Fuel Smarts

Obama Starts Next Truck Fuel Economy Rule

February 19, 2014

By Oliver Patton

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks on improving the fuel efficiency of American trucks, at the Safeway Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House photo by Amanda Lucidon)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks on improving the fuel efficiency of American trucks, at the Safeway Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Md., Feb. 18, 2014. (Official White House photo by Amanda Lucidon)
UPDATED -- President Obama pushed the start button on the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty fuel economy standards.

He told the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to propose a rule by March 2015, and finish the rule by March 2016.

The president announced the move Tuesday at a Safeway Distribution Center in Upper Marlboro, Md.

The first round of greenhouse gas emission rules, posted in 2011, set standards for model years 2014 through 2018. It focused on efficiencies obtained by refinements to tractors and engines. This next round of rules is likely to be more ambitious.

According to the White House announcement EPA and NHTSA will assess engine and powertrain improvements, aerodynamics, weight reduction, improved tires, automatic engine shutdown and improving accessories such as water pumps and fans, as well as hybrid technologies.

The fact sheet does not mention it, but EPA has indicated that it will look at trailers as well as power equipment.

Trailer aerodynamics can be an important factor in fuel efficiency but EPA and NHTSA stayed away from the subject in the first rule. They cited the complexity of trying to regulate equipment that is so often interchanged with varied power units, and a lack of familiarity with that market.

Last June Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said that trailers will be on the agency’s agenda for this round of rulemaking.

The White House said EPA and NHTSA will work with manufacturers, the trucking industry and other stakeholders, including the California Air Resources Board, to develop the new rule.

In his prepared remarks Obama mentioned the National Clean Fleets Partnership program, which promotes alternative fuels, and EPA SmartWay. He cited Con-way, a 2013 SmartWay excellence award winner, for equipping all of its power equipment and almost half of its trailers with SmartWay certified technologies.

The White House release also discusses the SuperTruck program, which aims to show that the freight-hauling efficiency of heavy-duty trucks can be increased by 50%.

It says that under the program the Department of Energy has worked with Cummins, Volvo, Navistar and Daimler Trucks North America to increase fuel economy from about 6.5 mpg to about 9.75 mpg.

“Since 2010, SuperTruck partners Cummins and PACCAR’s Peterbilt Motors Company have demonstrated a 20% increase in engine efficiency, reaching over 10 miles per gallon under real world driving conditions on a Class8 tractor-trailer,” the release says.

It says Cummins, Volvo, Navistar and Daimler have either achieved or are close to a 50% fuel economy increase through aerodynamics and engine efficiencies.

Obama also is calling on Congress to establish an Energy Security Trust Fund to pay for research and development of advanced vehicle technologies.

Heavy trucks are a likely target for fuel efficiency and clean-air gains. In 2010, they represented 4% of registered vehicles but produced 25% of highway fuel use and emissions, the White House said. They are the second largest source of transportation emissions after cars.

The first efficiency rule is projected to save $50 billion and 530 million barrels of oil over the lifetimes of the affected vehicles.

“For example,” the White House said, “an operator of a new 2018 semi truck could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize a net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.”

Positive Industry Reaction

Trucking interests responded positively.

The Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group, an alliance of carriers and manufacturers, said the move is an important step.

“Finalizing new fuel efficiency standards for medium and heavy duty trucks will be an important milestone that should result in significant benefits to our economy, the trucking industry and the environment,” said Douglas W. Stotlar, president and CEO of Con-way Inc.

Con-way is a member of the group along with Cummins, Eaton, FedEx Corp., Wabash National and Waste Management.

Stotlar said the initiative shows meaningful progress between government and industry.

“This collaborative approach will result in realistic, achievable goals and an effective regulatory framework to improve fuel efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” he said in a statement.

Dick Giromini, president and chief executive officer of Wabash National Corporation, applauded the probable inclusion of trailers in the new standard.

“Wabash National has been a leader in the development of aerodynamic and other fuel efficiency technology on trailers for nearly a decade,” Giromini said. 

“We look forward to working with the EPA and the Department of Transportation, as well as our customers and industry partners, to achieve new standards that result in greater fuel efficiency and environmental benefits in the years ahead.”

The group posted a set of principles it says should guide the rulemaking. Among them is a call to make sure that the program avoids conflicts and inconsistencies among the regulatory agencies, EPA, NHTSA and CARB.

