Fleet Ops: Fuel Efficiency
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Give Green Incentives to Truckers, CTA Tells Feds.

OTTAWA — “If ever there was a time to incent carriers to make choices consistent with government environmental objectives, it is now,” said Stephen Laskowski, senior vice president of the CTA, to the House of Commons Standing Committee of Finance yesterday.

In a pre-budget submission to the Committee, Laskowski and the CTA (Canadian Trucking Alliance) presented a plan for how trucking companies and the federal government can partner to make the trucking industry environmentally friendly while helping the overall economy.

“Government and industry interests are aligned,” Laskowski said.

Laskowski pointed to Environment Canada turning its attention to GHG emission reductions from heavy trucks, which is almost entirely a function of fuel consumption.

While the CTA said it supports Canada’s first-ever fuel efficiency standards for new commercial vehicles, they added that the regulation will cost carriers a premium for moving to GHG-compliant tractors as did the introduction of mandated smog-free engines before it.

This also comes at a time of economic uncertainty, CTA said in the press release, when tight access to capital continues to be a drag on investment in new, environmentally-friendly equipment.

As the regulation only applies to new tractors and engines, does not apply to the existing fleet of tractors, and trailers aren't included, CTA said that this places limits on any potential gains in fuel economy.

“Fleets are aging when carriers should be replacing older vehicles and investing in GHG compliant trucks and aftermarket devices,” Laskowski said. But because there is plenty of pre-owned, lower-cost equipment available, “truck buyers will have a choice not to purchase trucks that meet GHG regulatory standards.”

That isn't a bad thing, Laskowski explained, but it means substantive reductions in GHG could be delayed when the trucking industry is ready to invest in market-ready technologies right now.

The CTA told the Committee that incentives — like those granted to other sectors — should be extended to the trucking industry.
The tax system should be modified to reward trucking firms who make greener choices, Laskowski said. “Why has trucking — already complying with tough engine, fuel standards — not received similar consideration?”

Laskowski said that Canadian Capital Cost Allowance (CCA) rates for new tractors should be accelerated to give fleets incentive to purchase trucks that meet the new GHG standard, including alternative propulsion systems like electric hybrids and liguefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles. This isn't a tax reduction, Laskowski said, "its tax deferral."

Laskowski also encouraged the introduction of a time-limited, retrofit program for equipping existing tractor-trailers with aftermarket fuel efficiency tech.

CTA's "enviroTruck" plan combines new, smog-free truck engines with anti-idling, aerodynamic tech for both tractors and trailers. If Canada's fleet of 300,000 Class 8 trucks implemented the full plan, CTA says the industry could cut fuel consumption by 4.1 billion litres and reduce 11.5 million tones of GHG each year.

Laskowski said a program that gives incentives for enviroTruck tech would complement the GHG regulation and increase emission reductions at a quicker pace.

CTA also said that they are open to using revenues from the 4-cent/litre excise diesel tax to fund a retrofit program instead of, as Prime Minister Harper said in 2008, cutting the tax in half.

The proposed recommendations will have little impact on federal finances, Laskowski said. “But for just a modest investment, they could have a tremendous GHG reduction impact while at the same time also support Canadian manufacturers of the technology and help strengthen the economy.”

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