Whitman: Engine cost and pre-buy estimates off mark

| Tuesday, August 06, 2002

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christine Todd Whitman in a July 25 letter to Rep. Ray LaHood (R-IL) discussed cost and pre-buy issues related to EPA's Oct. 1 deadline for lower emissions from diesel engines.

LaHood and other legislators recently asked the agency to delay the deadline, citing concerns about engine performance, maintenance and cost.

"I want to clarify that EPA does not have the authority to delay the October deadline date," Whitman said. "The consent decrees (which stipulated the October date) are binding legal orders which can only be altered by the court." Both Caterpillar Inc., which is in LaHood's district, and Detroit Diesel Corp., have asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to delay the deadline.

Whitman also took issue with claims that "non-conformance penalties" (NCPs) for companies not meeting the deadline would have a devastating impact on the trucking industry.

"There have been reports in the press that the per-engine NCP will be $15,000. These reports are simply not true ... We expect the actual per-engine penalty will be in the range of $4,000 to $5,000," Whitman said. "In fact, public information indicates the actual per-engine price increase will be in the range of $3,000 to $3,500. This price increase is certainly not insignificant, but would represent only a 3 to 5 percent increase in the price of an average heavy-duty truck."

Whitman also said pre-buying activity is negligible so far. "We know that 2002 January through May sales of Class 8 trucks were 53,814 compared to 61,063 for the same period in 2001. Based on these data, it is clear that truck sales for the last several months have been lower than sales during the same period in the past several years, suggesting that a major pre-buy has not yet occurred - at least through May of this year."

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