Also, the rule should not restrict fleet choices on product specifications, it should build on the testing protocols established in the first rule and it should provide enough lead time for suppliers to develop the necessary technology.

The principles also say that trailers should be included, that credits to promote early adoption should be retained and that other incentives such as accelerated depreciation, greater highway investment and new size and weight rules should be considered.

American Trucking Associations said it supports the current rule and wants better fuel efficiency but the administration should be careful about setting new standards.

“Trucking is a very diverse industry,” said ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president of Bulldog Hiway Express, Charleston, S.C. “Whatever standards the administration sets should reflect that diversity and whatever tests are devised should accurately reflect what drivers face on the roads every day.”

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said the new rule should not conflict with other environmental or safety rules, or force technologies that are not ready.

Update adds reaction from the Heavy Duty Fuel Efficiency Leadership Group and ATA.


  1. 1. jimmie buster sr retired [ February 19, 2014 @ 04:40AM ]

    this fine their needs too be away too stop big oil from raising fuel prices too cover the fuel not being used because there not going too be happy Koch will buy moe congress and sentors

  2. 2. Mike Chewning [ February 19, 2014 @ 06:19AM ]

    I have been in the trucking industry 35 years and have already seen 50-60% increases in fuel economy that were industry driven.Why do we need a government mandate now?

  3. 3. Jeff Drury [ February 19, 2014 @ 07:52AM ]

    Our MPG is up, that's good. Price of trucks up,by 10-12K per copy over pre- mandate equipment. We have also seen a 51% increase in OTR repairs for post mandate things like egr vallves, coolers, sensor failures, regen issues. We run Navistars, Petes, and Volvos, they are all the same having the same issues. I think the folks in Washington and CA need consider allowing the industry to do more R&D without the mandates. We also run the Smart Truck tech. on our trailers as well as various skirts which add weight to the T T combinations. OH Yes, did i mention we are a Smart way carrier and believe in it but there comes a point when enough is enough we can't run our company like they run the government.

  4. 4. George G. [ February 19, 2014 @ 10:51AM ]

    Everyone forgets the most important factor of all, for improvement of fuel efficiency: The driver! If the driver does not have the proper education and understanding, the truck's fuel economy is reduced at least 30 percent. Driver education is the cheapest solution to fuel efficiency.

  5. 5. Scott [ February 19, 2014 @ 11:39AM ]

    Every owner-operator and large fleet wants better furl economy, but increased regulation is not the answer

  6. 6. Junk [ February 19, 2014 @ 08:33PM ]

    @George G
    most important factor is weather/wind direction, then terrain and how heavy load is, speed

  7. 7. Terrance [ February 23, 2014 @ 05:14AM ]

    I am in truck driving school and looking for a list of top paying companies that pay extremely well. I have come up with a list of three but need more that have a structured system (very organized). Below are three companies that I have found that pay well and they are listed below following:


    With this in mind, I am looking for companies that are paying at least $46,000 or a very high mileage, great trainers, and great opportunities for upward mobility into other company positions as well as benefits. I am need at least 7 other highly recommended trucking companies that are great for students starting their trucking careers. Lastly, I have obtained my tanker and HAZMAT endorsements.

    Thanks in advance and please email me back concerning my inquiries.


  8. 8. S.A. BRYANT [ March 01, 2014 @ 09:19AM ]

    There is technology available to increase fuel mileage today that will improve diesel engine mileage.
    I have over 40+ years with diesel engines and selling of heavy trucks.
    Aerodynamics has been a great improvement. It's not the only tech. that works.

  9. 9. haller [ March 01, 2014 @ 10:58AM ]

    Terrance, drive for a company that has a UNION.

  10. 10. Peter Crunk - HHO Gas T [ April 26, 2014 @ 12:39PM ]

    There is not one person anywhere in this country that is free from the utility company bondage. Looking for financial sponsors or investors to participate in any way to bring this product to market.
    This will change the way we heat our homes and our transportation we use every day will be changed. Multi Fuel 7000 Watt Generator Natural Gas Hexane Gasoline Vapors HHO Gas 4-24-2014 . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dwYxLF2JuU

    Peter Crunk
    HHO Gas Technology LLC.
    16748 Helen St.
    Southgate, Michigan 48195
    E-Mail: [email protected]
    Business: 313 355-6193
    Home: 313 291-0108
    Cell: 313 623-1178


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