MPG - What's In Store for 2018 and Beyond for Trucks?

October 30, 2014

Future Fuel Regulations

With heavy-duty trucks and buses producing an estimated 20 percent of greenhouse gases in the United States each year, it is understandable that any regulations to reduce America's dependence on fossil fuels and lower the resulting emissions are going to target the efficiency of long-haul tractor-trailers.

First-ever fuel standards

President Obama signed the first-ever fuel efficiency regulations for heavy-trucks and buses back in 2011. The administration called for improving fuel-efficiency by as much as 23 percent on new trucks by the 2018 model year. A move they estimate will lower oil usage by 530 million barrels and save truckers a combined total of $50 billion in fuel expenditures.

Officials expect these stricter MPG standards to add $6,220 to the cost of a new tractor-trailer, but it will save them an estimated $73,000 in fuel cost over the operating life of that same vehicle. Under the new standards, big rigs with high roof sleepers have to improve from the current average of 6 miles per gallon to 7.2.

Industry support for Phase I

The Transportation Department, Environmental Protection Agency, and most trucking industry officials met these new standards with enthusiastic optimism. Bill Graves, president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations, said truckers will make up for the higher up-front cost of equipment in two to three years, but things get tougher when trailers are "added to the mix."

Phase II for 2019 and beyond

Phase II standards apply to 2019 models and beyond. This second round of regulations also adds new rules for trailers. The EPA and NHTSA are assessing possible advanced technologies involving aerodynamics, weight reduction, and tire rolling resistance. Ben Sharpe is a senior researcher with International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). He feels fuel efficiency can be improved by between 7 to 10 percent per trailer and the overall goal needs to be cost-effective technologies to work.

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