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DTNA: Impact of fuel economy standards will vary by fleet

Oct. 28, 2010
Depending on the type of vehicles a fleet operates, the proposed fuel economy standards for trucks could have very little impact on equipment costs, according to Brian Burton

Depending on the type of vehicles a fleet operates, the proposed fuel economy standards for trucks could have very little impact on equipment costs, according to Brian Burton, director of compliance for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), which manufactures Freightliner and Western Star trucks. “The cost impact will depend on the type of vehicles a customer uses,” Burton told Fleet Owner.

“The proposed rule is designed to increase the use of fuel efficient technologies that are currently available,” he said. “If a fleet is already using a number of these solutions, they should not see much of an increase in equipment cost. If, however, a company is using virtually no fuel-savings equipment and technologies, such as aerodynamic fairings, then the cost impact will be greater.”

In either case, Burton noted that the return on investment should offset any upfront cost increases. “We would expect increased costs to be offset by the ROI,” he noted.

“The purpose of the proposal is to try to encourage truck customers to use what [OEMs and other industry suppliers] have already developed and designed,” Burton continued. “We believe it is a good step to take for the environment. If it will be a good step for any particular truck user or not, is another question. Some truck customers, for example, may think that aerodynamic devices or single-wide tires are just not useful or necessary for their particular operation.”

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers the proposed rule to be “performance-based,” Burton noted that the list of factors for use in achieving the new standards is limited in each vehicle category covered.

These are also the same factors that will go into the computer model used for certification of fuel efficiency. “Yes, it is a performance-based standard, but there are few variables to work with,” he said.

The list of targeted fuel-conserving devices and strategies varies depending upon which vehicle category of the proposed rule a truck or bus falls into. For example, vocational trucks have a different list than over-the-road trucks.

The list may include:

  • Idle-reduction systems
  • Aerodynamics
  • Advanced transmissions
  • Tires
  • Weight reduction
  • Managing a/c system leakage
  • Speed limiting.

There is a separate standard and list for engine makers, which will have to certify their compliance separately.

Burton said that DTNA expects to see some changes to the rule following the public comment period. However, the OEM expects the final rule will be issued on schedule in July 2011 and to go into effect on schedule as well, in 2014.

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