by ACEEE Senior Researcher Siddiq Khan
ACEEE applauds the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation for finalizing the second phase of fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles, model years 2021 through 2027. The Phase 2 standards will deliver major reductions in the fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of heavy-duty trucks and buses, which currently account for 23 percent of US transportation energy use. Capturing full-vehicle efficiency and regulating trailers for the first time, the Phase 2 standards would further reduce new heavy-duty vehicles’ fuel consumption by 25 percent, on average, by model year 2027. The final standards include a slight improvement over the proposed rule in the stringency of engine standards.
The Phase 2 standards will deliver major savings at the pump to truck owners and operators, which will in turn reduce the cost of freight movement nationwide. With these fuel savings, most truckers will recover the incremental cost of the more efficient trucks in less than two years. The standards also provide long-term certainty for manufacturers investing in clean engine and vehicle technologies. The Phase 2 program will strengthen the market for truck efficiency technologies, helping to ensure that the United States remains a world leader in this area.
While the standards set a course for fuel efficiency gains over the next decade, even further technological improvements are already well within view. The SuperTruck Program, a collaboration between the Department of Energy and truck manufacturers and suppliers, has brought to light engine technologies, aerodynamic improvements, and other fuel efficiency strategies that could take tractor trucks well beyond Phase 2 levels. Hybridization has substantial potential for other classes of vehicles covered by the standards. These and other measures to accelerate the development of advanced technologies for heavy-duty vehicles warrant further attention in the years to come.