Phase 2 GHG regs a work in progress

ORLANDO, Fla. — Time is running out to comment on the joint EPA/NHTSA greenhouse gas Phase 2 regulations, which were proposed in June and set to go into effect on 2021 model year trucks.

The official comment period will end Oct. 1, at which time the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will review input from stakeholders and make any necessary amendments to the regulation. The final rulemaking will be released in the second quarter of 2016.

The proposed rule calls for fuel economy improvements of: 4% from the engine; 8% from trailers; 24% for tractors; and 16% for vocational trucks, compared to a 2017 baseline. The improvements will be phased in between 2021 and 2027 model year trucks, with trailer improvements set to begin in 2018.

“The long lead time is extremely important to ensure reliability and durability,” EPA representative Matt Spears told attendees at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s fall meetings here this week.

He acknowledged the Phase 2 requirements are “more aggressive” than the Phase 1 regulations, which were met using mostly off-the-shelf technologies already in widespread use. As with the previous round, truck manufacturers will choose which technologies to employ. They could include: engine, transmission and driveline improvements; weight reductions; engine start/stop technologies; low rolling resistance tires; aerodynamic devices; waste heat recovery; reduced friction within the engine; and improved emissions aftertreatment systems.

The cost of complying will likely add about 12% to the purchase price of a new highway truck, Spears acknowledged. Trailers and vocational trucks are likely to climb in price by 5%. However, Spears said model year 2027 tractors will deliver an ROI in their second year of use due to improved fuel economy, with vocational trucks delivering a payback in their sixth year.

“We see this as an opportunity to bring down the costs of transporting freight, benefiting business and consumers,” Spears said, noting US$170 billion in fuel savings is expected to be achieved over the life of the vehicles sold under the program. Spears also noted the Phase 2 standards will move the US ahead of Europe in terms of emissions reductions from heavy vehicles.

Jason Johnson of Kenworth said, “There will be technologies on trucks we have not seen yet.”

Charlie Fetz of Great Dane Trailers, said his company is still studying the regulation to determine how it will meet the requirements. Low rolling resistance tires, tire inflation systems, weight reductions and aerodynamic fairings are likely to be employed.

“Some people may be forced to buy things they don’t want to, such as aerodynamic options or low rolling resistance tires,” he said, noting items like tires and aero devices will be considered part of the trailer’s emissions equipment and will have to be maintained.

In the early stages of the program, dry vans will need low rolling resistance tires and either skirts or trailer tails to comply. By 2027, they’ll likely need both side skirts and trailer tails and possibly even more, Fetz said.

Certain trailer types will receive exemptions or be excluded from the rule altogether. For example, tankers won’t require trailer tails and log trailers and cattleliners won’t have to comply at all. Rulemakers are still working to define heavy-haul for the purposes of the rule, so there could be some leeway afforded there, Fetz added.

The EPA’s Spears also provided some clarity on how gliders will be affected by the new rules. He said gliders themselves won’t be outlawed, but OEMs will have to install in them engines that meet current emissions standards. There’s an exception for small businesses that sell only gliders; they’ll be allowed to continue selling a limited number of gliders with pre-emissions engines.


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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  • I found this section of your post interesting: “They could include: engine, transmission and driveline improvements; weight reductions; engine start/stop technologies; low rolling resistance tires; aerodynamic devices; waste heat recovery; reduced friction within the engine; and improved emissions aftertreatment systems.”

    I do not see anything that addresses idle-reduction, which should be an industry goal, except engine start/stop technologies. This may be a viable technology for short term parking but I do not see it as a good solution for long-term parking such as that required by hours-of-service regulations. Engine start/stop will still create diesel emissions and waste fuel while parked. It will still expose the driver to vibration and noise (especially during the starts) which can disrupt sleep and will continue to expose drivers to toxic air contaminant while they are resting which, in my opinion, may disrupt health.

    A better solutions needs to be used. At this point it is most likely a battery-based APU with a shore power connection for long-term parking along with the electrical connections where long-haul truckers park for HOS. I believe that the same initiatives that the US has employed to make electric vehicles successful (which includes the electric vehicle supply equipment) can be used to help the long-haul trucking industry meet idle-reduction goals. Idle-reduction will help the industry meet engine/truck efficiency goals, it will help the country meet GHG reduction goals, it will reduce dependence of foreign (and domestic) oil and the wasteful use of fuel while a vehicle is parked, and it will reduce emission of harmful and unhealthy toxic air contaminants in diesel exhaust which may be detrimental to a drivers health and wellbeing.

    There are so many positives to idle reduction that it should be an industry wide goal with some government incentives to help achieve it. The recent downturn in fuel prices should not have any bearing on trying to eliminate idling. That was never the point.

    It is not just the economic argument for idle reduction that is important. There should be more concern for long-haul drivers. It is a notoriously unhealthy occupation and studies show that drivers have a shorter life expectancy than the general public. Perhaps providing rest periods that are conducive to achieving better sleep and provide for a more healthy environment will have many benefits.

    Here is something that caught my attention. The initiatives to help meet the Phase 2 efficiency standards, particularly those being investigated by the US DOE’s SuperTruck program, include electrification of engine components. This technology can make is easier for trucks to be shore power capable and be able to run engine components, such as AC, when plugged in. If we are also looking to the future of the trucking industry, battery technology and shore power should play a role in trying to eliminate idling.