Follow-up: Reactions to fuel economy and emissions mandate for trucks

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 2/20/2014

As the reactions show, everyone in trucking, shipping and manufacturing has something to say about fuel economy, specifically the call by President Obama for heavy-truck manufacturers to use technology to reduce fuel consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions beyond model year 2018.

Land Line reported OOIDA’s concerns on Wednesday about how the new standards will drive up the cost of new equipment for the small-business owners who make up 90 percent those moving freight by truck.

In the days following the announcement, others began weighing in.

“Look at the new technology costs and what happened with emissions, as the engine’s gone up $21,000 over a five year period for a Class 8,” said American Truck Dealers Chairman Eric Jorgensen.

“It wasn’t only that impact,” Jorgensen told Land Line. “You’re also adding on top of that the 12 percent FET, the Federal Excise Tax. And for truckers or trucking companies to finance this equipment, they’re going to have to come up with additional equity in the form of trade equity or more cash down.”

Jorgensen says attaining the type of increase in economy the administration is looking for will be as much or more of a challenge than the Environmental Protection Agency’s clampdown on greenhouse gas emissions that started more than a decade ago.

“What happened is that the cost went through the roof, and the technology wasn’t proven. Instead of people adopting this technology, because it was so expensive they found ways to keep their existing equipment longer. For us and our shops, our shop business boomed because of all the overhauls we were working on.”

U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., says he’ll file legislation to keep the White House out of the truck design business.

“The president once again thinks he is an automaker and a member of Congress with this latest mandate on trucks,” Roberts stated Thursday. “In fact, it is another end run around the Congress with the potential to create safety concerns and no measurable effect on climate change as indicated by his own EPA administrator.”

“Instead of letting the markets determine what kinds of trucks are produced, the president is doing it and in the end, it will be the consumer and the taxpayer who pay for it,” Roberts continued. “I have already heard from many Kansans worried about this announcement increasing the price of trucks they need for their businesses.”

The fuel-economy and emissions mandate calls on the EPA and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to issue a final rule by March 2016 to outline how the manufacturers are to carry it out. The president has asked the California Air Resources Board to assist.

“We look forward to teaming with the federal agencies and strongly support this effort,” CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols stated online. “We are excited to share the California experience and technical expertise gained from our early actions to reduce emissions and save fuel from the heaviest trucks via our California tractor-trailer greenhouse gas program over the last six years.”

Many truckers don’t see eye-to-eye with the California standards, and OOIDA has filed a lawsuit on their behalf saying the ongoing clampdown by CARB violated the Interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

A group called the Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group – with members from Con-way Inc., Cummins Inc., Eaton, FedEx Corp., Wabash National Corp. and Waste Management Inc. – formed in 2010 to support the first round of EPA/NHTSA fuel-economy standards for heavy trucks effective for model years 2014 through 2018.

The group showed up in Maryland for Wednesday’s announcement alongside the so-called “SuperTruck” built by Peterbilt, Cummins and Eaton, which uses all the bells and whistles on the truck and trailer to achieve 10.7 mpg. The average in trucking is about 6 mpg.

“SuperTruck is a prime example of public and private organizations coming together and using technological innovation to drive business and environmental success,” Cummins Chairman Tom Linebarger said in a statement.

The EPA and NHTSA have already tipped their hand that future fuel-economy standards for trucks will extend to the trailers.

OOIDA is concerned that a one-size-fits-all approach to fuel economy and emissions will leave truckers and fleet owners with fewer choices for spec’ing trucks to fit their operations.

As reported, even the American Trucking Associations, which had been onboard with the first round of fuel economy and emissions standards in 2011, is distancing itself from the second phase.

See related story:
Cost of equipment still a sticking point in new fuel economy mandate, OOIDA says

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