Heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency standards unveiled

Posted on August 9, 2011

New fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards unveiled today will require buses to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed the standards in close coordination with the companies that met with President Obama as well as other stakeholders, following requests from companies to develop the new national fuel efficiency program.

Under the comprehensive new program, trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.

This program — which relies heavily on off-the-shelf technologies — was developed in coordination with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, environmental groups and other stakeholders.

The joint U.S. DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets, which are specific to the diverse vehicle types and purposes. Vehicles are divided into three major categories: combination tractors (semi-trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (like transit buses and refuse trucks). Within each of those categories, even more specific targets are laid out based on the design and purpose of the vehicle. This flexible structure allows serious but achievable fuel efficiency improvement goals charted for each year and for each vehicle category and type.

The standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles and result in significant long-term savings for vehicle owners and operators.

By the 2018 model year, the program is expected to achieve significant savings relative to current levels, across vehicle types. Certain combination tractors — commonly known as big-rigs or semi-trucks — will be required to achieve up to approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to four gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Vocational vehicles — including delivery trucks, buses, and garbage trucks — will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018. These trucks could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

For heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, separate standards are required for gasoline-powered and diesel trucks. These vehicles will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018. Under the finalized standards a typical gasoline- or diesel-powered heavy-duty pickup truck or van could save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods and spur growth in the clean energy sector by fostering innovative technologies and providing regulatory certainty for manufacturers.

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