Cheers all around as Obama sets fuel efficiency goals for big trucks
First US fuel efficiency rules for heavy-duty trucks, unveiled Tuesday, are embraced by trucking firms, manufacturers, and environmentalists. They'll cut fuel consumption and carbon emissions.
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Truck operators will also save at the pump. A semi-truck operator could save enough fuel to pay for technology upgrades in less than a year, while saving $73,000 in fuel over the fuel-efficient truck’s useful life, the EPA reported.Skip to next paragraph
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But the trucking industry's embrace of the new rules may have as much to do with seeing the writing on the wall in California, which is beginning to clamp down in earnest on carbon emissions, industry officials say. Wanting to be out in front of that pending demand to cut greenhouse gas emissions was as much a driver as White House wooing, say industry representatives.
"There's always been an inherent motivation by truck manufacturers to make fuel-efficient rigs," says Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a diesel truck industry advocacy group. "But California is moving forward with a variety of steps to regulate CO2 emissions. Truck makers recognize that this opens a new chapter in how to think about emissions and the need to be ahead of the curve."
Fuel-saving technologies include advances in combustion efficiency, waste heat recovery, improved efficiency through advanced turbo-charging, and fuel injection, Mr. Schaeffer says. Other technologies such as lower-rolling resistance tires, aerodynamics, and idle-reduction strategies will cut fuel use, too.
Not all vehicles will use the same approach. While long-haul trucks save fuel mainly from aerodynamic improvements that cut vehicle drag, local pickup and delivery trucks will increasingly use hybrid power trains that reap gains from electric drive motors and regenerative braking because of the stop-and-go nature of their operations.
Environmentalists are cheering, too. Nearly 6 percent of all US greenhouse gas emissions – and 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector in 2007 – were from heavy-duty vehicles, the EPA says. Chopping more than a quarter-billion tons of CO2 emissions from truck emissions is a good step, green groups said.
“It’s great to see Washington get something so right,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “Thanks to these new standards, everybody wins: Truck drivers save money at the pump, America imports less foreign oil, and we all get to breathe cleaner air.”
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