PHASE 2 WILL COST YOU $12K

July 1, 2015 Vol. 12 No. 13

 

Well, how could I avoid discussing the news that came out of Washington on June 19?

Phase 2 of U.S. fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas (GHG) emission regulations for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses is finally upon us, or nearly so. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that we've been waiting for has finally been published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It was originally due in March.

There can't be many of you who haven't read quite a few things about it so I won't go into voluminous detail here. It's so long and complex anyway that I wouldn't have the room, so I'll have to leave you on your own there. Suffice to say for the moment that the proposal contains no real surprises but a couple of questions were finally answered.

The proposal confirmed that trailers will indeed be part of the regulatory mix for the first time. More controversially, it also confirmed that separate standards for engines and vehicles will continue, which pleases that idea's main proponent, engine maker Cummins. Truck makers and rival engine builders Daimler and Volvo had pressed for a switch to a single efficiency standard based on the whole, integrated truck, engine included.

It seems very likely that Canadian legislators will simply follow suit, as they've done in the past, despite mild efforts by this country's trucking industry to press for standards that better fit our unique, and heavier, vehicles.

THE PROPOSED PHASE 2 REGIME calls for improved fuel economy for medium- and heavy-duty trucks by as much as 24% over 2014-18 levels by 2027, starting in model-year 2021. The standards would cover tractors, vocational trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all buses. 

 
 
 

Trailers will be regulated as soon as model-year 2018, as everyone expected. EPA’s emissions-oriented trailer rules will begin to take effect as early as that while the NHTSA regs focusing on fuel economy will be geared up in 2021, with credits awarded for voluntary participation before then.

There are no exotic technologies in play here, so we'll be seeing trailers with low-rolling-resistance tires, tire-pressure monitoring or control, trailer tails, and all manner of  fairings. We could -- should? -- be doing all this now.

 By 2018 all van trailers will sport every aerodynamic trick in the book
 By 2018 all van trailers will sport every aerodynamic trick in the book
The proposed standards don't mandate specific technologies but instead set performance objectives that truck, engine, and trailer manufacturers can meet however they choose. The EPA/NHTSA folks claim they'll rely on "cost-effective technologies that are currently available or in development." More on that last notion a little later.

The rules will allow banking and trading of emissions credits for most manufacturers.

AND WHAT WILL IT COST YOU? Yeah, well, this ain't pretty. As with every other EPA mandate, estimated numbers are flying all over the place. A class-8 tractor will cost 10-12% more under the Phase 2 rules, officials say. But they insist that by 2027, that cost increase will be recovered within two years of operation, thanks to reduced fuel consumption.

Not sure what happens between now and then.

To be honest, I'm left rolling my eyes even though I do believe that the sort of fuel-economy gains we're talking about here are reachable. Hell, we can nearly reach them right now. It's just that Washington's guesses have never been accurate. 

And the political suits just love to throw these wild macro numbers around in what amounts to a marketing attempt.

Take this one: the fuel saved over the course of Phase 2 will be equal to a year’s worth of OPEC oil imports to the U.S., according to Janet McCabe, EPA’s acting associate administrator.

The new standards will reduce CO2 emissions by about a billion metric tons, the EPA and NHTSA say. They estimate the proposed standards would result in about US$230 billion in net benefits over the lifetime of the vehicles sold in the regulatory timeframe, while costing the industry less than one-tenth that amount, about US$25 billion.

I guess they have to play at this macro level but I fear it blinds them to what goes on in the trenches. Where you work.

I'M NOT THE ONLY DOUBTER. The American Trucking Associations is quite supportive of Phase 2, but it's concerned the new regime may result in the use of certain technologies on vehicles before they've been fully tested. Gosh, that's never happened before.

“We believe this rule could result in the deployment of certain technologies that do not fully recognize the diversity of our industry and could prove to be unreliable. This unreliability could slow not only adoption of these technologies, but the environmental benefits they aim to create,” said ATA vice president and energy and environmental counsel Glen Kedzie. “To prevent this, truck and engine manufacturers will need adequate time to develop solutions to meet these new standards.”

The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and its American Truck Dealers (ATD) sub-group expressed a similar concern about the use of untested technologies, as well as increased truck costs.

