Our industry is not going to be able to meet the proposed Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Phase 2 standards just by talking about them. Although we seem to be doing that...a lot. It is going to take manufacturers putting fuel saving technologies on trucks and fleets buying those trucks. The good news is we have a bit of time to get this right, as the new standards are not scheduled to go into effect until the 2021 through 2027 timeframe.
In the notice of proposed rulemaking posted last June, the EPA estimates the penetration levels of many technologies needed to meet the overall stringency of the regulations. Technologies like 6x2 axles and auxiliary power units are predicted to go to 60% and 90%, respectively, by 2024. That’s a far cry from my estimates of 5% and 10% in 2015.
Why is this a challenge to manufacturers? Simply put there has to be a better total cost of ownership if fleets are going to invest in technologies that help them save fuel. That means products have to cost less on the front end, perform better (get higher miles per gallon improvements) and have fewer adverse consequences (maintenance, weigh less, reduce driver involvement, etc.). A good example that is already in process is 6x2s and tire wear. Early 6x2s caused tires to wear in half the time of their 6x4 counterparts, eating up a portion of the fuel savings of the technology. But as I’ve shared in previous posts, much progress has been made to close the gap in tire costs.
A side note on the driver involvement issue. I was speaking to a large fleet the other day and he said anybody who comes into his office trying to sell him something but uses the phrase “all the driver needs to do” is unceremoniously thrown out of the office. This fleet manager’s contention is that drivers already have enough to do and don’t need to have any more things to worry about.
So my challenge to manufacturers is to continue your research and development efforts in fuel-efficient technologies to make them better and better. It’s important to keep in mind that fleets want to do their part to reduce emissions and consume less fuel but they need to do that in a way that does not affect their wallets or their drivers.
I am happy to chat with any of you and share the insights I’ve received from my conversations with fleets about what they need from you in the next generation of energy efficient trucks and components. Together we can find ways to make money within these regulations.