The first U.S. fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles were formally announced in early August. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards with input from the trucking industry.
Under the joint DOT/EPA program, trucks and buses built from 2014 through 2018 will meet a range of fuel efficiency and emissions reduction targets specifically outlined for three major categories of vehicles. Included in this program are tractors, vocational trucks and buses, and heavy-duty pickups and vans. Within each of the categories, more specific targets are based on the design and purpose of the vehicles.
In particular, most tractor-trailer combinations will be required to achieve up to approximately a 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to four gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.
Vocational vehicles, including delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks, will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.
For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards will govern gasoline and diesel models. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately a 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.
The new standards rely on the use of offthe-shelf technologies. According to DOT/EPA estimates, technology upgrades for a tractor could result in net savings of $73,000 from reduced fuel costs over the truck's useful life.
The use of existing solutions is one reason that the trucking industry has supported the new standards. Announcing its approval of the new federal regulations, the Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group, an organization of some of the largest U.S. fleets, engine manufacturers and technology suppliers, cited the use of existing technology for commercial vehicles. It also noted that the regulations provide incentives for the development and deployment of innovative technologies, including waste heat recovery and hybrid power systems.
In April 2010, the group committed to work to help establish the new standards. " The regulation largely meets the principles that we outlined over a year ago," the group said in a statement. " We are pleased that the agencies listened and responded with a regulation that will preserve the ability to build and acquire vehicles needed to perform the diverse work in our economy while returning fuel cost reduction benefits in a reasonable timeframe."
Industry participation in the development of the new standards has gone a long way toward generating support for the fuel efficiency and emissions reduction initiative. That spirit of cooperation is a model to follow in the future.