EPA assists in purchases of fuel-saving, cleaner equipment

| 3/21/2008

Ready to invest in fuel-saving, cleaner equipment? In a sneak preview to its launch next week at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY, the EPA met with media and industry officials via a conference call Thursday, March 20, to introduce the SmartWay Finance Center.

The Environmental Protection Agency has set up a Web site at smartwayfinancecenter.com to assist truck operators who want to obtain financing for SmartWay approved technologies to save fuel and reduce pollution.

Paul Bubbosh of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality announced the SmartWay Finance Center will be officially launched on Friday, March 28, at a press conference at MATS.

The EPA does not provide the actual financing. Rather, it contracted for that with iBank, which was selected after an open bidding process. According to Tom Markel, vice president of iBank, the bank coordinates with private sector lending institutions that are selected for their understanding of owner-operators’ and small fleets’ needs and business environment, and their willingness to work with truckers.

iBank and EPA created a standardized application form. Applicants need to fill it out only once. It will be circulated to all lenders in the applicant’s area. For those without computers or Web access, a toll-free phone number will be available, 1-877-767-8875.

Product categories eligible for competitive SmartWay financing include idle reduction technologies, aerodynamics, wheels and tires, and fuel efficient tractors and trailers. Currently, each truck OEM produces at least one SmartWay recognized vehicle. According to Bubbosh, there are three manufacturers of SmartWay recognized trailers

Idle reduction equipment covered by the program includes auxiliary power units and generators, battery systems including inverters to power engine-off air conditioning, fuel-operated heaters and thermal storage systems. Also in the program are automatic tire inflation systems and low rolling resistance tires.

No makers of chemicals or fuel line devices and magnets are currently affiliates of the SmartWay program. Only affiliates in good standing are eligible to have their products financed through the SmartWay Finance Center.

There are no guarantees of getting a lease or a loan. The SmartWay Finance Center, administered by iBank, will act as a facilitator between lenders or lessors and applicants, simplifying the process. Interest rates and acceptance will depend on the applicant’s credit score. An applicant can expect a response in two to five business days.

– By Paul Abelson, senior technical editor