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Industry reacts to new heavy-duty truck fuel efficiency rules

Sept. 1, 2011
TRUCKING industry groups voiced general support for the fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and other commercial vehicles that were announced

TRUCKING industry groups voiced general support for the fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and other commercial vehicles that were announced August 9 by the Obama Administration.

The proposed standards were jointly developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The plan calls for commercial trucks to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gases by as much as 20%. If adopted, the rules would apply to vehicles manufactured between 2014 and 2018.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) praised the Obama Administration for their work to set, for the first time, fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. “Today's announcement by President Obama is welcome news to us in the trucking industry,” ATA President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Graves says. “Our members have been pushing for the setting of fuel efficiency standards for some time and today marks the culmination of those efforts.”

In 2007, ATA endorsed a six-point sustainability program that included a proposal to set technologically feasible fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty commercial trucks.

“While it is too early to know all the potential effects of this rule, we do know it sets us on the path to a future where we depend less on foreign oil, spend less on fuel and contribute less to climate change,” Graves says. “ATA is pleased that President (Barack) Obama, (Transportation) Secretary (Ray) LaHood and (EPA) Administrator (Lisa) Jackson have taken this historic step, but we believe these new standards are just one tool we should be using to cut fuel use by the trucking industry.”

Denny Slagle, president and chief executive officer, North American Trucks (Mack and Volvo), was among those attending a private meeting at the White House during which President Obama expressed gratitude to industry leaders for pulling together on a workable agreement that is good for both the industry and the environment.

“While we haven't had a chance yet to thoroughly review the final rule, we were pleased overall with the process, and the degree to which EPA and NHTSA involved and listened to the industry,” Slagle says. “Certainly the regulation will challenge the industry, but our past success gives us confidence we'll meet the challenge. Our focus now is on doing so in a way that minimizes any negative consequences for our customers.”

Truck engine manufacturer Cummins Inc affirmed its support for the regulation and announced plans to certify its engines early to meet these standards. The Company has worked proactively on the regulation with a wide range of stakeholders over the past several years and is already developing the clean and efficient technology that will be needed to comply.

“Environmental regulations can often be difficult for industry, adding cost and complexity,” says Rich Freeland, Cummins vice-president and president-engine business. “So early on, Cummins set out with the goal of helping the government establish a clear, consistent, challenging and enforceable regulation that recognizes the needs of business and provides incentives to companies that create innovative technologies as well as jobs in this country. This regulation will add real value for our customers as better fuel economy lowers their operating costs while significantly benefitting the environment.”

Freeland emphasizes that today's on-highway diesel engines in the United States emit 99% less Particulate Matter (PM) and NOx than they did 30 years ago. The Company's use of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology to meet the EPA's stringent 2010 emissions standards is a building block for the new GHG and fuel-efficiency standards. SCR not only reduces NOx to near- zero levels, but it also enables reduced fuel consumption.

Sean Waters, director of compliance and regulatory affairs, Daimler Trucks North America, expressed Daimler's support for the new federal regulatory proposal on greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency for commercial vehicles. “We have worked closely and productively with EPA and NHTSA and look forward to continued collaboration on implementation of the new standards,” he says.

Daniel C Ustian, Navistar chairman, president, and chief executive, adds “with this rule, EPA and NHTSA have now set an example for what could be a worldwide GHG and fuel efficiency regulation for heavy-duty trucks and engines.”  ♦