After several delays, the US EPA/NHTSA agencies have revealed their proposed Phase 2 joint fuel economy/greenhouse gas reduction standards. They’ll build upon the Phase 1 regs, which came in with very little disruption the industry between 2014 and 2018. Most of the requirements set out in the first round of standards were easily reached using existing technologies that progressive fleets were already employing.

Phase 2 will be trickier, but according to regulators will improve heavy truck fuel economy by 24% over a 2018 model year baseline by the year 2027. That’s an ambitious target that won’t so easily be met.

How we’ll get there remains to be seen. Separate requirements have been set out for trucks, engines and – for the first time – trailers. This will annoy Volvo and Daimler, which had publicly advocated a single standard for the complete vehicle, which they said would better reward integration. There may be some continued lobbying on this front, while the proposal goes through its 60-day comment period.

There weren’t any shockers within the proposal, though I’ll confess to not having read all 1,300+ pages of it. There appears to be some extra time built into Phase 2 for OEMs to develop their strategies. The second go-round won’t commence till 2021 model year trucks are rolled out, so there’ll be a little breathing room between the first and second phases.

New trucks are expected to cost US$10,000-12,000 more by 2027, regulators admit, though they say that premium will be offset by improved fuel economy within two years of operation.

But then they call their credibility into question by also saying the regulation will bring a net benefit of some US$230 billion to the US economy – about $150 per American household – assuming all the fuel savings are passed along to consumers in the form of cheaper prices for consumer goods. Okay, then.

It remains to be seen what Canada will do. Well, our officials have already said we’ll march in lockstep on this with the US. But as has been pointed out many times already, that’s just not practical given the US standard is built around the 80,000-lb tandem-tandem configuration and we, in Canada, operate so much more than that. Some allowances will have to be given. There’s no other way.

You can read more about the Phase 2 regs here or if you’re dealing with insomnia and need a cure, you can read the entire 1,300+ page proposal here.

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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