DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of August 8, 2011
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Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards have been applied to heavy-duty vehicles for the first time. Starting in 2014 new trucks will have to be much more fuel efficient.
The Obama Administration announced this week that, for the first time, the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards would apply to heavy-duty vehicles. This would stretch from large pick-up trucks all the way up to the big rigs and would make the same demands of truck manufacturers that car manufacturers have had since the 1970’s.
Increased Efficiency Standards: The following increases in fuel efficiency are being applied:
- Combination Tractors: Up to 20%
- Heavy-Duty Trucks and Vans: Up to 15%
- Work Vehicles (e.g., transit buses and garbage trucks): 10%
According to the Department of Transportation: “Long haul trucks will save an average of 4 gallons for fuel for every 100 miles traveled. Heavy-duty pickups and vehicles like buses, delivery trucks, or vans would save one gallon for every 100 miles traveled.”
The fuel savings are also expected to have a significant effect on reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide.
Current Trucks Will Remain On the Road
The new standards, which are effective for the 2014 to 2018 model years, will not affect current trucks. You will not be required to update your current vehicle. The Obama Administration, however, is citing a number of reasons as to why you might want to buy a new vehicle once the new rules are in place.
Lifetime Cost Savings
The White House is, of course, worried about our reliance on foreign oil and, in particular, the vulnerability of our goods transportation system. Currently, 95% or more of all purchased items in the United States have spent some time on a diesel truck. By reducing the amount of fuel that we use, we reduce the need for oil from volatile areas such as the Middle-East. It is estimated that by adopting these new standards, the nation would use 530 million less barrels of oil.
From the owner-operator and the fleet owner’s perspective, though, the best incentive is savings. A semi-truck driver would see, on average, $73,000 in lifetime savings when compared to a current vehicle. The DOT estimates that for most trucks the additional cost caused by the new technology would be off-set within the first year of ownership.
Is Hybrid Technology The Answer?
In order for these new standards to be reached truck manufacturers will have to follow the lead of car makers and invest in new technology. The most likely candidate for achieving these new standards is hybrid-electric.
In fact, many of the manufacturers have already started to develop hybrid solutions, principally for the military. Obviously, when driving through the Afghan desert, soldiers don’t have the option of stopping for gas and the hybrid solutions have worked well at extending range. It should be noted, however, that most of the hybrid trucks used by the military are on the lighter end of the weight scale.
Perhaps indicating that this is the route that they intend to follow, the major truck manufacturers have all at least demonstrated hybrid technology although there is not much that is actually available to purchase today — these solutions will have to be made available before the standards come into effect.
Streamlining a Solution
Beyond the power train, the industry has other optimization solutions to utilize. The current trend towards streamlining will have to continue. Most modern trucks — most dramatically, the International Lonestar — present a much more streamlined profile than the traditional “two boxes” design. Streamlining has been shown to be as, if not more, effective at saving fuel as hybrid engines.
As it did with cars, it is expected the new CAFE rules will kick-start a revolution in vehicle design.
Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • www.FoleyServices.com • Vol. 111, No. 699 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011