New Truck Efficiency Standards Are Great News for American Innovation

We've partnered with businesses, builders, and local communities to reduce the energy we consume.  When we rescued our automakers, for example, we worked with them to set higher fuel efficiency standards for our cars.  In the coming months, I'll build on that success by setting new standards for our trucks, so we can keep driving down oil imports and what we pay at the pump.” — President Obama. 2014 State of the Union

Global warming pollution from our nation’s heavy trucks is projected to increase by more than 130 million tons between now and 2040. This is expected to be the largest increase in emissions from any single end-use.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We have the technology available to us to decrease freight truck emissions from today’s levels by 2030 – a 20% cut from our current path — and to go much further by 2040.

The average new heavy-duty diesel truck sold last year got slightly less than six miles per gallon.  Most of these trucks travel upwards of 120,000 miles and burn more than $80,000 worth a fuel per year.

This inefficiency has real costs for our economy. We import millions of barrels of oil to fuel these trucks. Businesses small and large spend billions on the fuel needed to move freight. You and I pay for this every trip we take to the grocery store too.

We have the tools today to change this.

Well-designed federal standards can foster the innovation necessary to bring more efficient and lower emitting trucks to market. In order to move these tools from the test track to the assembly line, manufacturers need to be confident in market demand in order to develop and launch efficiency improvements. Scaled production can drive down costs, further enhancing the payback truck fleets will experience through lower fuel bills.

Our heavy trucks can become much more efficient. In fact, recent analysis by ACEEE found that it’s realistic for new truck standards to be set high enough to achieve something approaching a 40% fuel consumption reduction compared to 2010 trucks within the next decade.

EDF has set out a blueprint for rigorous greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards. Through smart, well designed policies and American innovation, we can cut climate pollution and save fuel costs while strengthening our security and winning the race to deploy clean energy technologies in the global marketplace.

Many companies already have developed and are bringing to market the tools we need to meet a strong standard. Examples include:

Truck transmissions manufacturer, Eaton – which launched a powertrain package than can improve fuel efficiency by up to 6%.

Truck engine builder, Cummins Inc., and truck manufacturer, Peterbilt Motors Co. – which partnered last year to build a truck that "averaged 9.9 miles a gallon in road tests last fall." They did this through a suite of improvements; including capturing otherwise wasted thermal energy.

Smart Truck Systems, a supplier of aerodynamic products to the trucking industry – which has a product that can cut fuel consumption from tractor-trailer combination trucks by over 10% through advanced aerodynamics.

Also available to us is innovative axle technology that can increase truck fuel efficiency by 2.5%.

In addition, we have technology to power delivery trucks by advanced hybrid or fully electric systems.

To understand the positive economic potential of adopting strong truck fuel efficiency standards, we only need to look back to the start of this month.

On January 1st, our nation’s biggest trucks became subject – for the first time ever – to fuel efficiency standards. These standards cover trucks from large pick-ups to tractor-trailers. They will cut climate pollution by nearly 300 million tons while saving truck operators $50 billion.

For combination tractor-trailer trucks, these standards will cut annual fuel costs by over $18,000 at today’s prices. The fuel savings will pay back the increase in upfront costs in less than five months.

Companies that rely on trucking to move goods stand to benefit significantly too. These companies will see a decrease of around $0.11 in the total cost-per-mile to move freight. Across their supply chain, large freight shippers will save millions of dollars each year because of this rule.

These are real savings that businesses big and small are starting to see in their bottom line today.

These first generation standards introduced now were created with the broad support of the trucking industry and many other key stakeholders. Among the diverse group that supported this rule was the American Trucking Association, Engine Manufacturers Association and the Truck Manufacturers Association, the United Auto Workers, and EDF.

But this is just the beginning. With the right political and commercial will, EDF believes we can build on the partnership created during the development of the current standards to find common ground on the next phase of truck efficiency rules.

We can do this in a way that enables American business to thrive, cuts the need for imported oil by hundreds of millions of barrels a year, and slashes global warming pollution by over 100 million tons a year.

And because we can, we welcome President Obama’s call to action in the State of the Union.

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