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Big Rig Standards Could Cut Freight Costs 7%

EDFIf bold enough, incoming fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for heavy-duty trucks being devised by the EPA and the NHTSA could reduce the cost of moving freight by 7 percent and owners of tractor-trailer units could save $0.21 per mile, according to a report from Environmental Defense Fund and Ceres.

The EPA and NHTSA adopted the first-ever standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines built for model years 2014 to 2018 — the so-called phase 1 standards — in 2011. President Obama pledged to set new emissions rules for trucks in his state of the union address earlier this year. The agencies are currently working on a second phase of standards for trucks beginning with model year 2019. The phase 2 standards are expected later this year.

Fuel is the single largest cost of owning and operating a heavy-truck, accounting for 39 percent of total costs. Strong fuel efficiency standards will target these costs largely by requiring the use of cost-effective, fuel saving technologies. Fuel savings will be significantly greater than increases in equipment costs, according to the analysis in EPA/NHTSA Phase 2 Fuel Efficiency and Greenhouse Gas Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks: Projected Effect on Freight Costs.

A $0.21 per mile savings, for example, has an annual savings potential in excess of $25 billion given that class 8 trucks in the US logged 120 billion miles in 2013, the report says.

In order to realize gains of this magnitude, large corporate consumers of trucking services need to join the call for bold, truck efficiency and greenhouse gas standards, EDF says. Companies can do this is by issuing public statements of support for a truck efficiency stringency target of 40 percent over 2010 by 2025.

According to a fact sheet by American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy and four other groups that was released last week, the standards could achieve a reduction in average new truck fuel consumption of at least 40 percent by 2025 from 2010 levels. The fuel reduction would yield oil savings of 1.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2035, and two million barrels per day in 2040, it says.

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