EPA, DOT target HD truck fuel efficiency gains north of 20 percent

Sources: Environmental Protection Agency; CP staff

EPA- and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-proposed performance standards covering 2021–2027 model year heavy- and medium-duty trucks would achieve up to a 24 percent reduction of fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions when measured against a 2018 vehicle. The agencies address concrete mixers and dump trucks within a larger Vocational Vehicles category of heavy- and medium-duty models, representing what officials estimate is about 20 percent of fuel consumption in the transportation universe their proposal covers.

Vocational trucks would be differentiated by three weight classes and three driving or duty cycles. New CO2 and fuel consumption standards for would start in model year 2021, with increased stringency in 2024 and fully phased-in levels by 2027. The agencies project that the proposed category standards could be met through engine, transmission and driveline improvements; gross vehicle weight reduction; lower rolling resistance tires; and, workday idle reduction technologies.

EPA and NHTSA claim the standards for vocational and conventional on-highway trucks are grounded in rigorous technical data and analysis; reflect extensive outreach with industry and other stakeholders; allow banking and trading emissions credits among manufacturers; provide businesses the opportunity to choose the most cost-effective compliance path; and, rely on cost-effective technologies, currently available or under development, to enhance fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In addition to transmission and tire criteria noted for vocational vehicles, the cost-effective technologies include engine combustion optimization and aerodynamic improvements.

Across the trucking sector and 2021–2027 window, EPA and NHTSA expect the proposed vehicle, engine, and trailer standards to a) lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1 billion metric tons; b) cut fuel costs by about $170 billion; and, c) reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over compliant vehicles’ service life. The reductions are nearly equal to the GHG emissions associated with energy use by all U.S. residences in one year, EPA contends, while the total oil savings would exceed a year’s worth of U.S. deliveries from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries cartel. Using metrics in conventional freight, the agency notes that a long-haul truck owner in 2027 will recoup anticipated fuel-efficient technology investment in under two years.

“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 upon announcing the agencies’ proposal. “These efficiency standards are good for the environment and the economy.”

“This proposal will save consumers, businesses and truck owners money, and spur technology innovation and job-growth, while protecting Americans’ health and our environment over the long haul,” added EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

Heavy- and medium-duty vehicles account for about 20 percent of GHG emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector, the agencies figure, but only comprise about 5 percent of vehicles on the road. Globally, heavy-duty vehicle oil consumption and GHG emissions levels are expected to surpass those of passenger vehicles by 2030.

A public comment period will be open for 60 days upon the proposed standards’ publishing in the Federal Register. EPA and NHTSA will host two public hearings and continue an open-door policy of meeting with stakeholders over the course of the comment period. More details on DOT’s and EPA’s notice of proposed rulemaking, are posted here and here.

Related article
Feds set deadline for electronic stability control systems on Class 7-8 trucks