The sky may not be falling

Nov. 7, 2016
Pre-buy talk around GHG2 is premature

We are already hearing from some industry analysts that the sky is falling.  What am I talking about?  I am referring to their predictions of a pre-buy in 2019 and 2020 ahead of Greenhouse Gas 2 (GHG2) emissions regulations. And of course they are also forecasting a sharp drop in truck sales in 2021 following the pre-buy activity.

These kinds of large swings in the truck purchasing cycle seem to plague our industry and historically have proven to be a very bad thing, requiring hiring and capital swings that require much effort.

In this case in particular I don’t really understand why a pre-buy is necessary. I know there will likely be an increase in the price of the newer trucks but truck makers are already expressing confidence in their ability to meet the regs using some technology that is already available: low rolling resistance tires, aerodynamic devices, integrated powertrain, tire pressure inflation systems, etc.

I don’t think this latest emissions regulation is as scary as some of the ones the industry has already survived. I have not heard any concerns about reliability of the technology solutions the OEMs are pursuing, in this first stage of the GHG 2 regulation.

The other thing about pushing purchasing decisions forward is that you will miss out on the fuel economy benefits of the trucks that will meet the new GHG regs. Fuel economy benefits that will help offset the higher initial purchase price and that could actually lower the total cost of ownership of these cleaner vehicles.

We are still a few years away from the regulations going into effect and I wish industry pundits would hold off talking pre-buy at least until we get a little closer so that we can see what the component manufacturers and OEMs can accomplish between now and 2019.

There is no point in yelling, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” when in fact it likely will not.

About the Author

Michael Roeth | Executive Director

Michael Roeth has worked in the commercial vehicle industry for nearly 30 years, most recently as executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE). He serves on the second National Academy of Sciences Committee on Technologies and Approaches for Reducing the Fuel Consumption of Medium and Heavy-Duty Vehicles and has held various positions in engineering, quality, sales, and plant management with Navistar and Behr/Cummins.

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