New Environmental Rules for Medium-Heavy Duty Trucks

Obama’s Continues ‘War on Pollution’ on the heavy-duty vehicle front

The EPA has just released it’s environmental rules for Phase II of the green house gas (GHG) efficiency program, which addresses medium-heavy duty vehicles, which has the potential to vastly improve the transportation industry’s image. Building on Phase I, this next part will spur innovation for fuel efficiency in commercial trucks. But will rebranding come at a cost too dear for some members of the transportation industry to bear?

In summary, the plan calls for a 24% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by trailers and tractors for the model years 2021-2027. This gives manufactures six years to start working on the technologies and designs that would make this a reality. The proposal offers multiple pathways for these standards to be achievers, based on the needs of various classes, sizes, and clients.

The American Truck Dealer’s Association raised their concerns with the standards in a statement released soon after the new standards were proposed:

“Adding… just under $12,000 to the cost of a new truck through mandates based on potentially untested technologies is a great risk to a still fragile economy.”

However, the $12,000 price tag would be off-set by the fuel savings and ROI on each vehicle. The report itself estimates that a new long-haul truck could return its additional cost within two years. This is does not include savings from preventative maintenance and fleet efficiency, which could add extra dollars to the ROI.

These emission standards will be executed through fuel efficiency initiatives to lower fuel costs by as much as 24%. Aerodynamic design, lower rolling resistance tires, idle reduction technologies, automatic tire inflation systems and weight reductions will all come into play by manufacturers to hone fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

“Once upon a time, to be pro-environment you had to be anti-big-vehicles. This rule will change that,” said U.S Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Since medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for up to 20% of all GHG emissions, Phase II will be a big step forward to meet the goal of removing 1 billion metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. In a world increasingly reliant on online shopping, the cheaper shipping rates and reduced GHG emissions will definitely restore public faith in the transportation industry, and even welcome it into the modern age.

The chart below shows the pledges other countries have made to reduce GHG emissions. Most have set their bar a little higher by committing to reduce emissions to pre-1990 levels. Because of the US’s vastly larger size and population, their goals are scaled to expansive proportion.

It’s definitely a promising sign that G7 leaders have committed to even more reductions by 2050.

The program is extremely responsive to stakeholder input. It was developed through more than 300 meetings with people from the industry including manufacturers, suppliers, trucking fleets,dealerships, state air quality agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other stakeholders. Great pains were taken to identify and understand the opportunities and challenges involved with this next stage of fuel-saving technology. The conversations will continues as the plan moves towards implementation, and we’re excited to see what this means for the industry.