Small fleets face Sept. 1 deadline to buy years of California compliance time

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 8/22/2012

Owner operators and other small trucking fleets have until Sept. 1 to take advantage of a CARB plan that could buy them up to four additional years to comply with an expensive California emissions rule.
Companies that wait, however, must install aerodynamic equipment on their 2010 and older model year trailers by Jan. 1, 2013.
The California Air Resources Board says it has enrolled only 200 to 300 trucking fleets of 20 or fewer trailers in the agency’s SmartWay Rule, also known as the greenhouse gas tractor-trailer regulation.
CARB is worried, said Stephen Lemieux, that many small trucking fleets aren’t aware of the regulation and will miss out on additional time to comply with the regulation. Many larger fleets, which faced earlier reporting deadlines, appear to be more aware of the regulation and often have an ability to obtain discounts through bulk purchases, CARB says.
“These smaller fleets are having a harder time with financing,” said Stephen Lemieux, manager of CARB's on-road heavy-duty diesel section. “We really are concerned with this group. The big guys we aren’t so concerned with. These guys we are.”
CARB’s SmartWay Rule requires a specific combination of aerodynamic additions to 53-foot trailers and reefers, and by 2017 requires all trucking companies to have installed low-rolling-resistance tires on trailers and reefers with 2010 and older model years. 2011 and newer model year trailers are already required to have aerodynamic equipment installed.
Companies that own a single trailer can delay their compliance time until January 2015 by reporting before the Sept. 1 deadline. Companies with multiple trailers can use a fleet phase-in system that requires a certain percentage of trailers to have aerodynamic equipment installed each year during the next four years.

Lemieux said CARB estimates the average aerodynamic package of side skirts and trailer tails to cost about $1,200.
“That’s where it hurts,” Lemieux said. “But these things pay off in like three months. Some fleets have told us that after three months they’ve paid for the side skirt and after that it’s pure profit.”
To report your fleet’s information, click here. When reporting, fleet owners need to have specific information available, including trailer vehicle identification numbers, makes and model years, and license plate numbers. Reefer reporting requires the transport refrigeration unit model year and engine model year.

Lemieux encouraged truck and trailer owners to learn more about the rule, including several additional CARB SmartWay Rule requirements that aren’t well known. Lemieux pointed out that 2011 and newer tractors with sleepers need to be EPA SmartWay-approved, while day cabs with the same model years aren’t required to be SmartWay-approved models.
Also, beginning next year, retreaded tires will face requirements that they must be SmartWay verified and approved by the EPA. Tires retreaded in 2012 will be grandfathered in and will still be OK until 2015.
“After that, they’re going to go buy either a SmartWay-approved retread or a SmartWay-approved tire,” Lemieux said.
For more information, visit CARB’s TruckStop, or call the Diesel Hotline at 866-6-DIESEL (866-634-3735. The regulation is described in full here.
All U.S. EPA-approved SmartWay equipment is listed here.

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