• Oct 25th 2010 at 4:58PM
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As expected, the EPA has released its first-ever proposal for greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles. The proposal, and that's all it is at this point, would create three new categories for heavy trucks: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. The rules will cover on-road vehicles with a gross vehicle weight at or above 8,500 pounds, unless these vehicles are already covered under CAFE. All of these proposals would start with the 2014 model year and make some big improvements relatively soon. The EPA is working with the DOT and NHTSA on the joint standards, which will have two types of metrics.
  • For pick-ups and vans, the metric will be gram per mile (and gallon per 100-miles) based on payload.
  • For vocational vehicles and combination tractors, the standards are gram per ton-mile (and gallon per 1,000 ton-mile).
Each of the three categories has different targets.
  • Combination tractors (commonly known as semi trucks) would get new engine and vehicle standards and, according to the EPA, "achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption by 2018 model year," compared to a 2010 baseline.
  • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans would fall under emissions rules that are similar to the rules that govern light-duty trucks and passenger cars. There would be separate gasoline and diesel standards that would, "achieve up to a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles by 2018 model year (12 and 17 percent respectively if accounting for air conditioning leakage)."
  • For vocational vehicles, the proposed standards would reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions up to 10 percent by 2018 model year.
(This post continues after the jump.)

Add all these up, the EPA says, and the national program would, "reduce GHG emissions by about 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program's first five years." For truck operators, getting these sort of efficiency increases could, "save as much as $74,000 over the truck's useful life." That $74,000 could pay for a lot of high-technology powertrain components, but some of the efficiency gains could come from inexpensive changes like more "widespread use of aerodynamic improvements and tire rolling resistance, as well as engine and transmission upgrades." Comments can be made on the proposal here.

The Union of Concerned Scientists was one of the first groups to release a statement in favor of the rules. Don Anair, a senior analyst in UCS' Clean Vehicles Program, said, "These trucks represent only 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but they consume 20 percent of the fuel." You might notice, though, that the rules don't cover the trailers in any way, even though you can save fuel by using a better trailer. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy issued a statement saying that the proposal is a good one, but could be better by targeting a reasonable 35 percent decrease by 2017 (instead of 20 by 2018) for combination tractors.

This may be true, but every little bit helps. As we detail in this Greenlings article, bringing up the lowest mpg vehicles on the road is a much better way to save fuel as a country than improving the cars with the highest mpg.

[Source: EPA, The Union of Concerned Scientists | Image: -= Bruce Berrien =- – C.C. License 2.0]

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DOT, EPA Propose the Nation's First Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks and Buses
A win for the environment, economy and energy efficiency

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses. This comprehensive national program is projected to reduce GHG emissions by about 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles produced within the program's first five years.

"These new standards are another step in our work to develop a new generation of clean, fuel-efficient American vehicles that will improve our environment and strengthen our economy," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said. "In addition to cutting greenhouse gas pollution, greater fuel economy will shrink fuel costs for small businesses that depend on pickups and heavy duty vehicles, shipping companies and cities and towns with fleets of these vehicles. Those savings can be invested in new jobs at home, rather than heading overseas and increasing our dependence on foreign oil."

"Through new fuel-efficiency standards for trucks and buses, we will not only reduce transportation's environmental impact, we'll reduce the cost of transporting freight," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This is a win-win-win for the environment, businesses and the American consumer."

EPA and DOT's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are proposing new standards for three categories of heavy trucks: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles. The categories were established to address specific challenges for manufacturers in each area. For combination tractors, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards that begin in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 20 percent reduction in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and fuel consumption by 2018 model year.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the agencies are proposing separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 10 percent reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15 percent reduction for diesel vehicles by 2018 model year (12 and 17 percent respectively if accounting for air conditioning leakage). Lastly, for vocational vehicles, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year which would achieve up to a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 2018 model year.

Overall, NHTSA and EPA estimate that the heavy-duty national program would provide $41 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles. With the potential for significant fuel efficiency gains, ranging from seven to 20 percent, drivers and operators could expect to net significant savings over the long-term. For example, it is estimated an operator of a semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and save as much as $74,000 over the truck's useful life. Vehicles with lower annual miles would typically experience longer payback periods, up to four or five years, but would still reap cost-savings.

The innovative technologies fostered by this program would also yield economic benefits, enhance energy security, and improve air quality. New technologies include widespread use of aerodynamic improvements and tire rolling resistance, as well as engine and transmission upgrades.

EPA and NHTSA 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 .

