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US groups tout benefits of truck fuel economy standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In anticipation of government-mandated fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-d...

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In anticipation of government-mandated fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and CALSTART have released a report touting the benefits of improving truck fuel economy.

Among the benefits described were domestic job creation, a reduced dependence on foreign sources of oil and financial savings for truckers.

The report, ‘Delivering Jobs: The Economic Costs and Benefits of Improving Heavy Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy,’ reported that more than 120,000 new jobs could be created in the US by 2030 if truck fuel economy is improved. The report said truck owners could save more than $120,000 (all figures US) per tractor-trailer over eight years, if average fuel economy is improved by 3.7 mpg.

“Investing in fuel efficiency technologies for heavy-duty trucks would create jobs in the manufacturing sector and throughout the entire economy because fuel savings outweigh the cost of more efficient trucks,” said Don Anair, a UCS senior analyst and co-author of the report. “Our report demonstrates that improving the gas mileage of these vehicles not only would provide opportunity for economic growth and job creation, but would strengthen our energy security and reduce global warming emissions as well.”

Environmental group CALSTART used a conservative figure of $3.50 per gallon when calculating the potential diesel fuel savings resulting from a government-mandated fuel economy improvement.

“Truck owners struggle most with fuel price and volatility because fuel is typically the biggest cost of their business. But they are also very sensitive to higher vehicle costs,” said Bill Van Amburg, senior vice-president of CALSTART. “That’s why we intentionally used conservative assumptions in our study and still found that new technologies that improve truck fuel economy will not only grow jobs but will save truck owners significant money – particularly if they evaluate the benefits over the vehicle’s life.”

Fleets operating the newest-generation tractor-trailers could save more than $120,000 per combination over eight years after recovering an initial investment of $62,000, CALSTART concluded.

It also predicted package delivery fleets could save $11,000-$26,000 over 12 years of ownership for every box truck upgraded with advanced fuel-saving technologies.

In total, UCS figred an overall investment of $4.7 billion in 2020 would result in net savings of $10 billion at fuel prices of $3.50 per gallon. Overall investment costs of $13.4 billion in 2030 would yield a net savings of $24 billion, the report found.

It’s also expected fuel consumption could be reduced by 10 billion gallons between 2010 and 2030.

“Despite real business case benefits, uncertainty about future policies can stall the development of these valuable new technologies,” said Van Amburg. “Smart federal policy, including clear, long-term performance standards and financial incentives, would help truck owners and the industry make the transition and stimulate the economy at the same time.”

The full report can be found here.

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