Canadian equipment prices to rise with emission rules

OTTAWA, ON – The federal government has published its plans for new Greenhouse Gas limits that will apply to 2018-29 Model Year equipment, effectively mirroring changes introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The required upgrades will cost Canada’s trucking industry an extra $4.1 billion, but save $10.3 billion in fuel, according to the Department of the Environment. When considering the overall lifespan of the affected vehicles, net benefits are expected to reach $8.8 billion between 2018 and 2050.

The upgrades are projected to add 8% to the cost of a typical 2027 Model Year tractor, or $11,322. Vocational vehicles in the same model year will cost an extra 4%, or $4,369. Trailers – introduced in emissions standards for the first time beginning with the 2018 Model Year – will see an average 4% price bump on 2027 models. That will be up $1,237. Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, meanwhile, will see price tags increase an average of 3% or $1,324 per vehicle.

For tractors the changes are expected to involve technologies like improvements in engine efficiency, aerodynamics, weights, idle-reducing tools, predictive cruise control, speed limiters, low-friction lubricants, electric and high-efficiency accessories, and efficient drivelines, axles and transmissions. Changes that involve tires alone could include the introduction of models with lower rolling resistances, tire pressure monitoring systems, and automatic tire inflation systems.

Trailers are expected to see some of the same tire-related changes, as well as aerodynamic enhancements including side skirts, underbody and rear fairings, and gap reducers. Lightweight components are expected to be needed, too.

Technologies unique to vocational vehicles include workday idle-reduction systems, hybrid applications, optimized powertrains, and reduced air conditioning leaks.

Canada’s Department of the Environment has been aligning with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions rules since 2003. But some changes to the latest round were made to account for Canada’s traditionally heavier equipment, setting limits for vehicles with Gross Combination Weight Ratings (GCWR) above 120,000 pounds.

The emission standards for heavy linehaul tractors would be less stringent than the standards for tractors with a GCWR below 54 431 kilograms (120 000 pounds). These standards would take powertrain characteristics required for tractors with higher payload capacities into consideration and, at the same time, reflect improvements in technologies reducing [Greenhouse Gas] emissions that are appropriate for highway hauling applications in Canada, such as technologies that reduce aerodynamic drag and main engine idling,” the proposal reads. These standards align with optional standards in the U.S.

Heavy-haul tractors above 140,000 pounds, typically used to haul high payloads over short distances, will also be less stringent.

Given that greater weights are permitted on Canadian roads relative to the United States, and that standards are proposed for heavy linehaul tractors to account for this context, the proposed amendments would introduce a Canadian-specific definition of a heavy-haul tractor,” the regulators add. The U.S. definition hits the threshold at 120,000 pounds.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) is in the midst of analyzing the proposal. “CTA has requested a recognition of Canadian weights and dimensions,” vice president Stephen Laskowski tells Today’s Trucking. The focus now is to see whether the underlying computer models fairly represent the Canadian fleet, he adds.

The overall changes are expected to eliminate 41 megatonnes of Greenhouse Gases that would otherwise be produced by 2018-29 vehicles, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 3 megatonnes by 2030.

Heavy-duty on-road vehicles accounted for about 8% of Canada’s total Greenhouse Gas emissions in 2014, annually reaching 56 megatonnes compared to the 1990 levels of 28 megatonnes. The levels were also on track to surpass passenger vehicles by 2030.

In terms of Canadian manufacturers, the changes will affect about 175 companies that produce or import small volumes of heavy-duty engines and trailers for the domestic market.

The proposed changes were published this week in Canada Gazette: Part 1, and are open for comment.

John G. Smith is the editorial director of Newcom Media's trucking and supply chain publications -- including Today's Trucking,, TruckTech, Transport Routier, Inside Logistics, Solid Waste & Recycling, and Road Today. The award-winning journalist has covered the trucking industry since 1995.

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