As part of the process of developing this proposed rulemaking, NHTSA has prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for its proposed fuel efficiency standards. The draft EIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency's proposal with those of a number of regulatory alternatives. Comments may be submitted on the Draft EIS through January 3, 2011, and information on the submission of comments for this document may be found at the NHTSA web address listed above.


WASHINGTON (October 25, 2010) – Proposed fuel efficiency and global warming pollution standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks released today by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would establish the first-ever standards for these vehicles. Because trucks are among the largest fuel consumers in the country, these standards would help reduce U.S. oil dependence, cut global warming pollution, and provide significant economic benefits to truck operators and the public at large, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

"These trucks represent only 4 percent of vehicles on the road, but they consume 20 percent of the fuel," said Don Anair, a senior analyst in UCS' Clean Vehicles Program. "These first-ever standards would provide truckers with clean, fuel-saving technology that would save them money at the pump. Meanwhile, all Americans would benefit from cleaner air and less dependence on oil."

Long-haul tractor trailers – or big-rigs – consume the most fuel of all vehicle categories covered under the proposed standards and also represent the greatest opportunity for fuel savings and pollution reductions. The proposed standards would reduce fuel consumption from long-haul tractor trailers 20 percent by 2017. Unfortunately, the proposal only requires improvements to tractors – which includes the engine, transmission and cab – but does not require upgrades to trailers, which account for one third of potential big-rig fuel savings. According to a UCS analysis, efficiency improvements for both tractors and trailers could reduce fuel consumption 35 percent by 2017.

Last week, UCS released a virtual big-right truck design, called the "Convoy" that demonstrates how clean technology could reduce truck oil consumption. The design, related background information on the new standards, and an economic analysis of oil savings and job creation are available online.

President Obama called for the new truck standards in May and also ordered DOT and EPA to move forward on separate passenger vehicle standards. A joint September DOT and EPA analysis concluded that a standard of 60 miles per gallon by 2025 would save consumers the most money at the pump.

Brendan Bell, Washington Representative for UCS's Clean Vehicles Program, said the two standards together would transform the U.S. transportation sector. "The Obama administration is delivering on its promise to cut America's oil dependence," he said. "We're finally putting technology and innovation to work creating jobs, saving money at the pump, and cutting carbon pollution. Whether you make trucks, drive trucks, or just drive by them on the highway, these new standards will deliver benefits that make a difference for everyone."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

Proposed Truck Standards a Milestone, but Some Savings Opportunities Left Untapped

Washington, D.C. (October 25, 2010): Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation proposed the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses. The affected vehicles, ranging from large pickup trucks to big rigs, today consume about 2.5 million barrels of oil per day, one-fifth of total transportation oil use in the U.S.

ACEEE applauded the agencies tackling this essential but complex task. "Setting fuel efficiency standards for trucks is a crucial step toward saving oil and reducing emissions from the transportation sector. And it will help keep down the price of goods that move by truck," said Therese Langer, Director of ACEEE's Transportation Program.

Nonetheless, Langer noted: "The proposal misses some important opportunities to save fuel." A National Academy of Sciences study published earlier this year shows how long-haul tractor-trailers (the biggest diesel users) could reduce their fuel consumption by at least 35 percent by 2017, using measures that would pay for themselves in two years. Yet the proposed rule calls for no more than 20 percent savings. Trailers are not covered by the rule, even though improving trailers' aerodynamics and tires alone could reduce fuel use by 10 percent.

In addition, said Langer, "the program needs to do more to draw advanced technologies into the market." Especially for "vocational" trucks such as refuse trucks, delivery vans, utility trucks, and school buses, the standards should ensure that companies using newer technologies, from advanced transmissions to hybrid drive trains, can readily get credit for doing so. Moreover, the standards should set the efficiency bar high enough that the entire industry will start using these technologies sooner rather than later. The proposed standards would require little of the "vocational" trucks, however, and as a result would not do much to accelerate the uptake of advanced technologies. Similarly, while engine improvements anticipated later in this decade could achieve fuel savings in excess of ten percent, the proposal calls for only six percent.

"U.S. companies are leaders in advanced truck and engine technologies," said Langer. "A strengthened final rule can help them consolidate that advantage and lead in the global market."

About ACEEE: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. 2010 marks ACEEE's 30th anniversary as an organization. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, contact ACEEE, 529 14th Street N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045 or visit aceee.org.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      uh... why hasn't this already happened decades ago???
      • 4 Years Ago
      While I know this could contribute to higher pricing... I think it's a good thing. Trucks can be downright gross.

