CTA wants to work with feds on fuel efficiency standards

OTTAWA — The Canadian Trucking Alliance is supportive of government plans to develop fuel efficiency standards for heavy trucks, but hopes the industry will have input so economic inefficiencies aren’t created along the way.

Last week, the U.S. government revealed that in the near future heavy- and medium-duty trucks will have to comply with national mileage and emissions standards.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency will work together in bringing out specific fuel efficiency benchmarks for 2014-2018 model highway and work trucks, with possibly tougher standards expected beyond.

Earlier this year, the U.S. said cars and light trucks will also have to comply with new fuel efficiency rules between 2012 and 2016. They will be expected to hit a 40 percent improvement, with a manufacturer’s fleet averaging 35.5 miles per gallon over the next five years.

At the time, Environment Minister Jim Prentice said Canadian rules would be harmonized with U.S. rules for passenger vehicles and Canada would do the same for the heavy truck standard.

"Fuel is either the first or second leading cost for a trucking company," said Stephen Laskowski, senior vice-president of the CTA. "So intuitively a regulation designed to reduce this cost should be welcomed by our sector, but the devil will be in the details."

The CTA is primarily concerned that the federal government needs to understand that trucking is not a homogenous industry, so when governments are adopting fuel efficiency standards they must be aware that the industry hauls all different kinds of product, with different types of trailers, of varying weights across different terrains which all impact fuel efficiency.

Furthermore, says the CTA, allowable weights carried on trucks and equipment, such as tires and aerodynamic devices, are provincially and state controlled which results in a myriad of regulations —- meaning certain fuel efficiency devices are allowed in one province and not another province or U.S. state making long distance trucking a difficult challenge when it comes to requiring specific technologies.

Consequently, any federal reforms regarding fuel efficiency standards must be accompanied by provincial and state regulatory reform regarding truck weights and dimensions.

"Today’s announcement will hopefully lead to technology, regulatory and taxation reforms that will help eliminate the fuel efficiencies lost by heavy trucks over the last few years because of federal smog control regulations," said Laskowski.

Although details are sketchy at this time, beginning with model years 2014-2018 fuel efficiency standard improvements of 20 percent or more are expected based on various reports.

Over the coming months, Environment Canada will be working with the trucking industry and its suppliers to draft a regulation for public review this fall. CTA has been assured by Environment Canada that they will be front and centre in the discussions.

Through these discussions, the CTA is hoping financial incentives can be developed to further the enviroTruck program.

Based upon the EPA SmartWay program, the CTA developed its own enviroTruck program, which includes after market devices such as auxiliary power units, roof and side fairings, cab extenders, boat-tails, and energy efficient tires. Under the enviroTruck program, CTA has been calling on the Government of Canada to partner with the trucking industry and manufacturers to provide meaningful financial incentives to accelerate the acquisition of these enviroTruck technologies.

“We interpret today’s announcement as opening the door for a meaningful dialogue on how we can move forward on this issue,” notes the CTA.

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