Federal agencies complete fuel efficiency standards

Federal agencies complete fuel efficiency standards

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly completed standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution.

These final phase two standards were called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and respond to the president’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.

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The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging wider application of available technologies and development of advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027. Final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by about 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program.

These final standards also deliver favorable payback periods for truck owners. A buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.

Heavy-duty trucks currently account for about 20% of GHG emissions and oil use in the US transportation sector. Globally, GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are growing rapidly and are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030.

The vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021-2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. These standards will result in significant GHG emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements. For example, when the standards are fully phased in, tractors in a tractor-trailer will achieve up to 25% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018.

The agencies are also completing fuel-efficiency and GHG standards for trailers for the first time. The EPA trailer standards, which exclude certain categories such as mobile homes, will begin to take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers, while NHTSA’s standards will take effect as of 2021, with credits available for voluntary participation before then.

Compared with the proposal, the final program:

•Achieves 10% more GHG and fuel consumption cuts.

•Has more robust compliance provisions, including improved test procedures, enhanced enforcement audits, and protection against defeat devices.

•Includes more stringent diesel engine standards.

•Improves the vocational vehicle program with a regulatory structure better tailored to match the right technology for the job.

•Maintains the structure and incremental phase-in of the proposed standards, allowing manufacturers to choose their own technology mix and giving them the lead time needed to ensure those technologies are reliable and durable.

The final rulemaking builds on the fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards already in place for model years 2014-2018, which alone will result in CO2 emissions reductions of 270 million metric tons and save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs.

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