Fuel Standards for Heavy Vehicles Will Save Owners $35B, Study Says

08-19-2011 // David Shepardson/Detroit News

The following is an excerpt from the Detroit News. 

The first-ever fuel efficiency standards for heavy vehicles such as semis, garbage trucks, buses and heavy-duty pickups will save owners $35 billion in fuel costs, the National Wildlife Federation said in a study released Thursday.

Parking lot full of school buses

The NWF said the savings will come over the life of the vehicles, and the standards — required by a 2007 law — will reduce fuel consumption 7-20 percent, depending on the class of vehicles. 

The owners of work pickups could see a net savings of $3,200 to $4,950 in fuel costs, the NWF study found.

"For those who rely on trucks for work and recreation, these standards bring significant cuts in pollution while delivering impressive performance. That means trucks that work in the outdoors and, increasingly, work for it," said Zoe Lipman, the National Wildlife Federation's senior manager for transportation solutions.

"These new standards call for new technology. We are developing that technology right here in the USA," said David Perkins, president of UAW Local 171, which has more than 1,000 members at the Volvo Powertrain facility in Hagerstown, Md. "We are putting Americans to work in high paid, highly technical jobs."

Overall, the changes are expected to save the industry $50 billion in fuel costs, or 530 billion barrels of oil, over that period, but will cost manufacturers $8.1 billion to build the more efficient vehicles.

Prior to the 2007 energy law, medium- and heavy-duty trucks faced no regulations — unlike light-duty vehicles subject to the Corporate Average Fuel Economy mandates.

The standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks come less than two weeks after the Obama administration announced it had reached a deal in principle with major automakers and California to boost fuel efficiency standards for light-duty vehicles to 54.5 mpg by 2025. The regulation will be proposed by the end of next month and finalized by July 2012.

The NWF report noted that existing engine, transmission, body and tire technology delivers significant efficiency gains through innovation that often also provides power, acceleration or utility benefits. No efficiency technology considered by the agencies to meet the rule has a negative impact on performance.

Auto execs say parts makers will benefit from new technologies that will be needed to meet the new rules.

Brian Preston, a colonel in the National Guard and a member of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, said large truck owners are worried about high gas prices — including hunters.

"For the first time in my life, I've heard friends of mine talk about not going hunting because they can't afford that tank of gas," he said.

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