Fuel-Efficiency Standards Finalized for Heavy-Duty Trucks

August 18, 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have finalized new standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and reduce carbon pollution while also strengthening national energy security and manufacturing innovation.

According to the EPA, the final Phase 2 standards respond to President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his administration’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.

The final Phase 2 program promotes a generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027.

The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to the climate and Americans’ public health. Specifically, the EPA says these benefits outweigh costs by about an eight-to-one ratio.

Furthermore, the final standards are cost-effective for consumers and businesses, as they deliver favorable payback periods for truck owners. For example, the 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.

“The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations,” says EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse-gas [GHG] emissions while driving innovation and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond.”

“Today’s ambitious-but-achievable announcement is a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain,” says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”

This announcement is particularly notable in that heavy-duty trucks are the second-largest segment and collectively make up the biggest increase in the U.S. transportation sector in terms of emissions and energy use. These vehicles currently account for about 20% of GHG emissions and oil use in U.S. transportation overall. Globally, GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are growing rapidly and are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030.

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