The Phase 2 truck fuel efficiency proposal is heading in the right direction, but has a few miles to go

Blog Post | June 19, 2015 - 3:55 pm
By Siddiq Khan, Senior Researcher

The fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards proposed today by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation would mean major gains in fuel efficiency for heavy-duty vehicles by 2027. The standards would deliver savings at the pump to truck owners and operators while reducing freight costs for businesses and for American families. The heavy-duty program is also a key element of the president’s climate action plan.

Yet the proposal falls short of what this program could and should achieve. ACEEE and others called for a 40% average fuel consumption reduction by 2025, relative to 2010 levels. Our first take is that the proposed standards would deliver a 36% reduction. The engine standards, in particular, appear to be weak, achieving only about 4% fuel savings, when they should be achieving over 10%. The purpose of having a separate engine standard is to set a high bar with a long lead-time, giving manufacturers the certainty to invest in major new technologies, like waste heat recovery. A 4% reduction in a decade just won’t do the job.

The proposal looks stronger in other areas, as in the standards for heavy-duty pickups and vans, though still a bit shy of achievable levels. It also fills some big gaps in the existing standards. Trailers will be brought into the program in 2018, which will reduce fuel consumption by up to 8%. Transmission efficiency and powertrain integration will be credited under the new program, another significant step forward.

We’ll be supporting timely finalization of the rule while seeking to shore up the weaker elements of the proposal during the comment period. Previously adopted heavy-duty fuel efficiency standards have already helped US companies to advance their leadership globally in truck and engine efficiency technologies, and a strong rule for the second phase of the program will help them consolidate that advantage.