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Obama Projects $50 Billion in Savings from First-Ever Fuel Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles
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August 09, 2011

Obama Projects $50 Billion in Savings from First-Ever Fuel Standards for Heavy Duty Vehicles

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

Less than a month after proposing new corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards to cover cars and light trucks for model years 2017 through 2025 – requiring performance equivalent to 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) in 2025 – the U.S. Obama Administration rolled out new fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas pollution standards for work trucks, buses, and other heavy-duty vehicles on August 9 at the White House.

The tiered standards are expected to yield an estimated $50 billion in net benefits over the life of model year 2014 to 2018 vehicles, and to result in significant long-terms savings for vehicle owners and operators.

President Obama, along with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had worked closely with truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the State of California, and environmental groups – among them, Navistar, Volvo, Chrysler, and Con-way –  to gain support for the new standards, officials said.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Obama.  “We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks.  They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks.  And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”

The joint DOT/EPA program will include a range of targets that are specific to diverse vehicle types and purposes.  Vehicles are divided into three major categories:

  • Combination tractors (big rigs or semi-trucks) will be required to achieve approximately 20 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving up to 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 miles traveled;
  • Gasoline- or diesel-powered heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans will be required to achieve up to approximately 15 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by model year 2018, saving about one gallon of fuel for r every 100 miles traveled; and
  • Vocational vehicles (such as transit buses, delivery trucks, and garbage trucks) will be required to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions  by approximately 10 percent by model year 2018, also saving about one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled.

“Beyond the direct benefits to businesses that own and operate these vehicles, the program will also benefit consumers and businesses by reducing costs for transporting goods, and spur growth in the clean energy se,” the Administration announced.

The White House estimated that a semi-truck operator could pay for the technology upgrades in under a year and realize net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over the truck’s useful life.  These cost saving standards will also reduce emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter, which can lead to asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

“Thanks to the Obama Administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.   “These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector, and promote energy independence for America.”

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Cheryl Kaften is an accomplished communicator who has written for consumer and corporate audiences. She has worked extensively for MasterCard (News - Alert) Worldwide, Philip Morris USA (Altria), and KPMG, and has consulted for Estee Lauder and the Philadelphia Inquirer Newspapers. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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