27 October 2010

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US Department’s of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed the first national standards to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses. For purposes of the proposed rulemaking, the heavy-duty fleet incorporates all on-road vehicles rated at a gross vehicle weight at or above 8,500 pounds.

Please log in to view the full version of this article (subscription required).

The proposed standards are applicable to three categories of vehicles: combination tractors, heavy-duty pickups and vans, and vocational vehicles:

  • For combination tractors (the semi trucks that typically pull trailers), the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards that begin in the 2014 model year and achieve from 7 to 20% reduction in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 2018 model year.
  • For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, the agencies are proposing separate gasoline and diesel truck standards, which phase in starting in the 2014 model year and achieve up to a 10% reduction for gasoline vehicles and 15% reduction for diesel vehicles by 2018 model year (12 and 17%, respectively, in GHG reduction if accounting for air conditioning leakage).
  • For vocational vehicles, the agencies are proposing engine and vehicle standards starting in the 2014 model year which would achieve up to a 10% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 2018 model year.

The majority of vehicles covered by the proposal carry payloads of goods or equipment, in addition to passengers. To account for this in the regulatory program, two types of standard metrics have been proposed:

  1. Gram CO2 per ton-mile (and gallon of fuel per 1,000 ton-mile) standards for vocational vehicles and combination tractors; and
  2. Payload-dependent gram CO2 per mile (and gallon of fuel per 100-mile) standards for pickups and vans.

NHTSA and EPA estimate that the heavy-duty national program would provide $41 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles. With the potential for significant fuel efficiency gains, ranging from 7 to 20%, drivers and operators could expect to net significant savings over the long-term. For example, it is estimated an operator of a semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year, and save as much as $74,000 over the truck’s useful life. Vehicles with lower annual miles would typically experience longer payback periods, up to four or five years, but would still reap cost-savings.

EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period that begins when the proposal is published in the Federal Register.

Source: US EPA