Heavy Duty Vehicles
More than 600 days into the Trump administration, amid constant reports of regulatory rollbacks, there’s been surprisingly little damage to energy efficiency…yet. But now the administrative winds are starting to blow, rulemakings are under way—with a couple open comment periods—and we are working hard to hold onto the energy savings we have been helping to build.
Just hours before Administrator Scott Pruitt’s departure on Friday, the US Environmental Protection Agency reportedly widened a loophole for manufacturers of high-polluting glider trucks — new tractor trucks with old engines. Starting immediately, the EPA will not enforce a per-manufacturer annual production cap of 300 gliders that do not meet current emissions standards. Although the cap went into effect at the beginning of this year, the EPA plans to ignore and eventually repeal it.
The Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first of possibly several steps that could set back fuel efficiency for heavy-duty trucks, increase air pollution, and create market uncertainty for the trucking industry. At issue is the second phase of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) standards for heavy-duty trucks, adopted in 2016. These standards are estimated to save 800,000 barrels of oil per day by 2040, thereby reducing fleet operating costs and hence the cost of goods.
The first-ever Run on Less roadshow demonstrated just how fuel-efficient a tractor-trailer can be in real-world operation. Seven Class 8 Freightliner, International, and Volvo tractor trucks drove 50,000 miles across the country, carrying more than 55,000 lbs. of goods on average, and converged in Atlanta on Sunday for the grand finale.
Run on Less roadshow takes a national tour to showcase the next level of tractor-trailer fuel efficiency
In September, seven Class 8 tractor-trailers equipped with recent-model-year Freightliner, International, and Volvo trucks will participate in the first Run on Less roadshow to showcase fuel efficiency technologies. Organized by the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) and Carbon War Room, the event will demonstrate how today’s tractors-trailers use new technologies to achieve best-in-class fuel economy.
A key element of the “Phase 2” heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards adopted last fall was the program’s inclusion of trailers for the first time. That addition alone will deliver a cost-effective 7% improvement in tractor-trailer fuel efficiency.
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.
Heavy-duty vehicles (more than 8,500 lbs. gross vehicle weight) are central to our economy: tractor-trailers carry goods, vocational trucks and heavy pickups help provide services, and transit buses transport passengers. In 2015, heavy-duty vehicles represented only 5% of on-road vehicles but consumed 30% of all highway fuel. Tractor trucks dominate this sector, accounting for about two-thirds of heavy-duty oil consumption, followed by vocational vehicles and heavy pickups.
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.