In his State Of The Union speech last week, President Obama made mention of higher fuel economy standards for big trucks. We all know (or should, at least), that picking up the low-mpg stragglers in our vehicle fleet is where we can make big efficiency gains, but what would greener trucks mean for the average American - besides some cleaner air, hopefully?

We can easily imagine how lower refueling costs can reduce shipping costs, but the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has done the math. The CFA found that an aggressive CAFE-style regulations for semi trucks – with aggressive here meaning cutting fuel use by "nearly 50 percent" - could end up saving $29.5 Billion, which is the equivalent of $250 per US household. The reason, according to Mark Cooper, the Director of Research for the CFA and the author of Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks (PDF), is that Americans currently pay an average of $1,100 per household towards medium and heavy duty truck fuel costs (based on 2010 data) and that any lowering in this cost will be passed through to consumers "because the transportation sector is very competitive."

Now, the President did not say anything about slicing big rig fuel use in half – the White House fact sheet simply says, "The President will propose new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty trucks that run on alternative fuels like natural gas and the infrastructure needed to deploy them, and the Administration will set new fuel efficiency standards for heavy duty vehicles." - so don't go spending that $250 quite yet.
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CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA RESPONDS TO PRESIDENT'S CALL FOR MORE FUEL EFFICIENT BIG TRUCKS

Cutting Fuel Consumption of Heavy-Duty Trucks Will Save

American Households $29.5 Billion

Washington DC-In his recent State of the Union speech, President Obama called for improved fuel efficiency in the millions of semi-trucks, large vans, buses, and other large trucks – known as "medium and heavy-duty trucks" – that ply America's highways. A new report from the Consumer Federation of America finds that new efficiency improvements for big trucks – driven by smart policy – would save the average American household $250 dollars per year in the cost of consumer goods and services.

"We know that the fuel costs associated with shipping goods cross country heavily impact the price of everything from a carton of milk to a pair of shoes. Strong standards that cut fuel use by nearly 50 percent could put $29.5 billion dollars back into the pockets of Americans," said Dr. Mark Cooper, CFA's Director of Research and author of Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks.

Released today, Paying the Freight examines the costs of energy used by medium and heavy-duty trucks, the potential for energy savings among these vehicles, and the positive impact that their increased fuel efficiency will have on America's households. "There is no question that reducing 'big truck' fuel consumption will save the industry money, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil, improve the environment, and put hundreds of dollars back into consumers pocketbooks each year," said Jack Gillis, CFA's Director of Public Affairs and author of The Car Book.

The new report builds on CFA's previous work that examined how consumers would be impacted by higher fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles. "As we found with the recently adopted 54.5 MPG standard for light-duty cars and trucks, consumers will benefit when heavy-duty trucks go farther on a gallon of fuel," said Cooper.

Over the past decade, public opinion polling by CFA has revealed widespread support for energy efficiency standards for consumer durables, including vehicles. Because gasoline costs are such a large household expense – in 2010, households spent about $2,130 on gasoline – it is not surprising that consumers themselves consistently support standards that are proven to save them money.

"While direct household expenditures on gasoline are significant, they are only part of what households spend on energy. Consumers also pay the cost of commercial transportation fuel in the price of the goods and services they buy. As such, reducing the energy consumption of big truck fleets will have a positive impact on household expenditures," said Cooper.

When fuel prices rise, so does the cost of consumer goods due to transportation costs. Conversely, because of competition, a reduction in transportation costs will result in lower cost of goods for consumers. "The 54.5 MPG standard for passenger vehicles is a win, win, win, win for car companies, auto workers, consumers, and environmentalists. We have no doubt that aggressive but achievable medium and heavy-duty truck standards will provide the same across-the-board benefits," said Gillis.

Both consumers and industry recognize that reducing vehicle fuel consumption is in everybody's best interest. "One of the reasons we believe a strong fuel efficiency standard for heavy-duty trucks will be implemented is because key components of the trucking industry are also seeking ways to reduce the enormous impact of fuel expenditures on their costs," said Gillis.

In 2011, the federal government adopted a fuel economy standard for the trucking sector for the first time. The new trucking sector rules are due to take effect this year and will be applied through 2019. Adopting more ambitious standards post-2019 would yield the savings outlined in Paying the Freight.

The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 260 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.

Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks (ADD HYPERLINK)

Executive Summary

Consumer Federation of America Calls for a Strong Big Truck Efficiency Standard

Today's report, entitled Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks examines the cost of energy used by these vehicles, the potential for energy savings, and the positive impact that increasing their fuel efficiency will have on America's households.

