EPA, DOT Finalize Fuel Efficiency Standards for Trucks

Posted on 03/09/2017 10:26 AM


First-of-a-kind fuel efficiency standards for trailers also announced

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Updated fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles were jointly finalized Aug. 16 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The final phase two standards, aimed at improving fuel efficiency and cutting carbon pollution, were called for via President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and respond to the President’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.

The final phase two program promotes cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027.

The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion tonnes, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, according to the agencies, which noted the benefits outweigh costs by about an 8-to-1 ratio.

EPA said the final standards will be cost effective for consumers and businesses, with the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 projected to recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.

Compared to the proposal, the agencies said the final program:

  • Achieves 10 percent more GHG and fuel consumption reductions;
  • Has more robust compliance provisions, including improved test procedures, enhanced enforcement audits and protection against defeat devices;
  • Includes more stringent diesel engine standards; and
  • Improves the vocational vehicle program with a regulatory structure better tailored to match the right technology for the job.
  • Maintains the structure and incremental phase-in of the proposed standards, allowing manufacturers to choose their own technology mix and giving them the lead time needed to ensure those technologies are reliable and durable.

NHTSA and EPA also noted they worked closely with the California’s Air Resources Board (CARB) in developing and finalizing the standards, with the goal of setting harmonized national standards. The announced final standards have not yet appeared in the Federal Register.

"This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in announcing the standards.

The agencies also finalized fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards for trailers for the first time. EPA's trailer standards, which exclude certain categories such as mobile homes, will begin to take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers, while NHTSA’s standards will take effect as of 2021, with credits available for voluntary participation before then.

Compliance technologies for trailers – including aerodynamic devices, light weight construction and self-inflating tires – can significantly reduce total fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, the agencies said. The program includes provisions that reduce the initial burden on trailer manufacturers, such as a one-year delay in initial standards for small businesses and simplified certification requirements.

Impacts. The Obama administration estimates that the program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by around 1.1 billion metric tons – the equivalent of taking nearly all the cars in the U.S. off the road for a year – and cut oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles.

The updated standards could save owners roughly $170 billion in fuel costs over those lifetimes, according to a White House fact sheet. Truck owners, the agency said, would be able to recover the extra cost associated with making the vehicles more efficient and less polluting in less than two years through savings on fuel costs.

The White House also said it plans to set aside $140 million for research and development of the more fuel efficient vehicles.


NOTE: This column is copyrighted material; therefore reproduction or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.




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