KING CITY, Ont. — Legitimate concerns continue to linger in advance of phase two of the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions standards being rolled out by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Those concerns are magnified here in Canada, where there’s fear the regulations won’t reflect our more diverse fleet and more productive weights and dimensions.
That was the message from PIT Group’s Yves Provencher, who this morning gave an overview of the next round of emissions standards at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s (PMTC) annual conference.
“There is lots of uncertainty,” Provencher said of the new standards, slated to be phased in between 2018 and 2027.
While he said the industry is on-board with regulations that will improve fuel economy, there are still many unanswered questions about the coming standards and how they will affect operators.
He noted OEMs may eliminate or discourage the use of certain spec’s that are still needed in Canada, yet won’t earn the manufacturer credits.
Provencher said the industry is also worried that the prescriptive approach taken by legislators may force the use of technologies that are not yet mature or fully proven.
“The big fear is that you end up with trucks that are not fully tested,” he said, harkening back to the problems associated with the early use of exhaust gas recirculation and exhaust aftertreatment systems.
Provencher said the made-in-the-USA regulations won’t account for the wider variety of configurations used in Canada. However, Canada’s transport sector is actually more efficient than that in the US when measured by CO2 produced per ton of freight hauled.
There will also be questions about how some of the spec’s employed by OEMs to meet the new standard will perform in Canada’s harsher climate. For example, low rolling resistance tires may not always provide the traction required in some Canadian applications, Provencher pointed out.
And then there’s the cost. Trucks built to the new standard will likely cost more, but Provencher added they’ll also be more efficient to operate. Lawmakers are aiming for a two-year payback on any technologies that are added to trucks and trailers to achieve the new targets.
The new standards will affect trailers first, beginning with model year 2018 designs. Box-style trailers will be fitted with aerodynamic skirts, automatic tire inflation systems, lighter-weight components and low rolling resistance tires.
Non-box trailers such as flatdecks won’t escape scrutiny. They’ll require add-ons such as low rolling resistance tires and automatic tire inflation systems, Provencher noted.
Tractor modifications will be phased in between 2021 and 2027. Provencher said the new rules are expected to reduce GHG emissions by a billion tons over the lifetime of the vehicles affected. A 24% fuel efficiency improvement is sought, which will bring societal benefits of about US$230 billion, according to estimates, but at a cost to industry of about US$24 billion.
A final rule stemming from the 1,329-page proposal was due out in March but the deadline has been pushed back to August.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News and Truck West magazines. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies