New Clean Diesel Commercial Trucks are Prepared to Meet Proposed Greenhouse Gas Emission & Fuel Economy Standards

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“More than 95 percent of all heavy duty trucks are diesel-powered as are a majority of medium duty trucks. Diesel power is the driving force today of goods movement by truck in our economy. This proposal clearly envisions clean diesel power as the centerpiece of freight transportation in the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the non-profit Diesel Technology Forum.

It is fitting that a key solution for solving this challenge lies in the diesel engine

The Diesel Technology Forum today issued the following statement on the announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to establish a national program on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards for commercial trucks.

“It is fitting that a key solution for solving this challenge lies in the diesel engine”

“More than 95 percent of all heavy duty trucks are diesel-powered as are a majority of medium duty trucks. Diesel power is the driving force today of goods movement by truck in our economy. This proposal clearly envisions clean diesel power as the centerpiece of freight transportation in the clean energy economy of tomorrow,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the non-profit Diesel Technology Forum.

“Diesel engines offer an unmatched combination of energy-efficiency, work capability, reliability and now near-zero emissions environmental performance making them the technology of choice for commercial trucks today and into the foreseeable future. For all parties, the challenge of increasing fuel efficiency while maintaining or improving environmental, safety and productivity of commercial vehicles is as important as it is complex. It is fitting that a key solution for solving this challenge lies in the diesel engine.

“While not a new concept to diesel engine and truck manufacturers, pursuit of greater fuel efficiency has always been a key driver of product development to meet customer demands. As we learn more about the details of the proposal, it is expected that the proposed rule will likely expand the deployment of existing technologies and demand further innovation that recognizes the unique considerations of the trucking industry and commercial heavy-duty applications.

New 2010 Heavy-Duty Diesel Truck
Deploys the Most State-Of-The-Art Engine & Emissions Control Systems
“While continuously making commercial trucks more fuel efficient, diesel engine and truck manufacturers have also been making them dramatically cleaner. Over the last 10 years, emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and buses have been reduced by 99 percent for nitrogen oxides – an ozone precursor - and 98 percent for particulate emissions. Today’s new 2010 heavy-duty diesel truck deploys the most state-of-the-art engine and emissions control systems and has near zero emissions; a considerable accomplishment considering that increased fuel efficiency and lower emissions are near opposite and competing forces in diesel engine design.”

Fact Sheet
Background:
In May of 2010, President Obama, in a Rose Garden Ceremony, announced a new effort to propose greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks and to begin the process for further standards for light duty vehicles. (Note—this fact sheet focuses only on the Medium and Heavy-duty aspects of this rule. A separate statement was issued by DTF on the light duty aspect of the proposal).

Why is this proposed rule important?

  •     It is the first ever regulation of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy in this segment. Heavy duty tractor trailer trucks consume approximately 22 billion gallons of diesel fuel every year, with medium duty trucks consuming a considerable amount as well. The potential for fuel savings is significant.

What are the Medium and Heavy-duty trucks subject to this proposed rule?

  •     More than 95 percent of heavy duty trucks and a majority of medium duty trucks are diesel-powered.
  •     Practically speaking, these are work trucks – a wide range of types of vehicles from the largest pickup trucks and commercial delivery box vans up to “18-wheeler” tractor-trailer type vehicles. Fire and rescue trucks, logging trucks, dump trucks, flat-bed trucks, trucks equipped with cranes and lifts, cement mixers, refrigerated trucks, stake body trucks, roll-back trucks, cargo and step vans are all examples of the kinds of trucks covered by this rule. The rule will establish specific weight categories for the regulation. Medium duty vehicles are those weighing between 8,500 and 10,000 lbs gross vehicle weight according to NHTSA. EPA considers anything over 8,500 lbs gvwr as a heavy-duty vehicle. For more information or graphical images of the kinds of trucks covered by the rule contact shansen(at)dieselforum(dot)org.

Why haven’t these vehicles been regulated before?

  •     Pursuit of high fuel efficiency has always been a market imperative for this segment. Fuel costs are the first or second highest operating cost of most trucking operations, and the competition for fuel efficiency has always been an integral part of the market.

What is the average fuel economy of these vehicles compared to cars?

  •     Comparing the fuel economy levels of a commercial truck to a passenger car is not a reasonable comparison. Likewise comparing fuel economy standard for passenger cars to commercial trucks is not workable and has been acknowledged as such by NHTSA.
  •     For example, the differences in cars and trucks are many. The vehicles do very different tasks. The typical family car weighs around 2,000 to 4,000 pounds fully loaded. An 18-wheeler weighs about 80,000 pounds fully loaded at the legal federal limit, and the same cab will pull different commodities of different weights.
  •     An average tractor trailer fully loaded today achieves anywhere from 5.0 to 7.0 mpg.

What are the most important aspects of this new proposal for manufacturers?

  •     That this is a national program uniform to all 50 states: National uniformity is essential for many reasons relative to the overall feasibility, implementation, cost and acceptance of the program and vehicles produced as a result of the proposed changes.
  •     That ample lead time and stability are provided: This is important because the number of commercial trucks made and sold each year (several hundred thousand) is a tiny fraction of the 11-14 million cars made. The significant diversity in the marketplace will require many hundreds if not thousands of different approaches depending on the type of vehicle.    Manufacturers must have adequate lead time to make changes in technology for this diverse vehicle population along with regulatory stability so that they can recoup their investments over the longer sales and turnover cycles common in this segment.
  •     That this is compatible with the needs and complexities of the diverse marketplace: Commercial trucks encompass a wide range of types, shape and sizes with primary and secondary manufacturers of commercial vehicles, along with many vehicles customized to meet the needs of a broad range of specific work tasks. Efforts to impose fuel economy standards should not affect vehicle choice or such efforts could have unintended consequences of causing shifts in the marketplace to less productive and more vehicles on the road.
  •     That it is mindful of the other requirements placed on industry relative to environmental and safety requirements of commercial vehicles: Unlike passenger cars, commercial trucks must adhere to a number of additional federal and state safety and operational requirements. Provisions that impact fuel economy must not compromise safety or utility of the vehicle.
  •     The standards must be harmonized to the greatest extent possible: Both EPA and NHTSA are working on these standards, and both, as well as other divisions in DOT have additional impacts in regulating this sector. Any future standards should harmonize amongst all federal and state agencies.

Which technologies could be incorporated as a result of this rule?

  •     Many initial gains in fuel efficiency will be realized through improvements in the efficiency of the diesel engines. This will include further advances in combustion efficiency, waste heat recovery, improved efficiency through advanced turbocharging and fuel injection. Other technologies such as lower rolling resistance tires and aerodynamics, idle reduction strategies and other approaches may also be suitable as a total vehicle approach.
  •     Some vehicles may be more appropriate for some solutions than others. For example long haul trucks can benefit from aerodynamic improvements that cut vehicle drag and save fuel because they operate at higher average speeds. However local pickup and delivery trucks would not benefit from aerodynamics but would benefit from increased use of hybrid powertrains because of the stop and go nature of their operations.
  •     Many of the proposed technology solutions are “off the shelf” and the rule advances their wider spread implementation.

Resources

  •     Notice of Intent to Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for New Medium and Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Improvement Program
  •     Remarks by the President at Signing of Presidential Memorandum on Fuel Efficiency Standards
  •     Industry Capitol Hill Briefing May 2010 on Economic Growth Green Jobs Clean Trucks

NHTSA Docket number: NHTSA-2010-0079

ABOUT THE DIESEL TECHNOLOGY FORUM
The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit national organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit http://www.dieselforum.org.

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