EPA Announces Heavy Duty Truck Economy Standards
Phase-In Starts MY 2018, Full Implementation by 2027
Like them or not, government regulations have become an ingrained part of the automotive landscape, affecting everything from styling, safety features, materials and powertrain technology. For decades, most of the focus was on light-duty vehicles. However, within the last decade, heavy-duty and commercial vehicles have come under heavier scrutiny for their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. The initiative kicked off in 2007 with tougher emissions standards for heavy trucks, and the introduction of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel. This week, the regulations for heavy trucks kick into high gear, which will affect 2018 and later models, with a step-up in requirements in 2021 and 2024, and full implementation and compliance required by 2027.
The standards fall hardest on Class 7 and 8 trucks, which include “big rig” semi trucks and tractor trailer combinations. However, the standards will also affect pickups with a GVWR more than 8,500 pounds, such as the Ford Super Duty and GM and Ram HD models. The regulations are being framed as technology-agnostic by the EPA, with the agency saying it expects some of the technologies used to meet the standards could include wider implementation of automatic stop-start and powertrain hybridization; however, these technologies are not mandated per se. Additional factors factored into the standards are whether a vehicle has four-wheel drive, payload and towing capacity. The four categories of vehicles covered by the new regulations are Combination Tractors, Trailers Pulled by Combination Tractors, Heavy Duty Pickup Trucks and Vans, and Vocational Vehicles, which include buses, garbage trucks, and concrete mixers, among others.
Officially, most business and industry organizations have expressed support for the new rules, including the Diesel Technology Forum, which reiterated the importance of diesel technology in meeting the new standards and its belief that diesel will continue to be predominant power source for commercial and heavy vehicles in the years ahead. One notable exception is the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association. The organization stated that a forced standard doesn’t benefit the industry if there is little demand for the new technologies that require additional maintenance, placing a further burden on small business truckers. If you have nothing but time on your hands, you can read all 1,690 pages of the new regulations for yourself here.