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US sets fuel economy targets for heavy vehicles

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- US President Barack Obama today made official the first ever fuel economy standards for heavy trucks, in an expected announcement that was welcomed by truck and engine manufacturers but panned by a group representing small...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — US President Barack Obama today made official the first ever fuel economy standards for heavy trucks, in an expected announcement that was welcomed by truck and engine manufacturers but panned by a group representing small business truckers.

The plan was developed by the US Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency and will affect trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018. The Administration figures the program will save 530 million barrels of oil over its life while eliminating 270 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” President Obama said. “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium- and heavy-duty trucks.”

Obama said the industry will enjoy US$50 billion in net benefits from the program over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 trucks. The technology required to meet the standards will pay for itself in one year, the Administration estimates.

Semi-trucks will be required to achieve a 20% improvement in fuel economy by 2018 while vocational trucks will be expected to improve their fuel economy by 10% by the model year 2018.

Reaction from the industry came quickly and was mostly positive. Cummins said it would meet the new standards ahead of time.

“The emissions technologies in use today provide the foundation for meeting the 2014 standards, and Cummins is ready to meet this regulation in 2013,” said Dr. Steve Charlton, Cummins vice-president and chief technical officer, engine business. “Certifying our engines early will deliver additional fuel economy benefits to end-user customers and provide installation stability to our OEM customers. Continuing the use of our existing architecture means that customers can also expect improved reliability. This is simply part of the march down a path that we outlined several years ago to deliver increasingly clean, efficient and reliable products to our customers.”

Truck makers too were willing to meet the challenge head-on.

“Navistar commends the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for developing one single, national standard for GHG and fuel efficiency for medium- and heavy-duty engines and trucks,” said Navistar chairman Daniel Ustian. “We were pleased to be part of the process providing the agencies with information on the positive impact of total vehicle technology integration on fuel efficiency and GHG emissions.”

Volvo Trucks North America and Mack Trucks president and CEO Denny Slagle was with President Obama when he announced the new standards.

“While we haven’t had a chance yet to thoroughly review the final rule, we were pleased overall with the process, and the degree to which EPA and NHTSA involved and listened to the industry,” Slagle said. “Certainly the regulation will challenge the industry, but our past success gives us confidence we’ll meet the challenge. Our focus now is on doing so in a way that minimizes any negative consequences for our customers.” 

American carriers were also quick to laud the new rules.

“This is an important milestone for our industry and our country. We are pleased to be part of a realistic solution that will ultimately help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural resources by helping to increase the fuel efficiency of our industry,” said Douglas W. Stotlar, president and CEO of Con-way.

And Frederick Smith, president and CEO of FedEx added “Commercial vehicles account for approximately 20% of transportation’s fuel use, so fuel efficiency standards are essential to spur affordable and widely available cleaner delivery vehicles.”

But not everyone was happy. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OODIA) suggested small business truckers will be hurt by a “flawed, one-size-fits-all rule.”

“By totally ignoring the impact on small-business trucking, the EPA has demonstrated yet another example of our wretchedly broken regulatory process,” said Joe Rajkovacz, director of regulatory affairs for OOIDA. “Congress should take action when they return in September to rein in the bureaucracy and push forward regulatory reform legislation that has already been introduced.”

OOIDA said decision makers didn’t consider the impact the rules will have on small business truckers, who may have to pay more for new trucks.

“They also totally overlooked the most effective fuel-savings method of all,” added Rajkovacz. “Driver training, which is responsible for 35% of fuel economy and which costs far less than any new technology, should have been the priority.”

“This rulemaking basically takes EPA’s SmartWay program and mandates participation – regardless of whether certain technologies are appropriate for a particular operation,” Rajkovacz concluded.

Here in Canada, legislators are pining over a similar program that is expected to be packaged as more of a GHG reduction program than fuel economy program. But since most trucks purchased in Canada are built in the US, it’s expected the two programs will be nearly identical.

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1 Comment » for US sets fuel economy targets for heavy vehicles
  1. craig says:

    I realize we need to protect our enviroment and have no problem with that, however this is going to be very costly to small bussiness. I think the EPA has once again over stepped its athority. Instesd of enforceing laws already in place, they are pushing laws to be made, and or just making their own laws. America remember one thing the working man keeps this country going not the rich man. With that said Im glad there are rich people,they give me a pay check every so often to pay other rich people. With that said we are broke and we can’t find good paying jobs anymore. Bottom line if you out price the middle class then you have eliminated your customers and no one will have any money. Im all for protecting the enviroment but, make it affordable to the middle class and their families. When big bussiness cost goes up so does the middle class debt. We do not have the option to tell the boss, “hey the price of produce just went up I need you to pay me the difference.” Higher cost equals lower pay, lower pay means less spending into the economy. WAKE UP CORPORATE AMERICA AND STOP TAKING FROM THE POOR TO PAY FOR YOUR PLANES,TRAVEL,TOYS AND AUTOMOBILES!!! WE EARN OUR WAY YOU NEED TO DO THE SAME!!!

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