      This is one of those times the cost feels worth it to me.
        • 4 Years Ago
        right... Vastly improved aerodynamics, "super single" tires, common rail injection, NOx and Particle traps... yeah. Barely changed. Pollution is already regulated (quite well for new trucks) and fuel economy for fleet service is self driving. If an advance saves 2% on fuel, it can pay thousands to a large operator every month.
      • 4 Years Ago
      About time!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I really hope this doesn't increase the price like crazy. Half of my fleet is going to need to be replaced soon.
      • 4 Years Ago
      How silly considering only morons think CO2 is a pollutant.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I still dont understand why more trains arent used. Seems it would be more efficient, less rolling resistance on steal wheels and one large engine to pull all the cars. Also imagine how fun the drive would be with no large trucks at every turn.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm not against trucks, but I am against bigger and bigger government. That said, there is one area the government could get involved that would help us all...the railroads. I'm aware of the arguments truckers and retailers use against the rail system, but if the government wants to throw money around at something the way they have recently, improving the rail system to carry a LOT more stuff would be a good way to go. Anything that gets the long-haul trucks off the road, or reduces the numbers significantly would be a very good thing. If you've driven on TR-80 (Truck route 80, not I-80) you know 90% of ALL traffic is long-haul trucks.

      Unfortunately the rail system - which has been destroyed in just 50 years - is so poorly run I don't see any improvement w/out government intervention (sad as that might be).

      Another place the EPA make everyone happier - even if it continues to insist in control vastly greater than its charter - is make ALL buses route their exhaust up high - including school buses. If - as someone said - long-haul trucks are the bane, I have no words to describe school buses and older POS tour buses that blow dirty exhaust right in your face. It's why I stay back - much to the dismay of those behind me - at least 50 or so feet from these rolling particulate producing abominations.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I am very grateful that they are taking some action in these areas. So many consumers are duped into thinking buying a prius will save the environment when these behemeths are the worst offenders and some of the easiest to address since (at least some of) their infrastructures can be more controlled vs. the # of gas stations for regular cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The EPA seems to be doing its best to join the IRS, DHS, and BATF in the group of agencies that we thought were a good idea when they were started but now are beginning to realize we gave them a bit too much authority in the first place
      • 4 Years Ago
      I thought they already started this emissions stuff for heavy duty trucks? Which is why class 8 trucks need to have Particulate filters and DEF now. What exactly are these standards doing? How will they effect fleet-based small business owners?
        • 4 Years Ago
        All the new emissions equipment the government has mandated has LOWERED fuel economy in these trucks and has raised maintenance costs significantly. The trucks in our fleet continually have problems with their EGR system, the VGT turbos don't last as long as the old ones, and the DPF systems take power and mileage from the engine.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I believe the numbers are a misnomer. Sure they create more of the pollution, because they rack up much more mileage in the course of a year. Back in 2000-2002 timeframe I worked for a Penske Truck Leasing. We had class 8 fleet customers than ran their trucks 20,000 miles a month, versus the average car that is driven 15K a year.

      I love the way people think trucks are dirty, nasty, unevolved vehicles. Back then a Freightliner Century with a 10spd and Series 60 Detroit got 6 to 9 MPG depending on traffic, driver habits, etc. This was according to our downloads from the trucks. Keep in mind this is a vehicle that weighs 75-80,000 lbs loaded, and it gets almost as good a fuel economy as a Jeep GC SRT-8 (Rated single digit fuel economy in the city). Ten years ago Ccass 8s already had multiple on-board computers, lane guidence, rollover warning, collision detection and ABS.

      Fleets are VERY aware of fuel economy, but it is balanced with load capacity. What makes more sense, get more fuel efficient trucks that carry less, or give up some mileage to carry maximum payload, removing the need to buy as many vehicles?

      As for the rail systems, people who are not in the business probably don't realize that they are vey efficient. The problem is that rail lines are only useful for regional transport, while trucks are still necessary to move goods from rail yards to end users.

      Trains have come a long way also. There is a company called RailPower Inc, and they rebuild old GE Locomotives into Diesel-electric hybrids that reduce fuel consumption and emmisions immensly.

      Note: Don't confuse Diesel-Electric Hybrid with a typical Diesel Electric Locomotive - two different technologies.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem with rail its slow. Any urgent loads go by truck. Since we are a culture that wanted something the day before yesterday, things have to go by truck. Less critical stuff goes by train, I used to do this for JB Hunt.
      • 4 Years Ago
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