What to expect from Phase 2 of the US greenhouse gas regs

TORONTO, Ont. — By the time Phase 2 of the joint US EPA/NHTSA fuel economy standards for heavy trucks is implemented, a typical tractor-trailer should be 40% more fuel efficient than a 2010 baseline model.

About half of this gain will have been achieved through the first phase, still underway through model year 2018 vehicles. Getting there was relatively easy, since it involved the adoption of technologies already widely used in the industry, according to Glen Kedzie, vice-president, energy and environmental affairs counsel with the American Trucking Associations. He was speaking on the topic of rules and regulations and their effect on fleet operating costs at the second annual Performance Innovation Transport (PIT) Conference.

As Phase 2 is implemented, trailers will for the first time be regulated and some more advanced engine technologies such as waste heat recovery will need to be employed to meet the more aggressive targets, Kedzie explained. He added there is some urgency to rolling out the second phase, since the sun is setting on US President Barrack Obama’s second term and he wants these improvements to be counted among his environmental achievements.

“He wants this regulation completed under his tenure,” Kedzie said. “He wants this as part of his climate change legacy.”

The Phase 2 changes were first announced in June 2013 as part of the president’s Climate Action Plan. A proposed rule is due this March, with a final rule to come a year later.

The ATA has formed an advisory committee to put forth recommendations on what the new rules should look like. As in the previous round, there will be separate standards for engines and vehicles, Kedzie said, but this time around trailers will also be affected.

“It’s a done deal – trailers will be regulated for the first time,” he confirmed.

New rules are expected to be implemented as early as on model year 2018 trailers, meaning the changes could be seen as soon as January 2017. Trailer side skirts and automatic tire inflation systems could eventually become requirements. On the vehicle side, expect to see technologies such as waste heat recovery, the electrification of underhood components, lightweighting, hybridization and further aerodynamics come into play.

The lawmakers and industry are both calling for the required changes to deliver an 18-month payback as a result of the improved fuel economy that should be achieved.

“That’s what fleets are saying they want and what the agencies’ messages are. We’ll have to wait to see,” Kedzie noted.

It remains to be seen how the new standards will be phased in. While the industry awaits a formal rule, the ATA has some suggestions on how it should be rolled out.

“We’ve been doing a lot of data-gathering,” Kedzie said. “We want decisions to be based on industry data, not unverified data from industry groups.”

The association has also been emphasizing the need for harmonization with the US and Canada, though Canada, with its broader array of acceptable configurations and heavier payloads, may find it trickier than in the past to rubberstamp whatever rule the US comes out with.

The new rules could see a greater emphasis from the OEMs on selling their most fuel-efficient vehicles, which will earn them credits that can be applied towards the sale of non-conforming models. So while that longnose cowboy truck may still be on offer, the manufacturer will have to offset each one of those it sells by earning credits on the sale of its more efficient models.

“The manufacturers are going to try to get efficient equipment out there as early as they can, so they can stockpile these credits,” Kedzie predicted.

The ATA has several concerns and messages it is pushing to lawmakers:

  • That fleets can continue to spec’ out the equipment they need to perform their work
  • That frequent ‘Lookbacks’ on the early stages of implementation are conducted before the next stages are commenced. Is it working? What was the cost? What were the paybacks?
  • That the technologies employed are market-ready
  • That changes are implemented in a logical manner
  • That trailer manufacturers – especially smaller ones – aren’t crippled by costly testing requirements, the cost of which will be passed on to fleets

Kedzie concluded the ATA is also urging the rulemakers to take a measured approach and to not hastily foist unproven technologies onto the industry.

“We don’t mind buying technologies that are proven,” he said. “Not everything has to be captured under Phase 2. There will likely be more rounds in the future. The success of the rule can only go as far as proven technologies can take us.”

James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • James,

    I read with interest the comments by Glen Kedzie regarding likely technology that may be incorporated into the trucking industry to improve fuel efficiency. I was particularly piqued by the mention of “electrification of underhood components” and “hybridization”.

    I recall the Caterpillar MorElectric Truck that they had on the road around 2006. I don’t know what happened to this program and technology but I believe that the Supertruck program, along with Wal-Mart’s WAVE truck, incorporats the same electrification of engine components to improve fuel efficiency. I also believe that this technology is very similar to Carrier Transicold’s Deltek technology that they have incorporated into their Vector line of trailer refrigeration units that is showing fuel efficiencies.

    If the technologies that Mr. Kedzie is referring to are composed of replacing mechanical operation of engine components, such as the AC compressor and fans, water pump, fuel pump, etc. with electrical operation through the use of electric motors to run these components there is a secondary benefit. As with the Carrier Vector units, this technology lends itself to easily being capable of using plug-in power. If the AC system is now being operated by electric motors then these motors can be set up to access grid power when parked to eliminate idling the engine for power.

    There are many benefits to reducing idling and I believe one of them is that it can be used as a qualifying technology to meet greater fuel efficiency standards. Plus, this technology will meet the other requirements mentioned in the article such as the payback period and grid electricity is widely available.

    I would be interested in learning more about electrification and hybridization in the HD truck market to meet more stringent fuel efficiency standards.


    Joe Licari