The Obama administration and federal agencies have proposed the first emissions and fuel-efficiency standards for heavy duty trucks and buses.
The proposed rules — which come from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency — would cover the small portion of America’s vehicle fleet not currently covered by any sort of emissions or fuel-efficiency standards. While this segment is small (representing only 4% of all vehicles on U.S. roads), it accounts for more than 20% of the total emissions created by transportation.
Vehicles that would be affected by the new rules include medium- and heavy-duty vehicles — such as the largest pickup trucks and vans, along with semi trucks — and all types and sizes of work trucks and buses, such as school buses or touring vehicles and RVs, as well as combination tractors.
The federal agencies are proposing that heavy-duty trucks and vans reduce their emissions by 10% for gasoline vehicles and 15% for diesel vehicles by the 2018 model year (12% and 17%, respectively, if accounting for air-conditioning leakage). Overall, the emissions cuts would reduce fuel consumption by 10% by 2018, according to the agencies.
Tractors and vehicles like garbage trucks, delivery vans and school buses would get different emission targets — tougher ones for tractors and lighter regulations for work vans and trucks.
The vehicles affected by these proposed standards not only include big commercial-type semi trucks but also retail vehicles that you might have assumed were already covered by NHTSA’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations (or CAFE), which require 39 mpg for cars 30 mpg for trucks by 2016.
Vehicles like the Ford E-Series Super Duty, Ford F-Series Super Duty, GMC Sierra Heavy Duty, Silverado Heavy Duty and Ram 2500 and 3500 HD currently have no fuel-economy standards and would be controlled by a CAFE-type standard under the rules. The standards would also affect some SUVs that slip slightly outside the jurisdiction of CAFE, like the Chevy Suburban 2500.
The new standards are simply a proposal for now; EPA and NHTSA are providing a 60-day comment period. If you’re a heavy-duty truck or van user, you should read the proposals carefully and see how they could affect your business. You can check out the proposals at the EPA’s website and NHTSA’s website, then let them hear what you have to say.