Trucks That Work

How new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards will deliver better, cleaner, cheaper-to-operate trucks —– and why it matters for truck owners, wildlife and the U.S. economy

08-18-2011 // Zoe Lipman and Mary Ellen Kustin
Trucks That Work Report Cover

As the nation looks to cut oil use, enhance national security, reduce pollution and provide relief to consumers from high prices at the pump, the most effective near-term means we have to respond is to deliver more efficient cars and trucks.

At the end of July, US EPA and NHTSA will release the first-ever standards to increase the fuel efficiency of medium and heavy duty trucks. The Heavy Duty (HD) National Program will complement existing and proposed standards for cars and light trucks that are already on track to deliver big benefits to consumers. Up until now these improvements were only required for smaller vehicles, leaving savings on the table for those who need larger trucks.

Download the full report: Trucks That Work (pdf)

This report reviews the proposed heavy duty truck standard, with a particular emphasis on the work pickup trucks used in outdoor and natural resource businesses and recreation. We find that new standards deliver. New technology means trucks that cut pollution while maintaining or improving performance.

Specifically We Find:

The proposed National Heavy Duty (HD) Program delivers major benefits to the nation overall in energy security, cash savings and pollution reduction. The standard will save the nation $35 billion in fuel costs, 98 million barrels of oil annually in 2030, and eliminate 246 million metric tons of carbon pollution over the life of the vehicles covered by the standards.

The HD National Program covers trucks weighing more than 8500 pounds, including large pickups, vans, vocational vehicles (such as transit buses, utility trucks, delivery vans, cement mixers, and school buses) and large tractor-trailers. It requires fuel consumption and carbon pollution reductions of 7 to 20 percent by 2018, depending on the type of truck.

These standards help individuals, large and small businesses, and government fleets save money and protect tight budgets from the impacts of rising gas prices. While new technology to save fuel does add modest additional cost, those costs are outweighed in all cases by fuel savings.

Owners of the largest trucks —– long-haul tractortrailers —– save $74,000 per truck after accounting for additional technology cost. Net savings for vocational vehicles averages $4000, while work pickup’s net savings range from $3200 to $4950.

Truck owners start saving on day one if they are paying monthly on vehicles that they’ve financed or leased. Moving to the more efficient trucks required by the standard protects individuals, businesses and local governments (and therefore the taxpayer) from thousands of dollars in budget overruns should gas prices rise.

These standards boost efficiency while safeguarding power and performance truck owners demand. Existing engine, transmission, body and tire technology delivers significant efficiency gains through innovation that often also provides power, acceleration or utility benefits. In fact, no efficiency technology considered by the agencies to meet the standard has a negative impact on performance.

While medium duty work pickups such as the Dodge Ram 2500 or F350 are covered by the Heavy Duty (HD) National Standard, similar, lighter pickups, such as the F150 or Dodge Ram 1500 are covered under the recently enacted 2012-2016 Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards for cars and light trucks. The Light-duty Program requires somewhat more rapid fuel efficiency improvements for light-duty pickups. This translates into somewhat greater cost savings and quicker payback for those truck owners.

The technology being adopted to meet the light truck standards, as well as other innovation, suggest a roadmap for ongoing efficiency improvements and cost savings for larger trucks.

The new car and truck standards, and the innovation that goes with them, also provide a roadmap to safeguard and grow hundreds of thousands of jobs.

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