Proposed Fuel Economy Rules for Large Trucks Would Save as Much Oil as Is Imported From OPEC... Each Year!

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CC BY 2.0. Flickr

Why not throw in mandatory side-guards on all trucks too?

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released proposed 'phase 2' fuel economy rules for large trucks. Phase 1, which applies to heavy vehicles built between 2014 and 2018, is projected to reduce oil consumption by 530 million barrels, and cut CO2 emissions by about 270 million metric tons. Phase 2 would apply to heavy vehicles, such as 18-wheel tractor-trailers, buses, delivery vans, heavy-duty pickup trucks and other commercial vehicles, built between 2021 and 2027. It targets a 24% reduction in fuel consumption by 2027 compared to an equivalent vehicle built in 2018.

Transportation-related greenhouse gases are the second-largest source of emissions after power plants, accounting for roughly 27% of total emissions, according to Reuters.

Diesel truck photo

Flickr/CC BY 2.0

24% more efficient by 2027

The regulators say that these new rules would slash carbon pollution by 1.1 billion tons, reduce oil consumption by 1.8 billion barrels, and save about $170 billion in fuel costs between 2018 and 2027. "The total oil savings under the program would be greater than a year’s worth of US imports from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) each year," the agencies calculated. They also say that they could "accelerate targeted improvements as new fuel-efficient technology becomes available," which wouldn't be a bad idea, especially since we should be moving to electrified transportation as fast as possible anyway (and in parallel clean up the power grid).

In other words, if a current long-haul truck averages about 5-7 MPG, a good tractor-trailer in 2027 could average about 10 MPG while hauling 68,000-lbs at 65 MPH. The MPG improvements might sound small when written out like that, but remember that what matters is the relative improvement (the percentage change), and the absolute number of fuel that will be saved.

Going from 5 MPG to 10 MPG in a large truck is like going from 40 MPG to 80 MPG in a Prius on a relative basis, but on an absolute basis, the large truck will save much more fuel because it burns a lot more to begin with (these large trucks are moving all day long).

Oh, and how about making it mandatory to have side-guards on all trucks, eh? Come on!


Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

sideguard truck

Side guard on boston truck/CC BY 2.0

Via Reuters, GCC