U.S. issues final draft of new emissions and fuel economy standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles

The U.S. announced new rules that would raise its fuel economy and emissions standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles, including school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and large long-haul tractor-trailers. Heavy vehicles represent only 5% of road traffic, but they account for a staggering 20% of carbon pollution from transportation. Without government action, the amount of emissions is expected to grow.

Experts estimate that large trucks consume an average of 76,000 litres of fuel a year.

The standards cover vehicle engine and performance over model years 2021-2027 for semi-trucks, large pickup trucks, vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks as well as certain trailers for model years 2018-2027. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued the final draft of the next round of emissions and fuel economy standards on August 16, which mandate a 25% reduction in certain greenhouse gases by 2027, when compared to 2018 model year. The new rule finalises the Phase 2 emissions standards which were released last year.

When fully implemented, the standards will reduce approximately 1.1 billion tons of carbon pollution, save vehicle owners nearly USD 170 billion in fuel costs, and reduce oil consumption by up to 84 billion gallons.

The new measures follow earlier efforts to improve energy efficiency for cars, aircraft, power plants and air conditioners.

The program, which the U.S.EPA and the U.S. DOT worked closely with the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to finalise, includes carbon and fuel efficiency standards for certain trailers used with heavy-duty combination tractors for the first time; creates certainty by creating standards that increase over a period of 10 years; allows manufacturers to achieve the standards through a mix of different technologies; yields fuel savings that more than offset the costs and have favorable payback periods for truck owners; encourages manufacturers to continue to build a single fleet of vehicles and engines for the entire U.S. market; establishes complete vehicle standards and enhanced test procedures that incentivise holistic technology approaches for further real world improvements; and improves the agencies’ ability to measure industry’s performance and enforce compliance, drawing from extensive data and stakeholder feedback related to actual vehicle performance.

Additionally, based on input and technical data received during the public comment period, the final program
achieves 10% more carbon emission and fuel consumption reductions than the proposed standards.

In line with U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to increase investment in clean energy research, development and demonstration (RD&D), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is investing nearly USD 140 million to improve vehicle and truck efficiency. DOE plans to invest USD 80 million in funding to develop the next generation of fuel efficient truck technologies. DOE will also invest USD 57 million in new projects to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge light duty vehicle technologies.