NHTSA, EPA Finalize Next Greenhouse Gas, Efficiency Standards for Trucks, Buses

AASHTO Journal, 19 August 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency jointly finalized tougher new fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, buses, and construction vehicles, which are designed to cut fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The agencies worked with manufacturers and stakeholders such as truck fleet groups to develop the rules that will use available technologies and phase in over the next decade so that industries can adapt.

dollarpump.jpgThis is the second round of standards developed for cargo trucks, buses and work vehicles under the Obama administration, and after the initial standards were released the market quickly began offering models that exceeded those initial requirements.

The agencies said the earlier efficiency rules, for model years 2014-2018, will save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs. They added that truck sales were up in model years 2014 and 2015, the first years covered by the program.

The new vehicle and engine performance standards will cover model years 2021-2027 for big-rig cargo trucks, large pickups and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. The agencies said when the standards are fully phased in the truck tractors in tractor-trailer combinations will save as much as 25 percent in fuel and carbon emissions compared with an equivalent tractor in 2018.

Since they also apply to work vehicles at construction sites, they will curb fuel use and emissions around infrastructure projects over time.

And for the first time the agencies in this rule set fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for many types of trailers other than mobile homes. Those begin taking effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers.

Besides touting the benefits of the new rule in their press release, the agencies also posted a video to help explain it (below).

Chris Spear, president  of the American Trucking Associations, said: “While today’s fuel prices are more than 50 percent lower than those we experienced in 2008, fuel is still one of the top two operating expenses for most trucking companies. That’s why our industry has worked closely with both the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past three-and-a-half years to ensure these fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards took into account the wide diversity of equipment and operations across the trucking sector.”

The agencies said the final standards are cost-effective for consumers and businesses. The buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027, they added, “would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.” Major truck fleets usually operate new trucks for at least three to five years, while owner-operators and secondary market buyers will keep using them for much longer.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the new rules amount to “a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain.” He added that the program “preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”

The phase two program, the agencies said, promotes a new generation of 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.

They estimated that the standards will save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program and lower carbon dioxide emissions by about 1.1 billion metric tons.

“Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society including benefits to our climate and the public health of Americans,” the announcement said. “These benefits outweigh costs by about an 8 to 1 ratio.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations. 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.”

Here is the NHTSA/EPA video about the efficiency standards.

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