To the everyday citizen walking down the street, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas rules are seen as simply a way to clean up the atmosphere. But when you look at it from a technical standpoint, it’s much more than that, and fleets are still sifting through 1,700 pages of the latest greenhouse gas (GHG) plans to understand where they stand, and where they need to be. According to the EPA, the recently released GHG Phase 2 rules will promote a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks, encourage the wider application of currently available technologies, and advance the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year (MY) 2027. While the message is positive, many fleets will need a greater understanding of how the rules affect, and benefit, their operations.

Starting with MY 2021, Class 7 and 8 trucks will see a 16% fuel efficiency improvement by the end of the phase in 2027, as well as reducing fuel consumption by up to 5% for tractor engines, and as much as 4% for vocational engines, as compared to Phase 1. Overall, the standards aim to reduce GHG emissions by 25% over the Phase 1 rules. On the heels of current diesel emissions faux pas experienced by more than one vehicle manufacturer, the new regs will also include improved testing procedures, heightened enforcement audits, and greater defense against devices programmed to circumvent the rules. Add to that stricter diesel engine standards, a vocational vehicle program that was tailored to match the right technology for the job, and the ability for manufacturers to customize their mix of applied technologies, and you can see why it is important to get a headstart on the upcoming changes.

But where do the requirements end and the costs begin? According to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), 2017-model equipment has already been introduced that will get 2-7% better fuel economy with long-haul on-highway tractors. But, as with Phase 1, prices for upcoming vehicles will see a noticeable jump:

  • 2021: $6,400-$6,480 for tractors
  • 2024: $9,920-$10,100 for tractors
  • 2027: $12,160-$12,440 for tractors

The new, necessary equipment technologies will also increase maintenance costs and the need for higher technician proficiency. So, your equipment and your personnel need to be on the same page and have a better understanding of each other.

The higher equipment costs will have the most immediate effect on fleets, adding more to their already strained budgets. In turn, managers need to find alternative ways in which to save money. For some, renewable fuels may be — and for some, have been — an option to cut both emissions and costs. For example, renewable diesel starts out by improving fuel economy, lowering costs, and reducing emissions. And, most importantly, no changes are needed to the engine, eliminating sometimes crippling preliminary costs. Fleets are also seeing less wear on engines and diesel particulate filter systems, leading to a significant decrease in maintenance problems.

No matter where you reside in the fleet world, GHG Phase 2 will affect you. The winners in this race to compliance will not only adhere to the rules through conventional means, but also come up with some viable, real world solutions that look beyond the big picture and into the minutiae that can save time, money and manpower.