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New Emission Rules Could Bankrupt Upfitters

ST. THOMAS, ON —  If policy makers in Washington constructing the next round of greenhouse-gas emissions regulations aren’t careful, they might end up putting many trailer manufacturers and truck-body builders out of business.

That, basically, is the warning that Don Moore brought back from his recent trip to Washington D.C., where he met with Truck Trailer Manufacturer Association’s (TTMA) Engineering Committee and a number of key U.S. federal government officials. Moore is Executive Director of the Canadian Transportation Equipment Manufacturers’ Association (CTEA), which is comprised of trailer and truck body builders.

Mostly, Moore said, the greenhouse-gas emission guidelines (round 2) directly impact larger automobile and truck manufacturers; ie., organizations with serious R&D budgets that can withstand the necessary investment.

Upfitters and trailer makers not so much.

They’re mostly smaller, and often family-run, businesses.

“They failed to see that this compliance model is all fine and good in the automotive industry,” Moore says, “and the OEM truck tractor/chassis manufacturers can also see the advantages with such schemes. But when most of the industry companies are small and medium-sized operations, such systems don’t make sense.

“Also, the EPA folks seemed to think that all trailers makes and models were going to be tested to determine their fuel economy.

“Honestly, I don’t know how much wind tunnel time is, but I know there aren’t many of them and if the demand goes up, the increase in cost would likely put many of our companies out of business.”

And while the government presenters tried to assuage the meeting that they’re still in the planning stages and still researching the industry, Moore said he was shocked to hear that they aim to have their draft regulations ready in 2015.

"Again, I nearly fell over," Moore said. "This gentleman even had a smile on his face that seemed to say, 'No sweat, lots of time!' If their outreach activity is just beginning, I don’t see how they can meet such an aggressive timetable."

“This is of primary concern for trailer manufacturers and is, I think, very troubling,” he said.

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