"By the administration's own estimate, an average of just under US$12,000 added to the cost of a new truck through mandates based on potentially untested technologies is a great risk to a still-fragile economy,” the groups said. “Recent history has shown that mandates with underestimated compliance costs result in substantially higher prices for commercial vehicles, and force fleet owners and operators to seek out less expensive and less fuel-efficient alternatives in the marketplace."

According to NADA and ATD, the costs could even drive small fleets and owner-operators out of business, costing jobs and further impeding economic growth.

“While supportive of affordable fuel-economy improvements, ATD is closely reviewing the proposal and the many potential impacts it will have on truck dealerships and their customers."

The Missouri-based Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said it's reviewing the plan.

“OOIDA still needs to examine the proposal to see if the input from small-business truckers was truly taken to heart. However, based on reviews of initial summaries, we do have concerns that the rule will push truckers to purchase technology that is not fully tested and may lead to costs such as maintenance and downtime that will eclipse the potential savings estimated in the proposal,” said OOIDA director of government affairs Ryan Bowley.

THERE'S BEEN POSITIVE REACTION TOO. Cummins welcomed the proposal, saying it creates "a win-win for both customers and the environment... We are pleased that the new proposal builds upon the Phase 1 framework that aligns technological advances and industry success," said Dave Crompton, company vice president and president of its engine business.

Cummins president and COO Rich Freeland said it will be "building on the past 30 years in which we've reduced engine emissions in North America by more than 99%.

"We are looking forward to reviewing the proposal and working with the agencies and other stakeholders to make sure both the customer and the environment benefit," Freeland added.

OVER AT DAIMLER TRUCKS North America (DTNA), Sean Waters, director of product compliance and regulatory affairs, offered this formal statement:

"Daimler Trucks North America and its subsidiaries have focused for decades on improving freight efficiency in order to lower customers’ total operating costs. As the market leader in fuel efficiency, and the first to certify all of our products to Phase 1 GHG standards, DTNA shares EPA and NHTSA goals to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gases. We believe that the rule should reflect realistic vehicle production and operating conditions, and consider the cost-efficient, fuel-saving technologies in fleet operations in order to successfully meet our shared goals.

"We have provided the EPA and NHTSA with information about the fuel-saving potential of many technologies, as well as their relative cost and affordability for our customers. We are just beginning to review the details of the NPRM, and will continue to work with EPA and NHTSA on developing a final rule consistent with our goals of providing emissions and fuel economy benefits that reduce the 'Real Cost of Ownership' for our customers."

VOLVO, ALIGNED WITH DTNA in objecting to the separate engine standard, was a little more direct in its formal response to the proposed rulemaking.

"Environmental care is a core value for the Volvo Group, and we are aligned with the federal government’s goal to reduce GHG emissions from heavy-duty trucks,” said Susan Alt, senior vice president, public affairs, for Volvo Group North America. "While we will need to spend time thoroughly reviewing the details, we appreciate EPA’s and NHTSA’s outreach to the industry.”

"In principle," the company's press release went on, "the Volvo Group maintains that a separate engine standard is inconsistent with the Group’s interest in minimizing the complete, real-world environmental impacts of its products. A separate engine standard is at odds with the reduction of NOx, due to the natural trade-off between NOx and CO2 emissions from the engine. It also limits manufacturers’ flexibility to meet the regulated targets for each individual customer in a way that suits their specific needs, and it incentivizes optimization for engine test cell requirements versus real world efficiencies.

"The Volvo Group supports ambitious goals to reduce GHG emissions and fuel consumption for the complete vehicle, including engine efficiency, while providing overall value to its customers. The Group will prepare comprehensive comments to the rule within the allotted timeframe, and is committed to working with EPA and NHTSA to ensure that the Phase 2 program is good for both the environment and its customers."

THE MAIN DOCUMENT is 1349 pages long, so I'm afraid I haven't read it all yet. I wonder if anyone has. You can access the whole kit and kaboodle here if you have the gumption to wade into that very chilly water.

 Shape of things to come: Freightliner's SuperTruck
 Shape of things to come: Freightliner's SuperTruck
What, I'm asking myself, is a kaboodle? But I digress.

