Finally, a regulation that gives something back. Sometime between now and Jan. 1, 2014, all new heavy-duty trucks coming into service will be certified to a new fuel efficiency standard. Compliance rests with the truck maker, and the customer sees the benefit. So, what's the catch?

In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced joint greenhouse gas emissions standards and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles, applicable to model-year 2014 vehicles and engines. Depending on your OE, you may already be driving or buying GHG-2014-certified trucks.

The rule seeks incremental improvements in fuel efficiency and reduced carbon dioxide emissions, which are essentially the same thing. Truck and engine manufacturers are required to offer a menu of fuel-efficient options for vehicles and to demonstrate that engines certified for GHG-14 burn less fuel in a specified test cycle than previous engine generations. Customers will be able to choose options that suit their needs, and ignore those that don't.

"There's flexibility in the regulation so customers can still pick and choose the technology they want," says Courtney Guzlas, chief engineer - greenhouse gas at Navistar.

"The EPA allows averaging. Not every truck has to be compliant, but every truck has to be certified, and that really turns into compliance. It's up to the OEM to ensure they have enough adoption of those technologies across their fleet."

The implementation dates for the regulation are a little confusing. Officially, all heavy-duty trucks and engines must comply by Jan. 1, 2014. But the regs are hitched to engine- and model-year dates, and they vary with the OEM. Typically, new model-year trucks appear in the spring, so we can expect to see MY-2014 trucks rolling onto dealer lots sometime in the first three months of 2013. Those trucks will be compliant with the new rules.

Engine-model-year dates can vary too, so we'll see various OEs announce compliant engines on different dates.

"There are provisions to allow an OEM to implement the GHG provisions as soon as model year 2014 begins for engines or vehicles," says Todd Acker, director of marketing at Peterbilt. "There is also an early adoption allowance for MY-2013 engines and vehides if the OEM wishes to start building GHG credits early. For implementation ahead of Jan. 1, 2014, OEMs can choose to start the GHG rules for either tractors, or vocational vehicles, or both."

Essentially, the rules are based on corporate average fuel economy and tailpipe emissions standards across each OE s portfolio. Truck makers will earn credit on the "good" trucks they sell, and they'll use those credits to offset the "bad" trucks they sell. Customers will still have the option of spec'ing trucks to suit their needs, even if they are not on the A-list of approved specs.

If that's not confusing enough, we also have the engine regs and the vehicle regs. They are exclusive, but will be combined to meet the standard.

The engine side

Probably the simplest part of the new regulation to understand is that the rules require the engine manufacturer to certify the engine to a certain emission standard for CO2, measured in grams per ton-mile.

The test procedure involves running the engine in a test cell and measuring CO2 output over a variety of conditions and cycles. A few calculations are done after the fact, and voila, the OE has a CO2 rating. Even with the variety of operating conditions engines will see once they are in service, it's the measurement derived from the prescribed test cycle that counts.

"Certificate of conformity based on test results is issued at the beginning of the year," explains Sean Waters, Daimler Trucks North America's director of product compliance and regulatory affairs. "That applies throughout the year or until there's another test showing better results."

Various engine makers will take different approaches to meeting that standard, but we have no reports of any major engine modifications being required to meet the standard.

Programmable engine settings such as idle-time limiters and vehicle speed limiters, etc. are considered part of the vehicle side of the requirements, and are not calculated as part of the engine CO2 certification.

The vehicle side

With so many spec'ing options available and so many intended applications for in-service trucks, it would have been next to impossible to attach a rating to individual trucks. So the rules allow truck makers to average their fuel efficiency improvements over the entire fleet of trucks they sell in the course of a year, including long-haul aerodynamic freight haulers, day-cab regional trucks, stripped-down chassis for bulk fuel deliveries and even dump trucks and concrete mixers - the latter two falling into a separate category.

Customers won't be penalized if their spec does not meet the EPA's ideal, but the truck maker will have to account for the odd trucks in their annual average.

"The flexibility in the regulations allows customers a wide range of options," says Guzlas. "With tires, for example, there's already a wide adoption of both low-rolling-resistance dual tires and wide-base single tires. Both are high on the list of EPA's preferred spec'ing choices, but if there are applications where those choices won't work for a customer, we won't push the customer in that direction."

Earlier in this process, each truck manufacturer submitted results of coast-down tests to the EPA to determine a baseline for each truck category. From those baseline models, various enhancements can be added - or removed in some cases - to improve fuel efficiency. Each category, such as the weight of the vehicle, chassis fairings, idle timers, vehicle speed limiters, single tires, etc., carry a calculated point value, and trucks sold with or without the various options earn or cost the truck maker points toward their yearly totals.

"The OEs will be able to manage that and will have enough greenhouse gas vehicles built - I call them credit generators - that they will offset the 'credit reducers',' says Frank Bio, product manager, trucks with Volvo Trucks.

In-service vehicles

What happens if a customer wants to modify a truck once it's in service? Trucks will have a compliance label on the door indicating what GHG-reducing technologies were on the truck when it was delivered, and they will have to remain on the truck for the useful life of the vehicle.

"GHG regulations state that the vehicle must be maintained in the purchased state for GHG-reducing technologies used for compliance on a given vehicle throughout its regulatory useful life," says Judy McTigue, Kenworth director of marketing planning and research. "The useful life is 435,000 miles for Class 8 vehicles, 185,000 for Class 6 and 7, and 105,000 miles for Class 3-5."

