Heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards are a signature program of the Obama administration, initially adopted in 2011. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) adopted a second phase of the program last month, built on the success of the Phase 1 program. Phases 1 and 2 together will reduce fuel consumption of new heavy-duty vehicles by 25-48%, depending on vehicle type, between model years 2010 and 2027.
Recent press accounts of automobile fuel economy trends express concern that light trucks won’t be able to keep up with rising fuel economy (CAFE) standards.
Over the past 40 years, light-duty vehicles in the United States have achieved remarkable gains in both fuel economy and performance. The graph below shows average miles per gallon, power-to-weight ratio, and 0-to-60 acceleration time of new cars and light trucks since the late 1970s. Fuel economy improved dramatically from 1975 to 1987, driven by the original Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, which were adopted in 1975 in response to the 1973 oil embargo by Arab states.
New fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines, proposed this summer, have just run the gauntlet of public comment on their way to final adoption next year. As proposed, these Phase 2 standards would provide major gains in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles by 2027.
Recently, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the White House Office of Science and Technology released the second Quadrennial Technology Review, or QTR. The 489 page tome bears resemblance to many other government reports that are too often relegated to the TL;DR file—too long; didn’t read. That would be unfortunate for those of us who care about the future of energy efficiency technologies.
On September 18th, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen for including software in their diesel vehicles that helps circumvent EPA emission standards for nitrogen oxides. As a result, greenercars.org has suspended Green Scores for the affected vehicles until further notice as these scores are no longer valid. Read more at greenercars.org.
Efforts to reduce energy consumption in the transport of goods often run up against the demand for speed, convenience, flexibility, and security. Send a shipment by energy-intensive air or truck if it is valuable or time-sensitive – rail or water will do if it’s not. The fundamental tension in moving goods today is between individualized treatment for each shipment and the efficiency of the system as a whole. But information and communications technologies (ICT) are increasingly offering ways to avoid that tradeoff.
In 2011, the EPA and NHTSA adopted the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines built for the 2014 to 2018 model years. Those standards, although not demanding enough to promote adoption of all available efficiency technologies, will benefit truckers and consumers and save over a half-million barrels of oil per day by 2030.
Last week a National Research Council (NRC) committee on heavy-duty vehicles released a report on technological, market, and regulatory factors relevant to the upcoming Phase 2 heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse emissions standards.
The president recently announced that a second phase of fuel efficiency and [no-glossary]greenhouse gas[/no-glossary] standards for heavy-duty vehicles will be proposed in March of 2015, with rule adoption a year later. Some aspects of the program are likely to change from the first phase of the standards.