's much cleaner than even bio-diesel, and fits better into an overall post-petroleum strategy because it is made from methanol (which itself can be a gasoline replacement) and can serve as a feedstock to make plastic (thus removing another area where petroleum is dominant).
      • 8 Months Ago
      I would think in an industry that lives and dies by it's cents/mile operating costs, a small increase in fuel tax would have a much larger effect on vehicle MPG than it would for the private vehicle sector.

      And while particulate emissions may be 60 times better than they used to be, I still think this kind of command measure would be more effectively applied to criteria pollutants than to CO2. Is there any reason trucks shouldn't be subject to the same standard cars are?
        • 8 Months Ago
        " the same standard cars are"

        ... possibly pro-rated by ton-mile.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Pft... they don't need much engineering for aerodynamic. Just make it look like a bullet train and call it a day.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Keep it coming, Obama administration.

      This after 8 years of the EPA being essentially the thumb twiddling division. Happy to see things getting done. I hope republicans don't block it.
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