Some options, such as idle timers and vehicle speed limiters, may be factory set for the life of the vehicle, or for a particular mileage such as the first owner's life expectancy. That presumably will offer the OE some pricing leverage, though none of the OEs we spoke with were prepared to discuss pricing strategy at this time.

"Vehicle speed limiter and automatic engine shutdown options used for GHG compliance must remain programmed the way they left the factory until the GHG expiration mileage (1,259,000 miles) has been reached, unless the customer specified a shorter expiration mileage when the vehicle was ordered," McTigue says. "This impacts tires on vocational vehicles and some or all of tires, vehicle speed limiters, automatic engine shutdown, aerodynamics and weight reduction technologies for tractors."

At least two truck makers have already certified their truck and engines for GHG-2014, and Cummins has certified its entire engine lineup.

At least two truck makers have already certified their truck and engines for GHG-2014, and Cummins has certified its entire engine lineup.

This stage of the total GHG reduction package will be the easiest to meet, and doesn't look like it will require major modifications on the truck and engine makers' part. The next round, due to hit in MY 2018, will be more stringent and may leave customers few choices. Those choices could become more expensive, too. For now, we have a rule that will give us something back: Better fuel economy.

Those already spec'ing for fuel economy may not see a big difference. Those spec'ing for specific applications where fuel efficiency isn't the top priority will still get the trucks they want.

And, barring a mass turnaround to long-and-tall chassis in the long- haul world, the truck makers still will be able to earn all the credits they need going forward.


What do greenhouse gas reductions and improved fuel economy have to do with each other?
They are one and the same thing, at the end of the day. Greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide, are byproducts from the burning of fossil fuels. Since burning a gallon of diesel or gasoline produces a given amount of CO2, by improving fuel economy, you reduce the amount of fuel consumed and CO2 produced per mile traveled.

Burning one gallon of diesel fuel produces 22.38 pounds of CO2, the scientists say.

Beware the MIL Lamp

You're going to see a lot more of that ubiquitous yellow engine-shaped icon on your dashboard. The malfunction indicator light warns of an emissions system malfunction, and you will have to deal with it.

As of Jan. 1, the final stage of the EPA's 2002, 2007 and 2010 emissions reduction mandate kicked in - on-board diagnostics.

OBD, as it is called, has been part of the emissions systems since 2002, but until 2013 there was no reporting function. That's the big change, and for the end user it's going to mean more time in the shop.

"The customer is going to see the MIL lamp come on more often," says Brad Williamson, manager of engine and component marketing for Daimler Trucks North America. "There are now 38 systems being monitored by OBD, up from about 30. Also, the frequency of the self-inspection of the system has increased, and the reporting thresholds have been tightened."

Earlier versions of OBD were required to report when the system was allowing emissions to exceed the acceptable level by a factor of five. That has been progressively ratcheted down to 2013's factor of 2.

Williamson says if there are deficiencies in the system, they are an OE issue and that they will have to address them. "But if the system reports an error, the customer still has to have it repaired."

The regulation has forced truck makers to open up their diagnostic information to third parties so other, non-OE facilities can service the emissions system faults.

"If one of our trucks goes into a third-party location, they can service the vehicle," says Frank Bio, product manager, trucks with Volvo Trucks. "That opens up more service opportunities to the customer. But we're only providing enough information to do the emissions part of the requirement."

In 2010, OEs used a proprietary protocol to track and monitor all that information. For 2013, we now have an industry-standard J-1939 reporting function. All the system fault codes and all the performance criteria on the emissions system are stored in the OBD memory, and it cannot be erased.

In some cases, faults could trigger the light to come on, but the system could self-heal, like in the case with a cold-temperature start-up with the DEF frozen, says Navistar spokesman Steve Schrier. "The light would go out after the fault was resolved, but the event would remain in the memory."

As far as diagnosing an emissions system fault code is concerned, if the light comes on, you're heading for the shop.

"The only two lights that indicate an OBD issue are the 'malfunction indicator light' and 'check engine light', but they won't give any indication of what the issue is," says Williamson.

There is a provision in OBD regulations that requires certain emission-related components and software systems to have internal coding called CAL-ID/CVN, says Judy McTigue, Kenworth director of marketing planning and research. "The intention is to prevent the installation of unapproved parts or tampering with the system," she says. "If incorrect parts or software are installed, engine performance could be affected. Also, California will be checking vehicles to ensure that only OEM-approved CAL-ID/ CVN data is on a vehicle."

Remote self-diagnostics

Both Daimler and Volvo offer remote diagnostic and reporting capability. Called Virtual Technician and Remote Diagnostics, respectively, they can detect the faults and through a telematic interface transmit that information to the fleet and the OE so a service strategy can be developed.

"We can analyze what's wrong with the vehicle, and then send the truck to a nearby dealership for service, and we'll have the parts and techs ready for the truck when it gets there," says Volvo's Bio. "The dealer doesn't have to plug it in again because we already know what's wrong with it."

Daimler's Williamson says Virtual Technician will identify the problem as well as the degree of urgency for having it repaired.

"The customer is going to see more MIL events, and depending on how they handle it, it could mean more downtime, or just more lights coming on."

From the January issue of HDT magazine.