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EPA-NHTSA Unveil Proposal for Phase 2 of GHG Truck Rule

The US EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration formally released their long-awaited proposal for the second round of greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency rules for commercial trucks.

Phase 2 of the regulations for 2021 to 2027-model trucks and tractors and 2018-to-2027 MY trailers covers entire vehicles and – as was reported earlier, there will be separate standards for truck engines, administrators of EPA and NHTSA confirmed.

The full,  1,329-page proposal can be read here.

The EPA trailer standards, which exclude certain categories such as mobile homes, would begin to take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers, while NHTSA’s standards would be in effect as of 2021, with credits available for voluntary participation before then,” the agencies said in a joint press release. “Cost effective technologies for trailers – including aerodynamic devices, light weight construction and self-inflating tires – can significantly reduce total fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, while paying back the owners in less than two years due to the fuel saved.”

EPA estimates that about $10,000 to $12,000 in new equipment or technology would be needed by a tractor-trailer to meet the requirements. EPA’s administrator Gina McCarthy pointed out that much of existing off-the-shelf technology now used to meet current Phase 1 economy and GHG requirements can extend into Phase 2, but new “innovative technology” will also be required, she said.

“Everybody will have lots of choice,” she added. “There will be no one path.”

At the press conference, EPA and NHTSA declined to give actual mile-per-gallon estimates. They told media there is no definite number because “medium- and heavy-duty trucks and combination vehicles vary greatly in configuration, weight and use.”

The American Trucking Associations offered a statement of support for the proposal, but said it remains concerned the rule may result in the use of certain technologies on vehicles before they can be fully tested.

“ATA has adopted a set of 15 ‘guiding principles’ for Phase II,” said ATA Vice President and Energy and Environmental Counsel Glen Kedzie, “and based on conversations with regulators and a preliminary review this proposal appears to meet 14 of those.

“We believe this rule could result in the deployment of certain technologies that do not fully recognize the diversity of our industry and could prove to be unreliable. This unreliability could slow not only adoption of these technologies, but the environmental benefits they aim to create,” Kedzie said. “To prevent this, truck and engine manufacturers will need adequate time to develop solutions to meet these new standards.

“… The potential for real cost savings and associated environmental benefits of this rule are there – but fleets will need a wide variety of proven and durable technologies to meet these new standards throughout the various implementation stages.”

Meanwhile, industry stakeholder reactions to the rollout varied. Engine makers strongly supported the proposal, while some truck manufacturers were more tempered.

The Volvo Group said it “supports ambitious goals to reduce GHG emissions and fuel consumption for the complete vehicle, including engine efficiency, while providing overall value to its customers.”  However, it took exception “in principle” to requiring a separate set of rules for engines as being “inconsistent with the Group’s interest in minimizing the complete, real world environmental impacts of its products.”

Volvo said that approach could  “limit OEMs flexibility to meet the regulated targets for each individual customer in a way that suits their specific needs, and incentivizes optimization for engine test cell requirements versus real world efficiencies.”

A 60-day public comment period will follow the proposal’s publication in the Federal Register, the Administrators said. And NHTSA and EPA will host two public hearings and continue an “open-door policy of meeting with stakeholders over the course of the comment period.”

In Canada, meanwhile, CTA is working with regulators to try and ensure that equipment imported into Canada is ready and proven to operate in specific Canadian marketplaces, such as withstanding our extreme weather conditions and operating conditions.

CTA staff has been travelling across the country to gather feedback from fleets on their opinions and concerns regarding Phase 2 and how they think governments should treat the Canadian version of the regulations.

CTA is in the process of preparing a position paper that reflects the Canadian industry’s preferred technological approach to truck engines, tractors and trailers that will be impacted by the next round of GHG regulations.

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