On June 19, 2015, the EPA and the Department of Transportation’s NHTSA proposed a national program for the next phase of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. Going beyond the standards of Phase 1, the Phase 2 program touts energy security and manufacturing innovation. The standards cover model years 2012-2027 and apply to a wide range of on-road vehicles: semi-trucks, pickup trucks, vans, all sizes of buses, and work trucks. Added to the inclusion list for the standards are trailers, beginning with model year 2018.
If you missed the news from Capitol Hill regarding the EPA’s proposed fuel efficiency and carbon pollution standards for heavy-duty trucks, you’re not alone. Near the middle of June, amidst national media noise on other matters, the EPA, in conjunction with the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), proposed Phase 2 standards that will affect all of us, whether we drive a semi-truck, work truck, or a car.
According to the EPA, heavy-duty trucks are the second largest and fastest growing segment of the US transportation sector in terms of emissions and energy use. The trucking industry hauls about 70 percent of all freight in the US. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 15 percent of GHG emissions and oil use, but are only about 5 percent of the vehicles on the road. All this to say … GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030.
PHASE 2 IMPROVEMENTS
Phase 2 standards will build upon those already taking place through 2018. Phase 2 should implement a 16 percent reduction in fuel use and emissions and, when fully implemented, Class 7 and 8 vehicles should have a 24 percent consumption reduction.
The EPA and NHTSA are forecasting a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks as manufacturers embrace the standards and develop new technologies. To get vehicles from 8 mpg into double-digits means looking closely at body shape and design, including modifying tires and engines. Trailers are not immune; to account for an 8 percent reduction in emissions and fuel usage, manufacturers may need to choose a combination of technologies including light-weight components and automatic tire inflation systems.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
The EPA makes bold claims for the 2027 new work-truck fleet based on this proposed legislation: energy use will be reduced over the lifetime of the fleet; reduction of GHG emissions by 1 billion metric tons; $170 billion saved on fuel cost; and 1.8 billion fewer barrels of oil consumed. Consumers and businesses will experience a cost savings for the transport of goods from coast to coast. These savings are expected to trickle down to the cost of goods.
For the buyer of a new work truck in 2027, fear not. The EPA says you’ll recoup the padded sticker price in 2-6 years.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Donna Campbell is editor in chief of Modern WorkTruck Solutions and Modern Contractor Solutions. This monthly column will feature commentary on trending issues for work truck and transportation matters.