First-ever heavy truck fuel economy standards on the way
Average truck price likely to climb more than $6,000
Work trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles will, for the first time, have to trim fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions under new fuel efficiency standards. The White House says the standards – which apply to vehicle model years 2014 to 2018 – will save businesses billions of dollars in fuel costs, help reduce oil consumption and cut air pollution.
The new targets announced Aug. 9 by President Obama affect three categories of vehicles. Big rigs or semis will have to cut fuel consumption and emissions by up to 20 percent. Diesel-powered heavy-duty pickups and vans will have to cut consumption by 15 percent, or by 10 percent if the vehicles run on gasoline. The standards also will mandate a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions for work trucks such as concrete mixers, garbage trucks, fire trucks and buses.
Within each of those categories, more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle, providing a flexible structure intended to allow serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type. The administration released no mpg equivalent for the new standards, saying that doing so would be confusing given the different categories of vehicles, the different types of vehicles in each category and the varying payloads that each one carries.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation projects savings of $50 billion in fuel costs and 530 million barrels of oil over the lives of the vehicles covered by the new standards, along with improved air quality and public health. The higher costs of the more fuel-efficient trucks – likely to boost the price of a truck by an average of more than $6,000 – will be returned through reduced fuel costs of about $73,000 over the lifetime of the vehicles, the agencies say.
“Thanks to the Obama administration, for the first time in our history, we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work and the buses our children ride to school,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector and promote energy independence for America.”
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and EPA first announced their intentions last fall and developed the standards in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.
“This administration is committed to protecting the air we breathe and cutting carbon pollution – and programs like these ensure that we can serve those priorities while also reducing our dependence on imported oil and saving money for drivers,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. “More efficient trucks on our highways and less pollution from the buses in our neighborhoods will allow us to breathe cleaner air and use less oil, providing a wide range of benefits to our health, our environment and our economy.”
Obama previously had announced an agreement with 13 automakers to pursue the next phase in fuel economy of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025; that followed a 2009 deal committing cars and trucks to averaging 35.5 mpg by model year 2016. “While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” Obama said. “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.”
The American Trucking Associations praised the administration for their work. “Our members have been pushing for the setting of fuel efficiency standards for some time,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “It sets us on the path to a future where we depend less on foreign oil, spend less on fuel and contribute less to climate change.”
The Diesel Technology Forum said the work done in recent years by truck and engine manufacturers to meet increasingly tighter emissions standards now will pay off. “Further improvements to the diesel engine will be made and combined with enhancements to other vehicle components to tackle this new chapter of regulations,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the nonprofit organization. “Diesel also provides a unique technology platform suitable for expanded use of hybrid powertrains and lower-carbon renewable fuels – both strategies for reducing GHG emissions in the future.”
Also of Interest »