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February 19, 2014
Collaboration on announced big truck standards

In a speech at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, President Obama announced that he had directed the EPA and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to develop the next round of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.  According to the White House, the two agencies are expected to issue a proposed rule by March 2015 and take final action by March 2016. 

The rulemaking follows EPA/NHTSA’s 2011 standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, which include combination tractors, heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and work trucks and buses.  Those standards, covering model years 2014 to 2018, phased in reduced GHG emissions from the three classes by 6 percent to 23 percent and also improved fuel efficiency over the 2010 baseline year.  According to the White House, the 2011 standards will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and a projected 530 million barrels of oil and lower GHG emissions by approximately 270 million metric tons. 


The White House notes that in 2010, heavy-duty vehicles represented just 4 percent of registered vehicles on the road in the United States, but accounted for about 25 percent of on-road fuel use and GHG emissions in the transportation sector.  Class 8 combination trucks, commonly called 18-wheelers, haul about 70 percent of all freight tonnage and over 70 percent of the value of all goods shipped.  Today’s 18-wheelers weigh between 33,000 and 80,000 pounds when loaded and average between 5.5 and 6.5 miles per gallon (mpg).  The Department of Energy is collaborating with major truck engine and body manufacturers to increase fuel economy to about 9.75 mpg. 

During his address, the president stood in front of the latest innovation, a Cummins/Peterbilt 18-wheeler called the SuperTruck.  A “concept vehicle” with a combined gross weight of 65,000 pounds was tested with 11 runs on a 312-mile route and averaged 9.9 mpg with a peak of 10.7 mpg.  Also, according to Cummins, in 24-hour head-to-head testing against a 2009 vehicle, SuperTruck demonstrated a 75 percent improvement in fuel economy, a 43 percent reduction in GHG emissions, and an 85 percent gain in freight efficiency.  SuperTruck is one of several initiatives under the 21st Century Truck Partnership, a public-private partnership founded to further stimulate innovation in the trucking industry.

Industry endorsement

The administration has generally worked cooperatively with the auto and truck industries in writing new national standards.  In a release, Cummins expressed support for the announced truck standards. 

“The first phase of these regulations provides a strong foundation that recognizes the needs of business while offering clear direction to create innovative technologies,” said Rich Freeland, Cummins vice president and president of Engine Business.  “With the announcement today, it is clear that the government will again take a collaborative approach.  We look forward to working with the regulators, our customers, and others on the next phase of standards that will lead to even greater reduction in GHGs and fuel consumption,” said Freeland.

A White House fact sheet

A Cummins/Peterbilt description of SuperTruck

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