To be strictly formal about it, this is a proposed rulemaking, and I suppose it's theoretically possible that the 60-day public comment period could lead to some significant reversals in the original plan. But don't hold your breath.

The proposed GHG and fuel-economy rules are expected to be finalized in early 2016.

FREIGHTLINER'S SUPERTRUCK HAS WON the 'Distinguished Achievement Award' from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Introduced to the public last March, the very special truck was designed to show how fuel consumption can be reduced by aerodynamic and other energy-management measures, along with the use of an intelligent powertrain components -- and some tricks that we'll likely never see in production, like carbon-fiber body parts.

Daimler Trucks North America began the 5-year SuperTruck study in 2010, and received subsidies amounting to US$40 million from the DOE, matched by its own $40 million investment in research and development. It was one of four SuperTruck projects sponsored by the DOE.

The aim was to increase the transport efficiency of a tractor-trailer by 50%, but Daimler managed to exceed this figure significantly. It reached 115 percent (measured in ton-miles per gallon) compared to a 2009 baseline truck.

The SuperTruck is equipped with a Detroit DT12 automated transmission and predictive technology which uses GPS and digital 3D maps to control vehicle speed.

THE SHOWS AND CONFERENCES...

 Classic Trucks in Clifford, happens this coming weekend
 Classic Trucks in Clifford, happens this coming weekend
A personal favorite event happens later this week, July 3 and 4, namely the Great Lakes Truck Club's Antique and Classic Truck Show at RotaryPark in Clifford, ON. Events don't come much better than this one. E-mail to info@greatlakestruckclub.com or  cliffordshow@outlook.com for more info or visit http://www.greatlakestruckclub.com. Call club president Chris Hall at 519-787-0811.

On July 21-23 at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI, it's the Automated Vehicles Symposium 2015. A multidisciplinary forum designed to advance the deployment of automated cars and trucks. Each day will kick off with high-level presentations by some of the brightest minds in the field, conference organizers say. Before July 19 a 3-day pass will cost US$630. One-day passes are also available. Find out more at http://www.automatedvehiclessymposium.org/home

The Fleet Technology Expo is a new event that's an expanded and revamped Green Fleet Conference & Expo, organized by the publishers of Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT), Automotive Fleet, Green Fleet, and Work Truck magazines. Educational sessions include strategies on reducing fuel use and maintenance costs to optimizing fleet software and data to alternative-fuel adoption. It happens on August 24-26 at the Long BeachConvention Center in Long Beach, CA. Call 800-576-8788 for more info or see http://www.fleettechnologyexpo.com/

Moving on to September, body builders and vocational equipment manufacturers will have the chance to see the latest commercial chassis offerings from 13 leading OEMs at NTEA’s Truck Product Conference. On Sept. 15-17 at the Royal Dearborn Hotel & Convention Center in Dearborn, MI, this event provides the work truck industry with details on product updates critical to upfitting commercial vehicles. Discounted pricing ($119 for NTEA members and $219 for non-members) can be had on or before Friday, Aug. 28. After that date, it goes up to $149 for NTEA members and $249 for non-members. See ntea.com/truckproductconference or call 800-441-6832.

THIS NEWSLETTER IS PUBLISHED every two weeks. For the most part it's a heads-up notice about what's going on with trucking technology. I also write here about interesting products that may not have had the 'air play' they deserved within the last few months, and maybe about issues that warrant attention in my occasionally humble opinion.

I should remind you that I don’t endorse any of the products I write about in this e-newsletter, nor do I have the resources to test them except on rare occasions. What you’re getting is reasonably well educated opinion based on more than 35 years in trucking.

If you have comments of whatever sort about The Lockwood Report, or maybe you've tried a gizmo I should know about, please contact me at rolf@newcom.ca

THE MAGAZINE

Today’s Trucking’s June 2015 issue is ready to read online!

The whole world is talking about autonomous trucks, but if you want to find out what they’re really all about, check out Rolf Lockwood’s cover story. Plus, get the inside scoop on the trailer shortage and read about Editor Carter’s fight for justice in the case of the $400 parking ticket.

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