The CFA report Paying the Freight concludes that:

American households pay over $1100 per year due to medium and heavy-duty truck fuel costs. Without new standards, this amount is expected to grow considerably during the next two decades.
Implementing fuel saving technologies could lower medium and heavy-duty truck fuel consumption by almost 50 percent and yield a net savings to consumers (after the cost of the technologies are recovered) of over $250 per household per year.
With standards, as fuel prices rise and transportation services increase, the potential household savings could rise to over $400 per year by 2035.
Because the transportation sector is very competitive, the related cost savings in fuel will be passed through to consumers.

Reducing commercial transportation fuel costs will also benefit the overall economy because:

Reducing fuel expenses will reduce the cost of transportation and thereby increase the demand for transportation services, which will have a significant positive multiplier effect on the economy.
Even as lower fuel costs increase the demand for transportation services, the net effect will be overall cost savings because the increase in efficiency is much larger than the increase in the demand for services.
As pass-through transportation fuel costs for consumers decline, disposable income will increase, further stimulating economic growth and activity.

Reducing commercial transportation fuel costs will provide significant social benefits:

The environmental impact of medium and heavy-duty trucks is significant and growing. Reducing their use of fuel will provide a major contribution to reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
The potential for cutting commercial transportation fuel usage in half will significantly reduce our dependence on foreign oil thereby improving America's security.

The report concludes that like light-duty cars and trucks, performance standards are the most effective approach to achieving transportation fuel cost savings:

They overcome the market barriers in the trucking sector that have prevented the implementation of many economic opportunities to save energy.
In 2011, the trucking sector had a fuel economy standard applied for the first time. Even before 2014, when the standard is set to take effect, simply setting the standard stimulated significant progress and will produce significant savings. More aggressive standards will yield even greater savings.

