EPA, DOT outline elevated fuel efficiency standards for trucks

Environmental Protection Agency– 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.10 Truck 400

Vocational trucks would be differentiated by three weight classes and three driving or duty cycles. New CO2 and fuel consumption standards 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.

Also proposed are standards allowing direct engine emissions measurement, plus fuel efficiency and GHG emissions targets for trailers. EPA standards would begin to take effect for certain model year 2018 trailers, followed by NHTSA guidelines three years later, with credits to equipment manufacturers for early participation. Cost effective technologies for trailers, the agencies note, include aerodynamic devices, lightweight construction, and self-inflating tires.

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 under the program would exceed a year’s worth of U.S. deliveries from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Using metrics in conventional freight, the agency notes that a long-haul truck owner in 2027 will recoup the anticipated investment in fuel-efficient technology 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 proposed standards. “These efficiency standards are good for the environment and the economy. When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down.”

“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 contend, 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.

The proposed truck, engines and trailer guidelines are fully harmonized between EPA and NHTSA, which worked with the California Air Resources Board with an eye toward a single set of national standards. Throughout every stage of development, EPA observes, the Obama administration’s vehicle fuel efficiency program has benefited from close partnership with industry, labor and environmental leaders. A high level of engagement with stakeholders will continue to be critical, officials note, as feedback will be instrumental to agencies’ finalizing standards by 2016.

A 60-day public comment period will open upon publishing of the proposed standards 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 agencies’ notice of proposed rulemaking, are posted at www.epa.gov or www.nhtsa.gov.