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Study: More Fuel Efficient Trucks Benefit American Households

February 6, 2014

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Photo: Evan Lockridge
Photo: Evan Lockridge
A group representing more than 260 non-profit consumer organizations across the country is making a case in favor of continuing to increase the fuel efficiency of medium and heavy-duty trucks.

The Consumer Federation of America finds they will save the average American household $250 dollars per year in the cost of consumer goods and services, after the cost of the technologies are recovered.

“We know that the fuel costs associated with shipping goods cross country heavily impact the price of everything from a carton of milk to a pair of shoes. Strong standards that cut fuel use by nearly 50% could put $29.5 billion dollars back into the pockets of Americans,” said Dr. Mark Cooper, CFA’s director of research and author of Paying the Freight: The Consumer Benefits of Increasing the Fuel Economy of Medium and Heavy-Duty Trucks

The study examines the costs of energy used by medium and heavy-duty trucks, the potential for energy savings among these vehicles and the positive impact that their increased fuel efficiency will have on America’s households, according to the group.

It claims the new report builds on CFA’s previous work that examined how consumers would be impacted by higher fuel economy standards for passenger vehicles.

“As we found with the recently adopted 54.5 mile-per-gallon standard for light-duty cars and trucks, consumers will benefit when heavy-duty trucks go farther on a gallon of fuel,” said Cooper.

“While direct household expenditures on gasoline are significant, they are only part of what households spend on energy. Consumers also pay the cost of commercial transportation fuel in the price of the goods and services they buy. As such, reducing the energy consumption of big truck fleets will have a positive impact on household expenditures,” said Cooper.

In 2011, the federal government adopted fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks for the first time. They are taking effect this year and will be applied through 2018.

CFA says adopting more ambitious standards post-2018 would yield the savings outlined in their study. Last June the Obama administration announced it would develop new fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards for post-2018 model year trucks, following on the standards that were put in place in 2011.

The CFA report also concludes:

  • American households pay over $1100 per year due to medium and heavy-duty truck fuel costs. Without new standards, this amount is expected to grow considerably during the next two decades.
  • With standards, as fuel prices rise and transportation services increase, the potential household savings could rise to over $400 per year by 2035.
  • Because the transportation sector is very competitive, the related cost savings in fuel will be passed through to consumers.

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