Phase 2 GHG rules threaten Canadian equipment options

KING CITY, ON – A second round of U.S. rules designed to further reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions is threatening access to equipment spec’d to meet Canadian operating needs, says Yves Provencher of PIT Group, which runs third-party equipment tests.

The so-called Phase 2 rules were supposed to be finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June, but are now expected in August, he told delegates at the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada’s annual meeting. It is still unknown if Canada will simply adopt these rules or introduce revisions.

The challenge is that the rules are promoting changes designed with U.S. operating conditions in mind. On/off road equipment, heavy haulers, and Long Combination Vehicles account for a larger share of equipment in Canada than the U.S. Manufacturers will have a limited number of “credits” to produce things such as heavier equipment and aggressive tires, Provencher says, referring to the rules as they are currently proposed.

“We need those big lugs sometimes. We need those aggressive tires,” he said, noting how fuel-saving Low Rolling Resistance tires may not always be practical. Some aerodynamic devices can be damaged in winter conditions as well.

The credits may lead OEMs to eliminate or discourage “not-so-green tech”, even though it’s needed for operations. So, too, will manufacturers be under pressure to launch technology that might not quite be mature or proven.

Canadian fleets are even generating fewer on-highway Greenhouse Gas emissions because they are more productive, moving 20% more tonnes of goods per tonne of produced gases, he said. And aerodynamic devices can perform better in northern climes. “Air is more dense in winter.”

Medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 5% of vehicles but generate 20% of Greenhouse Gas emissions. They are expected to surpass passenger cars by 2030.

The current focus on Greenhouse Gases can be traced to several court decisions. In 2007, the US Supreme Court said the vehicle emissions were pollutants. In 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said that vehicle Greenhouse Gases endanger public health and welfare. Besides that, the only way to produce fewer Greenhouse Gases is to burn less fuel, and that offers carriers an operating advantage.The first round of Greenhouse Gas-reducing limits have been met through a combination of aerodynamics, fuel-efficient tires, lighter weights, reduced idling, and speed governors. “No one is against profitability and reducing fuel consumption,” he said.

The second round – to be rolled out from 2018 to 2027 — will look beyond tractors and engines, and will also include trailers. Overall, emissions are to drop 24%, representing a 40% improvement when compared to 2010 base equipment. Changes to trailers alone are to address 8%.

The $24 billion cost to the trucking industry is supposed to save society $230 billion. The curious thing about the promised two-year Return on Investments is that they’re based on some technology that doesn’t even exist yet, he said.

Engine targets are to be met through optimized combustion, reduced friction, better air handling and aftertreatment, as well as waste heat recovery. Trucks themselves will need to lean on improved aerodynamics, powertrain efficiencies, idle-reducing technologies and weight. Then there are trailer gaps, wheel covers and tires to consider. For dry vans and reefers – regulated for the first time – there will be a need for enhanced aerodynamics, Low Rolling Resistance tires, tire inflation systems, and lightweighting.

All of those need to be proven in computer models, which are being established through more than 2,000 simulations and 28 evaluated combinations.

There are also problems there. Provencher has doubts about “coast-down” tests that measure how long it takes a truck to roll to a stop. And there are still questions about how aerodynamic devices will be tested for the computer models that manufacturers will use when certifying equipment.

Downspeeding and downsizing is expected to reduce emissions 1.5-4%, but it’s hard to combine both because of Brake Mean Effective Pressure (BMEP) limits. Governed road speeds deliver returns, but the lost productivity is not included in the calculated Returns on Investment.

Lighter weights are not generated the fuel savings that were expected, he said, adding that big weight reductions are needed to generate significant benefits. Gains realized through waste heat recovery have also fallen short, topping out at around 3% lower gas levels compared to “great promises” that were shown. Turbo compounding didn’t help as much as expected, either.

“OEM technology testing will likely not be done with Canadian operations in mind,” he added.

Provencher also has challenges with the “prescriptive” rules that identify specific components needed to meet the standards. That could overlook emerging technology. “What if somebody discovers in three years from now that we have this technology that has an advantage?”

“There’s a big fear that you’re going to end up with vehicles that are not fully tested,” he says. “We don’t need less-reliable vehicles. We need more-reliable vehicles. And that’s something people are fearing right now.”


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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