EPA and NHTSA have made it official: Truck trailers will be included in Phase 2 of the regulations that will reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of commercial vehicles.
When discussing the issue with the Truck Trailer Manufacturers and other industry groups over the past year, regulators previously stressed that any details mentioned during the meetings only reflect current thinking and definitely were subject to change. But in an “on-the-record” teleconference for selected media June 19, officials from both agencies jointly announced that work trucks and trailers will be regulated under the new rules.
The announcement firms up what many in the commercial truck and trailer industry knew was coming: For the first time, work trucks and trailers will be required to meet certain performance standards through the use of existing technologies as well as by means of “innovations” that manufacturers have told regulators will become readily available in the near term.
Initial proposed standards for trailers would apply beginning January 1, 2018 in the EPA program. NHTSA’s trailer standards would be voluntary from 2018 to 2020, becoming mandatory in 2021. The standards would gradually increase in stringency in model years 2021 and 2024, and the most stringent requirements would not apply until model year 2027. During these years manufacturers would make incrementally greater improvements to their new trailers to increase fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions.
The agencies are proposing more stringent requirements for the heavy-duty vehicles currently being regulated under Phase 1, which covers 2014-2018 model years. In addition, the agencies announced during the June 19 press conference that they are proposing for the first-ever CO2 and fuel efficiency standards for certain trailers and work trucks.
“NHTSA and EPA also are seeking standards that would accelerate the program by 2-3 years,” said Janet McCabe, acting associate administrator for EPA’s Office of Air.
The news conference explained the source of the action (presidential mandate) and the expected benefits of the regulations (projected fuel savings that would offset higher equipment costs in less than two years). But other than definitely including trailers and work trucks in the regulation, the announcement did not provide many specifics regarding what will be required of the commercial truck and trailer industry. Those details will be in the official proposal to be published in The Federal Register. However, a publication date has not been announced.
“It’s a big package,” one EPA official said privately. “It could take several weeks. Meantime, we are hoping the pre-publication version on the web will be enough to go on.”