We already have the tech to make high-MPG trucksMedium and heavy-duty vehicle represent about 7% of the vehicles on American roads, but because they are a lot more thirsty for fuel than light passenger vehicles, and because they tend to be driven more miles per year, they account for over 25% of fuel consumption in the country. While light vehicles have improved a lot in the past 10-15 years (after stagnating for a long time), progress has been slow with bigger vehicles. Tractor trailers still average around 6 MPG, not much better than decades ago...
But don't despair! Things might be about to get better. While, 'about to' is a relative term; quickly for a regulatory change... President Obama has directed the EPA and Department of Transportation to develop and to issue the next phase of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas standards by March 2016.
This new standard will improve on the current one, which is only now taking effect for vehicles with model years 2014-2018. This standard is expected to save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. This breaks down into an annual reduction in oil consumption of 390,000 barrels per day in 2030, a reduction in carbon dioxide equivalent of about 270 million metric tons (equal to the emissions from more than 4 million of today’s passenger cars and trucks over their lifetimes), and save individual truck drivers up to $73,000 in fuel costs over the life of a tractor.
We have all the technologies required to make big improvements in fuel economy (via weight-saving, aerodynamics improvement, rolling resistance improvements, hybridization, better engines, etc). All we needed was the will, and it now seems like we're getting there...
This is especially important since these medium and heavy trucks are big users of diesel fuel, which the World Health Organization now considers to cause lung cancer:
Dr Christopher Portier, Chairman of the IARC working Group, stated that “The scientific evidence was compelling and the Working Group’s conclusion was unanimous: diesel engine exhaust causes lung cancer in humans.” Dr Portier continued: “Given the additional health impacts from diesel particulates, exposure to this mixture of chemicals should be reduced worldwide.“
More details here.
Via White House