Fuel-Saving Tech Driven by Mandate or by Market?

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Ben & Jerry's Chief Counters Trucks.com Column

Ben & Jerry's truck at loading dock is at Waterbury, Vt. ice cream plant. (Photo: Ben & Jerry's)

...efficiency gains don’t often come on their own. They require smart and strategic policies that drive innovation.

Ben & Jerry’s Chief Executive Jostein Solheim argues that stricter fuel-economy and emissions mandates for trucks make both environmental and economic sense in a column published by Trucks.com.

Solheim debates a recent opinion piece by Trucks.com Chief Executive Jeremy Anwyl that challenged a coalition of businesses that is seeking more stringent regulation on trucking firms by the Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Policy must drive fuel-efficiency adoption, Solheim writes:

"Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of Trucks.com, recently argued that if more efficient trucks were in fleet owners’ economic interest, market forces would encourage the production of such trucks in the absence of regulation.

"On the face of it, this sounds like it should be true, but history has shown that efficiency gains don’t often come on their own. They require smart and strategic policies that drive innovation. We know that without long-term standards in place to level the playing field, truck manufacturers would find it much harder to commit to the multi-year investment of bringing fuel-efficient technologies to market."

Solheim contends that green technology will hedge companies from inevitable spikes in the cost of fuel down the road. And while Anwyl questions if consumers or fleet owners should bear the cost burden for advanced technology, Solheim repositions the question, stating consumers and fleet owners already bear the burden of inefficient technologies financially and environmentally. Solheim’s op-ed is available here https://www.trucks.com/2016/05/12/ben-jerrys-believes-strict-truck-emissions-rules-help-profits-planet/.

In April, an open letter published by environmental advocacy group Ceres, and backed by a coalition of businesses with signatories including Ben & Jerry’s, General Mills and Annie’s, urged the agencies to impose a 40 percent reduction in fuel use by heavy truck fleets by 2025, instead of the proposed 36 percent reduction by 2027. Anwyl’s op-ed “Don’t Use Faulty Economics for an Environmental Argument,” available here https://www.trucks.com/2016/04/14/dont-use-faulty-economics-for-environmental-argument/, questions the coalition’s push for the mandated adoption of fuel-efficient technology rather than making a cleaner environment — along with realistic cost increases — the centerpiece of its position.

“If the technology were proven, available and as cost-efficient as the proponents of increased standards claim, then we wouldn’t need to regulate higher standards at all. Market forces would see to the adoption of the required technologies in short order,” Anwyl, who in 2011 was called to give testimony to Congress about Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, said. “Viewed this way, the proposed increase in fuel-efficiency standards, let alone a more extreme increase, introduces risk through the forced adoption of new technologies.”

Trucks.com announced its public preview in March and has since served up insightful news content and thought-provoking commentary from the trucking industry’s thought leaders through its website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Group and its content distribution agreement with Forbes.com.

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Stephanie Mar
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