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Fuel Economy, CO2 Requirements Won't Add Cost, Suppliers Say

March 7, 2011

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The federal government's planned requirements for minimum fuel economy and limited carbon dioxide emissions will add little or no cost to trucks built starting in 2014 while saving money for buyers, industry consultants said during an opening session of the Green Truck Summit in Indianapolis Monday.


Fuel economy and CO2 standards for 2014 will require only existing products, including aerodynamics and lighter-weight components, while those for 2017 might likewise need no breakthrough technologies, said John Boesel, president and CEO of CalStart, a consultancy and advocacy group in Pasadena, Calif., and Doyle Sumrall, business development manager for the National Truck Equipment Association in Farmington Hills, Mich.

However, "2017 is a long way away," and what exactly will be needed to meet the second and tougher round of limits won't be known for a while, Boesel said.

NTEA and CalStart are hosting the Green Truck Summit, which focuses on hybrid, alternative-fuel, electric and high-efficiency diesel trucks. It precedes the opening of the NTEA's annual Work Truck Show, which starting Tuesday will showcase mostly light- and medium-duty trucks outfitted for construction, equipment service and road maintenance applications. The Summit's initial sessions drew an audience of several hundred at the Indianapolis Convention Center.

The economy and CO2 standards, now being finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are complementary because cutting fuel use also reduces production of CO2.

The standards will require minimum ton-mile economy averages for on-highway and vocational trucks, these and other speakers explained. The rules will save fuel and help cleanse the air, which are complementary goals of business people and environmentalists.

NHTSA Chief Gives Keynote

Because the rules won't be finalized until this July, NHTSA's chief, David Strickland, said he couldn't offer any "specificity," but said they will help meet the Obama administration's goals of a "cleaner, safer future." Strickland was the summit's keynote speaker.

President Obama recognizes the importance of the trucking industry and wants to help make it more efficient, Strickland said. That's why Obama backs more use of public transit, "walkability" in cities, and other means to get cars off streets and highways. This will leave room for trucks "to keep moving."

Truck operators will also save fuel and time if the government's vehicle-to-vehicle communications initiative is implemented, Strickland continued. Signals from a vehicle involved in a crash or breakdown would be sent to those behind, allowing their drivers to seek alternate route and avoid a backup.

NHTSA continues to promote use of new technologies to increase safety, Strickland said. One is roll-stability control, which the agency estimates will cut accidents by as much as 31 percent. Electronic roll-stability control, which cuts the throttle and selectively applies brakes when sensors feel a tipover is imminent, will save 10,000 lives a year in passenger cars, and similar effects are expected if it's implemented in trucks.


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