Trucking industry leaders offer guidance on new fuel efficiency standards

Some of the biggest names in trucking welcomed President Obama’s announcement of firm deadlines for the next generation of national fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy duty vehicles, including 18-wheelers, sanitation trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. To mark the occasion, an informal alliance of the country’s largest truck fleets, top engine manufacturers, and leading technology suppliers released a statement of principles they hope will inform and guide regulators as they develop national fuel-saving rules.

"Finalizing new fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty trucks will be an important milestone that should result in significant benefits to our economy, the trucking industry and the environment," said Douglas W. Stotlar, president and CEO of Con-way Inc., the nation’s third-largest freight company and a member of the Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group. 

"The development of these new standards continues to demonstrate meaningful progress between government and industry," Stotlar said. "This collaborative approach will result in realistic, achievable goals and an effective regulatory framework to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The Leadership Group formed in 2010 to provide industry input into the historic first-ever national greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles. Today President Obama announced that the next round of rules—Phase II, covering model years beyond 2018 and making further cuts in fuel use and greenhouse gases—will be finalized by the first quarter of 2016. The President directed EPA and the Department of Transportation to meet these deadlines in finalizing the new standards.

"This announcement is another historic milestone for commercial vehicles and the many industries which depend on the efficient, reliable power of diesel and natural gas engines," said Tom Linebarger, Cummins chairman and CEO. "Collectively, we have made significant progress toward reducing emissions and improving efficiencies – both of which benefit customers, the public and the environment."

"SuperTruck is a prime example of public and private organizations coming together and using technological innovation to drive business and environmental success," said Linebarger. "We’re looking forward to building on the success of Phase I and working together to develop Phase II standards that will allow our businesses to be successful and significantly reduce our environmental footprint."

According to the EPA and Department of Transportation, heavy duty vehicles are the transportation sector’s second-largest contributor to oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. They estimate that that Phase I standards will result in a net savings of $42 billion in fuel costs, even when the costs of compliance and new technologies are taken into account.

"As a power management company committed to increased fuel efficiency and reduced greenhouse gases, Eaton strongly supports the next phase of standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles," said Alexander M. Cutler, chairman and CEO of Eaton, a leading supplier of hybrid power train and advanced transmission systems.

"These standards provide important incentives to help deploy the next generation of fuel efficient technologies. Eaton stands ready to provide cost-effective hybrid and advanced drivetrain technologies that make vehicles more efficient while achieving significant operational savings for our customers' commercial vehicle fleets."

For the first time, fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions rules will likely cover the "trailer" part of tractor-trailers, setting standards designed to ensure that trailers contribute to better fuel efficiency and cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

“As the largest trailer manufacturer in North America, Wabash National welcomes the announcement that the Administration will finalize new standards for fuel efficiency of heavy duty trucks and trailers," said Dick Giromini, president and CEO of Wabash National Corporation.

"Wabash National has been a leader in the development of aerodynamic and other fuel efficiency technology on trailers for nearly a decade," Giromini said. "We look forward to working with the EPA and the Department of Transportation, as well as our customers and industry partners, to achieve new standards that result in greater fuel efficiency and environmental benefits in the years ahead."

As included in the Leadership Group’s statement of principles, Phase II provides an opportunity to achieve important economic benefits, while strengthening national security by lessening the nation’s overall dependence on oil. Phase II also represents a chance to build on the cuts in fuel costs, oil consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions being achieved during Phase I.

"In 2012, we achieved fuel efficiency gains and truck emission reductions of 20 percent, surpassing our sustainability goal of 15 percent for each by 2020," said David P. Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, which has the largest trucking fleet in the waste management industry. "We plan to achieve more, and hope our continuing fleet conversion to natural gas will inform Phase II program development by maintaining market, fleet and technology choices while achieving significant environmental and energy security benefits."

"Waste Management looks forward to working collaboratively with EPA and NHTSA to develop a successful Phase II program," Steiner said.
The Leadership Group believes that Phase II has the potential to drive more significant technology adoption than Phase I. Additionally, the CEOs say it is important to ensure flexibility and provide incentives as key attributes of any regulations going forward.

The Leadership Group also advises that some of the features that made Phase I regulations relatively easy to comply with—including a single national standard, regulatory certainty over time, and building on existing testing and certification protocols—continue in Phase II.