Having high fuel efficiency in a vehicle is a
great thing for the driver because they can spend less on fuel. Having higher
fuel economy on vehicles across the automotive market will reduce the need to
import foreign oil and will help to reduce overall pollution as well. The big
downside is that the cost of the tech to improve fuel economy is not cheap and
that cost will be passed onto the car buyer.
The Obama administration today outlined its Heavy-Duty
National Program [PDF] fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles like semis,
concrete trucks, dump trucks, and other heavy work trucks. Rather than
targeting a specific mile per gallon rating for the heavy-duty vehicles – like what has been proposed for passenger vehicles -- Obama is going to target a percentage
of fuel savings.
The reason for this significant difference in fuel
savings is according to the administration imposing a MPG standard on this sort
of vehicle would be very confusing considering that the range of categories is
wide and the payload and duties in the segment vary widely.
The administration wants a 9% saving in fuel
consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for work trucks (fire trucks, garbage
trucks, and busses, etc.). Gasoline swilling heavy-duty trucks and vans will
need to see a reduction of 10% with diesel versions needing to see a 15%
savings. Big rigs have the most stringent cuts at up to 23%.
regulatory announcement also makes the following claims with regards to
recouping the added cost associated with adopting more fuel efficient
Using technologies commercially available today, the majority of
vehicles will see a payback period of less than one year, while others,
especially those with lower annual miles, will experience payback periods of up
to two years. For example, an operator of a semi truck can pay for the
technology upgrades in under a year, and have net savings up to $73,000 over
the truck’s useful life.
The new standards will apply to covered vehicles
in the 2014 to 2018 range. The hope is to cut 530 million barrels of oil
consumption and $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the vehicles with
the new standards in place.
The cost to meet the new standards on the
varying vehicle types are expected to be in the range of hundreds of dollars to
thousands of dollars per vehicle.