The CFA report Paying the Freight explains how we derived the cost of fuel consumption by medium and heavy-duty trucks that is borne by households; identifies the magnitude and cost of the reduction in fuel consumption that can be achieved in the medium and heavy-duty truck sector; examines why the medium and heavy-duty truck sector has failed to incorporate technologies that would lower fuel consumption on their own; and explains why performance standards are an effective policy to address this significant economic issue.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 278 Comments
      William
      • 1 Year Ago
      "Green" is such an ambiguous and often bogus term. Why not use the words, "more efficient." In this regard look at E-Power trucks and Bullettrucks. Also, in relation to E-power trucks look at Axion Power batteries.
      Dart
      • 1 Year Ago
      In the world of heavy trucks, if there is a cost effective way to improve fuel economy, the trucking companies would be all over it. I use to work in the field in the early 2000s. We had customers who would do whatever they could to squeeze 1/2 mpg from a truck. The reality is that much of it has to do with the driver(s). Team drivers usually got better mileage because the truck was always moving, rarely idling (This was before APUs were common place). Our fleet (Freightliner Century Class, Series 60, 10 spd Rockwell, high top sleeper) would get 7-9 mpg. After emission equipment was mandated, mileage dropped back down to 5-6.5 mpg. Engine tech just needs to catch back up with emission requirements, as it always does. Much has been done in the way of aero improvements, and I more and more of them on the road these days (skirts, wheel covers, etc). There are also many more CNG powered city route trucks in this area (North Texas), but long haul CNG trucks just aren't feasible (yet). Hybrid trucks run into that huge problem of weight, which is strictly controlled by DOT. More Battery weight = less cargo = less profit.
      Corey Blue
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yeah because when government gets involved everything always gets cheaper. (he says sarcastically) Like healthcare, oh wait sorry wrong.
        rubley00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Corey Blue
        Yes, I'd rather have companies free to pollute as much as they want, who cares about babies born with no arms, progress!
        Vlad
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Corey Blue
        Funny thing: you have an Israeli flag on your avatar. Their government is way more involved in healthcare than ours - as in tax-funded care for everyone - and they have lower costs and no worse outcomes.
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Corey Blue
        Automakers kicked and screamed when catalytic converters were mandated. They said it would add $500 to the cost of every car and sales would drop. Look what happened...
      knightrider_6
      • 1 Year Ago
      You also have to look at the big picture - increased incidence of lung cancer caused by diesel exhaust. That costs America hundreds of billions every year.
        john96xlt
        • 1 Year Ago
        @knightrider_6
        Great solution, just stop all trucks! Then watch the economy grind to a halt instantly. If you hate trucks so much, do not buy anything transported on a truck. That includes your car, more than likely. And, your house/apartment/trailer because the materials to build it were shipped by truck. That also includes all the groceries you didn't buy at the local farmers market. Oh, damn, that's right, farmers use those evil trucks, too, a great many of them diesels. Well, you can just eat...um...I dunno? Do you? Gee, turns out trucks aren't so bad, after all.
      Jobu
      • 1 Year Ago
      The jerk will lie about anything... I'm still waiting for the $2500 per family we are supposed to save with Obamacare.
        Jarda
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        The most serious damage is the one he has dealt voters' trust. After so much of "Change" he pretty much spits in voters' collective face. (Exclude people who actually change their opinion on world based on what he says.)
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        I have yet to meet a real person whose premiums went up in 2014. The only stories I have heard are from anonymous comments on blogs and some liars on Fox News.
          EVnerdGene
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          "I have yet to meet a real person whose premiums went up in 2014" knightrider, you must be running around with a bunch of low-lifes living off the gov'ment dole. Proud of yourself ?
          Jobu
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          Hey Tightrider- mine alone went up 76%. And don't try peddling you BS about my previous plan not being a good one.
          Cayman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          Really??? I would have guessed just about everyone's premiums go up just about every year. My premiums have increased all but 2 years of employment; which obviously has nothing to do with ObamaCare. Although this year was one of the largest increases. Saying you haven't met anyone who's premiums when up this year seems a little more than a bit dishonest, but that doesn't mean it's this program's fault.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          I know of a few, one young family who's essentially going broke because they're being forced to pick up the equivalent of a car payment.
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        The whole country seems outraged at the lies to sell us the ACA and incompetence in deploying it. The really baffling thing, though, is that it seems like the whole country has been even angrier at every efforts that republicans have made to repeal it.
        rubley00
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jobu
        "The jerk will lie about anything... I'm still waiting for the $2500 per family we are supposed to save with Obamacare." I'm saving $204/month, no subsidy
          rubley00
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rubley00
          Premiums have been going up 10-15% pear for a decade. For along time companies absorbed. They've mostly stopped, and its being passed to employees. When I started my last job, 6 years ago, I paid nothing for insurance, by the time I left it was $150/month (just me). The affordable care act didn't create that. I haven't seen anything go up, my friends with a daughter with diabetes moved to a new plan and pay the same amount. And the vast majority of people covered by their employer will see no change under ACA.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @rubley00
          The way it works is that younger, healthier people pay more to offset some older or unhealthier people to pay less. On average, the two are not balanced, not an even trade. Totaling up both sides, the average premium has gone up significantly under the ACA. Your experience is a very expensive exception to the rule.
      William
      • 1 Year Ago
      E-Power trucks and/or Bullettrucks.
      kajohns1964
      • 1 Year Ago
      Assuming fuel prices don't rise wiping out any savings.
      Jason Krumvieda
      • 1 Year Ago
      Didn't the big 3 state a while back that raising fuel economy on cars will increase the price of each car by $1500 or so? So after you spend extra you will then see the savings, but Obama only talks about the savings. I can see why people have a tough time believing anything that he says.
      Jarda
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wonder if Autoblog ever asks themselves a question whether **** they promote even makes sense. I doubt that.
      yonomo200
      • 1 Year Ago
      As long as the wacktard trolls are here, you can forget about trying to sell this notion.
      jebibudala
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since this administration took office, I've had to raise prices on my products several times. By a much higher percentage than in previous years. Tax hikes, new taxes, import duties, carbon tax (on parts that are fully RoHS compliant made in Germany), fuel surcharges, postage rate increase... You name it, cost of everything is going up exponentially. I put equal blame on congress. Democrat, Republican - they are all the same in my book. They both want larger government, bigger control over every industry. I run a truly green company with minimal overhead. There's no place else to cut. If this trend continues, I'll be giving the employees the pick slip and shut down operations, because everything has become cost prohibitive. Mandating a technology before it exists will cause these manufacturers to either bite the bullet and dump TONS of cash into R&D so they can meet those standards, or they're going to pass those upfront costs straight to the consumers. So $250 savings sounds nice, but R&D & deploying new technology will cost upwards of the multi-billion dollars.
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        jebibudala Except in this case, there is no need for "multi billion" R&D investments. There are already prototypes running, with aerodynamic features, that double efficiency.
        creamwobbly
        • 1 Year Ago
        @jebibudala
        How about additional legislation for a 56 mph speed limiter on trucks like they have in Europe? That would go an awful long way to saving fuel and reducing the amount you pay in fuel surcharges. It might also bolster rail transport with road being used for the "last mile" (or 10), keeping these impractical juggernauts off the road.
          yonomo200
          • 1 Year Ago
          @creamwobbly
          But it would also increase delivery times, which would no doubt have a "cost" attached to it which somebody will monetize in some board room somewhere. They already push these drivers' schedules to dangerous lengths. No free lunch, ever.
      • 1 Year Ago
      And where is the money going to come from to pay for the new trucks? Maybe from the $250 per household savings? Yup.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 1 Year Ago
        And those new trucks are built mostly in America by American workers. Money right back into your economy.
          dovegraybird
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          Tell that to independent owner/operators, someone will visit you in the hospital.
          kajohns1964
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icemilkcoffee
          American and Mexican workers.
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