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EnviroCan issues reg framework on truck fuel, GHG standards

OTTAWA – Canada has quickly followed up on the Obama Administration's monumental new fuel-efficiency and emissions standards with a regulatory framework of its own.

Environment Canada announced that it is committed to reducing total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 -- a target which is aligned with the goals of the U.S. – and the agency will look mainly to the road transport industry to achieve that.

"Canada and the United States have had great success in working together to reduce emissions from new light-duty vehicles, and we are looking forward to doing the same for heavy-duty vehicles," said Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

Heavy-duty vehicles, Transport Canada points out, represents 23 percent of total GHG emissions from transportation.

"Reducing emissions in this sector will help us achieve our 2020 target," says EnviroCan.

The Regulatory Framework consultation seeks early views from stakeholders, manufacturers or truck importers on key elements currently being considered for future regulations on post-2014 commercial vehicles and engines.

The proposed regulations will likely be developed for pre-publication in the Canada Gazette in mid-2011. A final rule is targeted for December 2011, which is in-line with the U.S.'s target implementation schedule. It would affect all trucks over 8,500 pounds.

As in the U.S. proposal (which aims to boost fuel economy by 3 to 5 percent between 2014 and 2017), engine fuel efficiency would be the main focus, but other aspects such as how transmission, tires and aerodynamic affect fuel economy and GHG emissions would also come into play.

Trailers would not initially be subject to the rules.

Also similar to the U.S. proposal, the rule would need to recognize the range of applications of various vehicles and consider emissions standards expressed as the quantity of GHG emissions emitted per unit of work.

"In general, vehicles with higher workload capacities are more efficient overall but do emit more as individual vehicles depending on its duty-cycle," says EnviroCan. "The proposed regulations would ensure that these vehicles would not be penalized and that purchasers would maintain the ability to specify and buy the right vehicles."

A well, the proposed regs could provide the option for OEMs to meet the standards on the basis of fleet averaging. The possibility to bank and trade emission credits could also be allowed.

The challenge, EnviroCan admits, is to keep the rules consistent across the whole range of commercial vehicles but also accommodate significant differences between the three groups of "heavy" trucks – heavy-duty picks and vans; combination tractor-trailers; and vocational trucks.

As most OEMs have pointed out in regards to the U.S. rules, the standards allow manufacturers to build compliant vehicles – at least in the short term – with technologies and components that are mostly available today.

Meeting the 5 percent benchmark at the tail end of the regulatory timeline, though, might call for some advancements in technology such as, perhaps, the use of exhaust waste heat recovery.

EnviroCan says it could also seek to reduce leakage of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant used in cabin air conditioning, which would be independent from the other GHG emission standards.

 
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