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Truck Standards Could Cut Fuel Consumption 37% Below Current Levels

ACEEEThe EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s next-phase efficiency standards for heavy-duty vehicles could reduce fuel consumption 37 percent from pre-Phase 1 levels, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

In 2011, the agencies adopted the so-called Phase 1 standards to reduce the fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of heavy-duty vehicles in model years 2014–2018. The Phase 1 standards will reduce new heavy-duty vehicle fuel consumption on average by 15 percent.

The agencies are now working on the next phase of the standards — called Phase 2 — which will apply to later model year vehicles. A proposed rule is expected in late 2014.

According to ACEEE, strong Phase 2 standards could reduce fuel consumption to 26 percent below projected Phase 1 levels, or a 37 percent overall reduction from pre-Phase 1 levels. Standards set at this level in 2025 would yield more than 800,000 barrels of oil savings per day in 2035 beyond the benefits accrued by the Phase 1 standards (see chart), ACEEE says.

When designing the Phase 2 standards, agencies need to treat vehicles as systems, rather than as collections of components, ACEEE says. Taking such an approach will help spur the development of better transmissions, driveline efficiency, powertrain integration and hybridization.

Other ACEEE recommendations for the standards include integrating aerodynamic trailers with tractors. The standards should also draw into the market advanced technologies such as the engine “bottoming cycle,” which ACEEE says has been demonstrated in the Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program.

Heavy-duty pickups should benefit from all of the applicable engine and transmission technologies used by their light-duty counterparts, and hybrids should be integral to the vocational vehicle technology package, according to ACEEE.

In 2011, trucking industry leaders greeted the fuel efficiency standards with reactions ranging from cautious optimism to hearty enthusiasm. Navistar, Cummins and the American Trucking Associations came out strongly supporting the regulations. The Engine Manufacturers Association and the Truck Manufacturers Association described the program timeline as “challenging,” but remained optimistic that the standards would be met.

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