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Truckmaker Raises GHG Phase 2 Alert

The “trucking industry continues to suffer from “technology fatigue from all the add-ons” required to meet earlier emission rules,” admits Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America.

Speaking with the media during the latest Volvo Ocean Race stopover, Nyberg said there is some concern that upcoming Phase 2 GHG regulations could push back hard against the advance of truck technology.

As reported by Heavy Duty Trucking, Nyberg argued that common sense should prevail as the rulemaking process proceeds. Phase 2 GHG rule, details of which remain unknown until a proposal is published in about a month, could require that both a total vehicle performance “assessment” and a separate engine “standard” be met for compliance .

“We need to be able to design equipment in the best way to meet regulations, but without having to add too much complexity,” he explained. Volvo would prefer to meet the new regulation “without being tied to an engine standard that would not take into account how different trucks actually operate.

“There is a difference between optimizing an engine [to meet a standard] running in a test cell vs. what will really work in all [truck] applications in different operating conditions,” he continued. “Those involved [in the rulemaking] must see the wider picture of what we will be dealing with as manufacturers.”

Nyberg pointed out that today, compared to 20 years ago when earlier emission rules were rolling out, “each fuel-efficient solution, such as aerodynamics, has to work for specific vehicles designed for specific applications.”

That’s why Volvo contends that GHG rules with single, total-vehicle requirements make the most sense, in terms of environmental compliance and cost feasibility.

As for why Phase 2 could be so onerous to deal with, Tony Greszler, vice president of government and industry relations, added if the final rule’s GHG limits are too stringent, “it could force technology on the market before it’s ready. The result, he said, might be the kind of truck pre-buying that plagued the industry with the onset of the 2007 EPA engine-emission rules.

Greszler advised that to meet a separate engine standard within the tighter Phase 2 limits might require adding on such technology as waste-heat recovery. “WHR componentry would have to be added in addition to existing engine hardware and chassis equipment,” he explained, “that would impact overall vehicle efficiency.

He said incorporating WHR would decrease fuel efficiency because:

  • More components would have to be packaged on the frame rails. That would increase the tractor-trailer gap, reducing the positive effect of aerodynamics.
  • A new, less-aerodynamic hood design would be needed, which would cause a “severe loss of fuel efficiency.”
  • The increased cooling capacity needed would result in more than a 1% fuel-efficiency loss for the vehicle.

Alt and Greszler advised the audience that depending on how the rulemaking is drafted,  Volvo “may ask you to get involved” in helping to head off a separate engine standard by stating industry opposition to “a [GHG] target that will force technology before it has been fully tested and is commercially feasible” via emails to EPA and NHTSA, the agencies jointly promulgating the GHG rules.

“If reason does not prevail,” Greszler warned, “Phase 2 could force a mandate on the industry for increase engine efficiency that actually reduces total vehicle efficiency.

“Truck design,” he added, “should meet customers’ specific applications, not government’s regulation.”

Many of those sentiments are being echoed by Canadian carriers, who confirm that downtime and service issues are a problem in the Canadian market. 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.

Carriers CTA spoke to were adamant that if Ottawa is to bring in new vehicle, engine and trailer requirements, regulators must ensure that equipment imported into Canada is ready and proven to operate into the unique Canadian marketplace, be able to withstand our extreme weather conditions, and be designed with failsafe measures to ensure drivers and equipment do not get stranded in remote areas.

Following these consultations, CTA will prepare a position paper that reflects the 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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