Volvo Trucks Raises GHG Phase 2 Alert

May 18, 2015

By David Cullen

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Göran Nyberg, Volvo Truck North America president, is concerned that the upcoming Phase 2 round of GHG regulations could push back hard against the advance of truck technology.

“The industry is still suffering technology fatigue from all the ‘add-ons’ that were needed to meet earlier emission rules,” Nyberg said in speaking with the media over the weekend during the latest Volvo Ocean Race stopover.

Referring to the key unknown of the proposed Phase 2 GHG rule – that despite putting forward more stringent limits, it might require that both a total vehicle performance “assessment” and a separate engine “standard” be met for compliance – Nyberg argued that common sense should prevail as the rulemaking process proceeds.

“We need to be able to design equipment in the best way to meet regulations, but without having to add too much complexity,” he explained. Volvo would prefer to meet the new regulation “without being tied to an engine standard that would not take into account how different trucks actually operate.

“There is a difference between optimizing an engine [to meet a standard] running in a test cell vs. what will really work in all [truck] applications in different operating conditions,” he continued. “Those involved [in the rulemaking] must see the wider picture of what we will be dealing with as manufacturers.”

Nyberg pointed out that today, compared to 20 years ago when earlier emission rules were rolling out, “each fuel-efficient solution, such as aerodynamics, has to work for specific vehicles designed for specific applications.”

That's why Volvo contends that GHG rules with single, total-vehicle requirements make the most sense, in terms of environmental compliance and cost feasibility.

Speaking at the Rhode Island event during a symposium for Volvo customers and dealers, Susan Alt, senior vice president of public affairs, noted that, for the OEM, meeting the Phase 1 GHG rules— which at include a requirement that 2017 engines meet a 6% fuel-efficiency improvement threshold—was “not a big deal.”

As for why Phase 2 could be so onerous to deal with, Tony Greszler, vice president of government and industry relations, pointed out that environmental groups “pushed the agencies to increase its stringency and extend the rule out to 2027.” He said if the final rule’s GHG limits are too stringent, “it could force technology on the market before it’s ready. The result, he said, might be the kind of truck pre-buying that plagued the industry with the onset of the 2007 EPA engine-emission rules.

Greszler advised that to meet a separate engine standard within the tighter Phase 2 limits might require adding on such technology as waste-heat recovery. “WHR componentry would have to be added in addition to existing engine hardware and chassis equipment,” he explained, “that would impact overall vehicle efficiency.

He said incorporating WHR would decrease fuel efficiency because:

  • More components would have to be packaged on the frame rails. That would increase the tractor-trailer gap, reducing the positive effect of aerodynamics.
  • A new, less-aerodynamic hood design would be needed, which would cause a “severe loss of fuel efficiency.”
  • The increased cooling capacity needed would result in more than a 1% fuel-efficiency loss for the vehicle.

Alt and Greszler advised the audience that depending on how the rulemaking is drafted,  Volvo “may ask you to get involved” in helping to head off a separate engine standard by stating industry opposition to “a [GHG] target that will force technology before it has been fully tested and is commercially feasible” via emails to EPA and NHTSA, the agencies jointly promulgating the GHG rules.

“If reason does not prevail,” Greszler warned, “Phase 2 could force a mandate on the industry for increase engine efficiency that actually reduces total vehicle efficiency.

"Truck design,” he added, “should meet customers’ specific applications, not government’s regulation.”


  1. 1. João Reis Simões [ May 19, 2015 @ 03:38AM ]

    Total fuel consumption and emissions depend on many factors. Of course engine efficiency is one and certainly very important but surely the most expensive to enhance. The correct specification of the vehicle before the acquisition is fundamental as, generally, an OEM offers two engines, two gear boxes and 5 rear axle ratios and so 20 different vehicles in its propulsion dynamics. Each of those 20 vehicles is suitable for a specific service. Furthermore preventive maintenance plan is of great importance so as to retard degradation that provokes increased fuel consumption. A third area of concern is the way the vehicles are chosen for each service that has to be done, involving decisions on the load factor – in my opinion the most important factor that influences fuel consumption – the route, the average speed to achieve a suitable time of the journey. The last factor is the driver´s style, mainly the dispersion of speed related to the average. Drivers must be educated, in a regular basis, to reach better performance.
    As a conclusion much of the work is to be done inside the Operators. But, are the managers aware of all the factors that influence fuel consumption and so the profitability of the company? In Europe the Operators that consume per year more than a certain amount of fuel are obliged to make energy audits, every three or four years, that support a plan of rational use of energy that must have a target for the fuel efficiency expressed in gep /
    My 2014 book “Technical management of road fleets” treats this subject.

  2. 2. Steve "Bear" Nadolson [ May 19, 2015 @ 05:37AM ]

    Engineers have yet to perfect the last round of EPA mandated requirements. Technological advancements, in a free market, are driven by demand, tested, and then rolled out to meet the demand that has been generated by the benefits to the user.

    When an artificially created demand (mandates) drive a market due to questionable time deadlines, we get the chaos and less than desirable outcomes as exhibited by the problems that have crippled the performance of engines in our industry for years.

    As an industry we haven't solved all the problems of past mandates and will be faced with a whole new set of problems to overcome very soon.

    The cost of trucks have gone up at an alarming rate, performance problems have made engines unreliable in many applications, and the dealers, users, and consumers are paying the price. This has had a devastating impact on the economy.

    While I believe that the there are certainly benefits to the environment from many of the changes, I question the timing and the forced implementation of the implementation.

  3. 3. Joe R. [ May 19, 2015 @ 07:41AM ]

    I attended a CARB GHG symposium a few weeks ago. Both CARB officials and the head of a consortium of northeastern states said if phase II did not include an engine NOx standard of .02, they'd work to create a California standard to be adopted by northeastern states. EPA officials did not attend this symposium in person but watched via web-link. Gotta figure they got the message, come out with an aggressive national standard in phase II or get trumped by CARB.

  4. 4. Wayne Schulz [ May 19, 2016 @ 04:46PM ]

    I think that the agencies and stakeholders involved believe that Freight Efficiency equation is simply a weight vs. amount of fuel used per mile.

    In reality, the Freight Efficiency equation should be finding the lowest cost to carry the amount of weight over a certain distance and time frame. All operational factors such as fuel, vehicle expense, wages, license and fees and so on are calculated in the operational cost. This may lead to a better determination of vehicle size and shaper for a particular commodity and route. For example, line haul tractors using "turnpike doubles" may be more efficient than single trailers on relatively long, straight and level routes, but not appropriate for other routes. Once that is determined, Federal and State laws need to be revised so configurations like this can be used broadly for the good of all concerned. This process of trying to improve overall efficiency of moving freight can then make some progress and maybe advances in technology can be implemented over time.


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