New Greenhouse Gas Regs: Fuel Savings and New Technologies

The year 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in the ongoing technological battle to improve fuel savings. In addition to being the year Ford and other major automakers have set to put new driverless vehicles on the road, it’s also going to see the formal debut of the federal greenhouse gas “Phase 2” regulations.

The new measures, drafted in response to President Obama’s directive in 2014, will finalize emission and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles through the next decade.

Simply put, the goal is significant GHG emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements across all major vehicle types. Tractors in a tractor-trailer combination are expected to achieve up to 25 percent lower carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption in 2027 than an equivalent tractor in 2018.

$170 Billion in Fuel Savings

If everything goes according to plan, they should lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons and save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion. On top of that savings, oil consumption is expected to fall by up to 2 billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.  Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society and public health, according to EPA and NHTSA.

The final rule has more ambitious efficiency goals than the earlier version unveiled last year, but a phased-in approach should help prevent sticker shock, experts say. There seems to be less fear now that fleet owners will be forced to try unverified technologies. In fact, some experts maintain that the new regulations will save retail consumers money (think lower Amazon shipping costs) and spur growth in new American industries specializing in fuel saving technologies like the Rentar Fuel Catalyst.

Fuel is the largest single cost for trucking fleets. It’s also a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Fleetowner.com reports that trucking OEM (original equipment manufacturers), fleet owners, suppliers and trade groups all seem “cautiously optimistic” about eventual compliance with the new regulations.

The good news, says Glen Kedzie, vice president and energy and environmental counsel for the American Trucking Associations (ATA) trade group, is that the regulations seem to mesh with the huge diversity of equipment, operations and new technologies that the trucking sector has embraced over the last few decades. Fuel catalysts, GPS, and other emerging technologies have already been implemented in many fleets across the country, resulting in dramatic fuel savings.

“We are pleased that our concerns such as adequate lead-time for technology development, national harmonization of standards, and flexibility for manufacturers have been heard and included in the final rule,” Kedzie said in a statement reported by Fleetowner.com.

“While efficiency milestones for vehicles, engines and trailers have all been slightly increased over the agencies’ initial proposal, we are encouraged that they addressed several important issues in the final rule including undertaking annual rule assessments, not accelerating compliance timelines from those originally proposed and refining emissions modeling based on industry data,” Kedzie added.

The Consumer Savings: $1,100 Per Family

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA), reports that the average American family spends more than $1,100 per year on indirect freight truck fuel costs passed on to consumers.

“That’s almost as much as the average family spends on household electricity,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s director of public affairs and vehicle expert, in a statement.

“These standards will save consumers money, just as other energy efficiency goals have saved families and businesses money on the total cost of owning and operating cars, light-duty trucks, and home appliances such as refrigerators and water heaters.”

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