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July 08, 2013
Many amendments for truck GHG standards

A revised method for generating advanced technology credits is included in several dozen amendments to the federal medium- and heavy-duty GHG emissions and fuel efficiency regulations jointly issued by the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on September 15, 2011.  All the amendments are included in a direct final rule that takes effect August 16, 2013.  The federal government issues direct final rules when it believes the action is noncontroversial.  If, however, a significant adverse comment(s) is received on a companion proposal, the responsible agency withdraws the direct final rule and may then issue a traditional final rule that contains responses to comments on the proposal.

8,500-pound minimum

The EPA/NHTSA rule applies to companies that manufacture, sell, or import new motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 8,500 pounds or greater and the engines that power them.  Covered vehicles include heavy-duty engines and Class 2b through 8 vehicles, including combination tractors, school and transit buses, vocational vehicles such as utility service trucks, and 3/4-ton and 1-ton pickup trucks and vans. 

EPA’s final GHG emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles will begin with model year (MY) 2014.  NHTSA’s final fuel consumption standards will be voluntary in MYs 2014 and 2015, becoming mandatory with MY  2016 for most regulatory categories.  Both agencies allow manufacturers to comply early in MY 2013 and provide incentives to do so.

Rapid certification
According to the agencies, the amendments are based on these implementation discussions with the stakeholders and are intended to eliminate duplicative reporting requirements, reduce inadvertent minor differences between the EPA and NHTSA programs regarding such matters as voluntary early model year compliance, and better align testing procedures to market realities and reduce unnecessary testing.   For example, the joint action will facilitate an expedited compliance process by allowing engine and vehicle certifi­cations, based on the amendments, to occur directly after publication.  

Regarding advanced technology credits, the action will allow manufacturers to generate these credits from multiple heavy-duty vehicle configurations within a vehicle family group by testing a single vehicle of that group, provided the vehicle tested has the smallest potential reduction in fuel consumption of the vehicles with advanced technology capability.  The EPA anticipates that this proposed change may reduce testing and reporting costs for manufacturers while still allowing flexibility in choosing to test additional configurations within the family group.

Replacement engines

Other amendments specific to EPA regulations fall into the following five areas:

  1. Replacement engines.   Modi­fications will allow, on a limited basis, the practice of replacing engines with engines that are cleaner but not certifi­ed to the most stringent standards.
  2. Nonroad technical hardships.   These amendments will allow for wider Agency discretion to provide additional allowances for equipment manufacturers to transition to Tier 4 standards, based on individual circumstances involving exceptional diffi­culties in the availability of compliant engines.
  3. Transition program for marine equipment manufacturers.   Amendments address a potential supply issue of compliant engines for marine installation during the transition to new emis­sions standards for land-based engines by temporarily allowing marine equipment manufac­turers to use allowances if a compliant marine engine is not available.
  4. Large spark ignition (SI) engine fuel lines.  This modification will allow fuel lines for large SI engines to meet either the 1996 or 2004 version of SAE J2260 to address a fuel-line supply issue.
  5. Small SI engines.  Through 2019 the EPA is aligning an optional certi­­fication fuel to California’s Phase 3 gasoline for small SI nonroad engines, along with equiva­lent stringency standards.

The direct final rule and proposal were published in the June 17, 2013, FR

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