Fuel Smarts

House Amendment Would Protect Glider Kits from GHG Rules

July 14, 2015

By Tom Berg

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Rep. Diane Black (far left) and State Rep. Kelly Keisling (far right) tour Fitzgerald Glider Kits' plant in Jamestown, Tenn., in May. Robert Fitzgerald (background-left) and Tommy Fitzgerald Jr. (foreground-center), head the company.  Photo courtesy Rep. Diane Black's office.
Rep. Diane Black (far left) and State Rep. Kelly Keisling (far right) tour Fitzgerald Glider Kits' plant in Jamestown, Tenn., in May. Robert Fitzgerald (background-left) and Tommy Fitzgerald Jr. (foreground-center), head the company.  Photo courtesy Rep. Diane Black's office.

The House of Representatives has approved an amendment that would temporarily protect glider kits as they are now assembled and sold, says Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who sponsored the measure "to protect Tennessee workers and small manufacturing businesses from the EPA’s latest overreach."

The amendment to an appropriations bill would prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using fiscal-year 2016 funds to enforce new restrictions on gliders, which EPA proposes under the Phase 2 greenhouse-gas and fuel-economy proposals unveiled in June

Black represents an east Tennessee district where Fitzgerald Glider Kits, a major assembler of the vehicles, has plants. In her speech on the House floor, she said she toured the company’s plant and understands their financial advantages. 

“Since a glider kit is less expensive than buying a new truck, and can extend the working life of a truck, businesses and drivers with a damaged or older vehicle may choose to purchase one of these kits instead of buying a completely new vehicle,” she said. “Unfortunately, the EPA is proposing to apply the new Phase 2 standards to glider kits, even though gliders are not really new vehicles.

“Mister Speaker, this directly impacts my district where we have glider kits being manufactured and purchased by companies in places like Byrdstown, Sparta, and Jamestown – communities that are already struggling with above-average unemployment and would see job opportunities put further out of reach if this misguided rule goes into effect.

“It is also unclear whether the EPA even has the authority to regulate replacement parts like gliders in the first place,” she said. “What’s more, while the EPA’s stated goal with Phase 2 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the agency has not studied the emissions impact of remanufactured engines and gliders compared to new vehicles.”

EPA wants gliders to use diesels that meet current emissions limits, so they could no longer be powered with older engines, explained Ben Sharpe, a senior researcher with the International Council for Clean Transportation, which has analyzed the Phase 2 proposals. There is an exception for companies that each assemble fewer than 300 glider kits per year. Fitzgerald makes more than four times that number. 

“Under this ill-advised rule, businesses and drivers that wish to use glider kits would be effectively forced to buy a completely new vehicle instead,” Rep. Black told her House colleagues. “Reducing glider sales would also end up limiting consumer choice in the marketplace.

“To be clear, this amendment would not bar the EPA from implementing the whole Phase 2 rule for medium and heavy-duty trucks. It would simply clarify that glider kits and glider vehicles are not new trucks as the EPA wrongly claims.”

As with any amendment, this one is a long way from becoming law, said Laura Perrotta, senior director of legislative affairs for the American Truck Dealers and its parent, the National Automobile Dealers Association. 

“The amendment would have many hurdles to overcome to get into law,” she explained. “It would have to get into a Senate companion bill. If it doesn’t, toward the end of the [congressional] term it might go into an omnibus bill, where it and many other [amendments] stand a chance of being stripped out.

“Even if it did become law, it only has a one-year term, so would have to be reauthorized every year.”

EPA has grown concerned that glider kits are being bought by truckers who want to avoid compliance with stringent exhaust-emissions limits, not just replace wrecked, worn- or rusted-out trucks as they were originally designed. They can legally buy gliders by securing titles and other documents that prove a glider – a new truck without most powertrain components – is replacing an older truck whose diesel and other parts are installed in the new vehicle. 

Most gliders use diesels originally manufactured in the 1999-2002 period when emissions limits were relatively easy to meet, and before expensive exhaust gas recirculation and exhaust aftertreatment equipment came into use.

Other glider kits are sold with dual-fuel conversions so the engines burn lower-cost natural gas with diesel fuel, and their emissions are cleaner than straight diesel engines.

Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner division offers many of its current and past models as glider kits, and will install remanufactured diesels for customers who want them that way. Fitzgerald uses mostly Freightliner kits, along with some from Kenworth and Peterbilt, and planned to produce 1,400 last year.

Dealers, independent shops and some trucking fleets also assemble gliders, which have grown in popularity partly because they cost at least 25% less than a comparable all-new truck.

Related: The Return of the Glider (2013)

Comments

  1. 1. Kenny Scott [ July 15, 2015 @ 06:15AM ]

    They are popular because of the absolute junk that Pacar,cummins and Detroit are putting on their engines for after treatment and the problems of getting it worked on. I just sold my 012 W900 because of those reasons and are going to buy a glider ,the savings alone will be at lease $12000 net dollars in operating costs alone.

  2. 2. Charlie V. Smith [ July 16, 2015 @ 06:55AM ]

    Kenny, you understand that the "junk" that Paccar and Cummins and Detroit HAVE to put on their engines is because of EPA nonsense regulations. They have given the industry a moving target to hit - that is why CAT flipped them the cattail and said "No More" - it isn't that these companies are building bad engines - they are desperately trying to meet the guidelines that a bunch of clowns in Washington enacted with no regulatory right to do so.

  3. 3. Bret [ December 01, 2016 @ 07:21PM ]

    It is not EPA nonsense. The regulations are in place to protect the millions of people who live and work around the roads these dirty trucks run on. It is there to protect the people. I wish I can say I was sorry you have to finally meet air standards by putting all this "junk" on your truck, but I am not. These regulations make sense and are definitely needed. If you don't want to meet the requirements, get out of the business.

 

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