New Fuel Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks

August 16, 2011

The White House recently unveiled the first fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty commercial trucks and buses.

Heavy-duty trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will improve their efficiency by 5 percent each year compared to a 2010 baseline.  The White House estimated that these efficiency increases will save vehicle operators approximately $50 billion in fuel costs throughout the life of the vehicles.  Vehicle manufacturers are expected to comply with the new standards by incorporating “off-the-shelf” technologies into new vehicles

The new regulations were welcomed by the country’s trucking industry, which participated in their development, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency.  Heavy-duty commercial trucks and buses include long-haul tractor-trailers, tour buses and other commercial and vocational vehicles with a gross vehicle weight over 8,500 pounds.

The heavy-duty vehicle sector currently accounts for 12 percent of all U.S. oil consumption and 17 percent of the oil used for transportation. Under the new standards, a typical “big rig” truck would improve its fuel efficiency by about 23 percent by 2018, boosting its average miles per gallon from 6 to 7.2 mpg during that time period. Other heavy-duty trucks would become about 15 percent more efficient by 2018 and buses would be 10 percent more efficient under the standards.

The projected cost increase of a tractor trailer is $6,220 while the estimated fuel savings are $73,000 over the course of the vehicle’s operating life. The new standards are projected to save 530 million barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles.

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