One of the biggest fears with any new legislation is driving up costs through extensive R&D. To minimize these fears, there were a lot of meetings between the government agencies and manufacturers.
"The manufacturers sat down over months and talked to the agencies about where they were at with the development of different technologies," says Kedzie. "They also talked about what could be accomplished within the given time frame under the rule."
The plan is to use technologies that have already been developed and accepted by the trucking industry, such as improved aerodynamics, fuel-efficient tires, weight reduction, speed governing and idle reduction. "This is not a technology-forcing rule for the most part," asserts Kedzie.
A technology-forcing rule is when there is not an exact path for you to take today and the technology isn't currently developed. "With technology-forcing standards, you more or less have to figure it out and hit established targets," says Kedzie. The emissions regulation that went into effect in 2007 and was phased in through 2010 is a good example of this type of rule. "EPA started working on that rule in the latter part of the '90s, finalized the rule in 2000, and established targets that took effect in 2007 and 2010."
Unlike those regulations, the fuel economy rules can largely be met with off-the-shelf technologies. "We know what these technologies are, so we are dealing more in the realm of the known vs. the unknown," says Kedzie. For instance, fuel-efficient tires will play a key role in meeting the regulations. "All of the technologies that are being relied upon by manufacturers to meet the 2014 vehicles targets are readily available today."
Take vocational trucks, for example. They account for a large and diverse segment of the heavy truck market. "Under the rule, vocational vehicles include all straight trucks, as well as certain tractors," says John Walsh, Mack Trucks. "EPA requires design and spec changes in vocational vehicles that they estimate will deliver approximately 10% reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gases by model year 2018. The expected vocational fuel savings are predicated entirely on engine and tire changes."
The first wave of regulations will not require any ground-breaking technologies. "We're confident that the first round of targets can be met through the strategic deployment of existing technology, including greater utilization of aerodynamic components and other equipment, like low rolling resistance tires," says Walsh. "Achieving the 2017 standards will likely require engine-related technologies that are not part of our current product offering."
Impact on efficiency and purchase price
Regulators took into account the way heavy trucks are used when formulating this regulation.
For instance, the regulations for combination tractors are divided into categories based on cab height and whether it is a sleeper cab or a day cab. The highest efficiency gains are expected from high-roof, Class 8 sleeper cab trucks, which tend to be running at continuous and higher speeds over long stretches of highway. "You can get a lot more bang from improved aerodynamics, idling reduction and fuel-efficient tires," says Kedzie.
The vocational segment is treated much differently. Efficiency gains from vocational trucks will come mainly from engine tweaks and tire improvements. "On the vocational diesel engine side, you are looking at about a 3% to 5% improvement starting in 2014," says Kedzie. Gasoline engines get a little more time. "The target is 5% by 2016."
Of course, such gains come at a cost. The EPA and NHTSA provide estimates on pricing, but the final costs will be determined by how much change is required for a particular vehicle.
"When you try to wade through the different costs and the cost breakdowns, it is somewhat difficult to find where some of these figures are coming from," says Kedzie. "When it comes to long-haul trucks, over half of the cost increase was associated with the purchase of an auxiliary power unit (APU) to reduce idling."
The APUs, along with other fuel-saving technologies used, will run several thousand dollars. "It really rests on how big a package you purchase," Kedzie notes. "You get better fuel economy if you stack different technologies." But the return on investment may also take a bit longer.