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Phase 2 fuel efficiency rule published

Phase 2 has been officially published.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published Phase 2 of the truck fuel efficiency rule in late October.

Trucking industry insiders have been anticipating this move for well over a year after the Obama administration and the two agencies unveiled a set of proposals to increase fuel originally in 2015.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles – Phase 2 was subsequently finalized in August 2016. The published rule totalled a whopping 2,762 pages in the Federal Register.

With this publication, the rule will now take effect in 60 days (Dec. 27, 2016).

"The published rule totals a whopping 2,762 pages in the Federal Register."

What is the rule?

As part of the president's Climate Action Plan, the EPA and NHTSA created greenhouse emission targets through 2027. Phase II follows Phase I, which was implemented in 2011 and covered truck model years 2014 to 2018.

Phase II officially regulates four categories of commercial vehicles:

  • Combination tractors
  • Trailers used in combination with tractors
  • Vocational vehicles
  • Heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans

What are the implications?

Carbon dioxide emissions are projected to decrease by nearly 1.1 billion metric tons. Vehicle owners can expect to save around $170 billion as a result. Oil consumption will also go down, as trucks manufactured under the new rule will contribute to reducing oil usage by nearly 2 million barrels.

Put all of the new guidelines into play and the NHTSA projects Phase 2 will help the entire trucking industry save between $7.8 billion and $8.5 billion annually.

It's no secret there were many debates, questions and concerns over this rule. According to Fleet Owner, nearly 230,000 public comments were made after the rule was initially unveiled a few months ago.

Concerns centered around the economic impact of fleets and their ability to adapt to new standards. They would essentially be required to purchase more fuel-efficient equipment at potentially high costs, which given the current uneasiness in the industry, may represent too big of a burden for some small, independent fleets.

In an interview with Fleet Owner in August, Allen Schaeffer indicated the challenges of adapting to new regulations are numerous for commercial vehicles.

"In addition to compliance with these new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions requirements on a wide variety of customizable products, they must ensure near zero emissions performance for at least 435,000 miles," said Schaeffer.

The differences between Phase 1 and 2 are noticeable because Phase 1 was generally seen as a win-win in the industry.

Even so, Sean Waters, director of compliance and regulatory affairs at Daimler Trucks North America, believes the industry is up to the challenge. He told Fleet Owner that millions of dollars will be required for research and development, but he believes customers will still benefit from new technology.

The final rule is available for viewing on the Federal Register website.