Fuel standards should save fleets money, report says

Fuel standards should save fleets money, report says

An analysis of the new federal fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and pickups conducted by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) concludes that fleets and consumers alike should reap more than enough savings to compensate for increased costs to make those vehicles comply with the new regulations

An analysis of the new federal fuel efficiency standards for heavy-duty trucks and pickups conducted by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) concludes that fleets and consumers alike should reap more than enough savings to compensate for increased costs to make those vehicles comply with the new regulations.

“Our research indicates that the fuel savings these standards will generate should far exceed any upfront costs,” Zoe Lipman, NWF’s senior manager for transportation solutions, told Fleet Owner. “We’ve also consistently seen cost estimates for new technology actually come in lower than expected, meaning the payback periods should be shorter.”

In a conference call with reporters to discuss NWF’s new report – Trucks that Work – Lipman said tractor-trailer operators should see a net savings of $73,000 over the expected lifecycle of each unit due to reduced fuel consumption and after accounting for the additional costs of new technology.

“We calculate the additional cost per tractor-trailer will be in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, yet net out $73,000 over the life of the vehicle. Depending on annual mileage, the payback period could be as short as six months,” she said.

Vocational trucks would not see as great a gain, but should reap enough fuel savings to cover any technological costs, Lipman pointed out. She said NWF figures these models should see an average stickler price increase of $300 to $400 per unit, while saving $4,000 worth of fuel during its lifecycle. But as vocational trucks are typically owned and operated far longer than tractor-trailers – in some cases 10 to 15 years – the benefits from those fuel savings will grow over time.

Heavy duty ¾ and one ton pickup truck models should save $6,000 over the course of their lifecycle, according to NWF’s analysis – with gasoline-powered models seeing a 10% improvement in fuel economy, with diesel-powered units gaining 15%, Lipman noted.

“We calculate only a modest upfront cost of $1,200 to $1,300 per heavy duty pickup, meaning the fuel savings more than triple that amount,” she pointed out. “Most owners should see a payback within two to three years.”

Lipman added that the vehicle owners should see savings from these rules “right away,” which will compounded significantly if they are upgrading from older truck models. She used Ford Motor Co.’s F-150 light duty pickup as an example, though Lipman noted this model is covered under a different set of federal standards.

“The F-150 pickup truck gives us a glimpse of what’s possible for this sector,” she said. “The 2011 F-150 is 21% more fuel-efficient than the previous mode – and at the same time, it’s significantly more powerful, with 50% more horsepower and more torque. So a driver who trades in a 2005 model for a 2011 model is effectively cutting 75 cents off the cost of every gallon at today’s prices – saving hundreds of dollars a year on gasoline.”

NWF’s report also calculates that that fuel efficiency gains across the truck model spectrum should reduce U.S. oil consumption by more than 1.2 billion barrels of oil a year, or 3.4 million barrels of oil per day – more than the U.S. currently imports from Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Venezuela combined, Lipman noted.

Altogether, NWF believes the U.S. as a whole should see a savings of $42 billion from these new rules, with Lipman noting the bulk of that dollar figure – some $30 billion – coming from reduced oil consumption and the rest from human health improvements due to less vehicle exhaust pollution.

“The nice thing about these standards for heavy truck operators is that they allow them to recover fuel economy lost to emissions improvements over the last 10 years,” she added. “We like this position where we can save fleets money and help the nation from an environmental and energy security perspective, as opposed to just saying we’re now making the air cleaner.”

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