The Phase 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) final rule issued Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is creating a world of confusion for trailer manufacturers, according to Truck Trailer Manufacturers Association (TTMA) engineering manager John Freiler.
“They changed the way they’re counting trailers as far as which ones are in there,” Freiler told Trailer/Body Builders today. “That’s probably the biggest thing. They tried to narrow it, but as we’re looking it, we’re thinking maybe in some ways they expanded it. It’s going to create some confusion. Their rule wasn’t crafted in the best way.”
According to the final rule:
• Box vans are trailers with enclosed cargo space that is permanently attached to the chassis, with fixed sides, nose, and roof. Tank trailers are not box vans.
• Box vans with self-contained HVAC systems are refrigerated vans. Note that this includes systems that provide cooling, heating, or both. All other box vans are dry vans.
• Trailers that are not box vans are non-box trailers. Note that the standards for non-box trailers in this part 1037 apply only to flatbed trailers, tank trailers, and container chassis.
• Box vans with length at or below 50 feet are short box vans. Other box vans are long box vans.
• The following types of equipment are not trailers for purposes of this part 1037: containers that are not permanently mounted on chassis; and dollies used to connect tandem trailers.
“And that’s really where there’s going to be the rub,” Freiler said. “There’s going to be lot of argument with some of these different types of trailers, because the issue will be, ‘Is something a box trailer?’ This came up recently. Is a livestock trailer a box trailer? If you look at it, it says a box van has an enclosed cargo space that is permanently attached to a chassis with fixed sides, nose, and roof. And then it shows specifically tank trailers are not box vans.
“For the case of a livestock trailer, you could argue it’s got fixed walls or you could argue that because they have big gaps in there that those aren’t walls. It’s going to be a big to-do and a lot of misunderstanding. A lot of discussion is going to have to take place. We’re discovering more and more about this rule as we go over it. I hardly have anything exhaustive yet to say. There are about 5000 pages here between the rule (1690 pages), the responses to comments and the regulatory impact analysis. There’s stuff buried everywhere.”
Freiler said he has spent the past three days just trying to get a handle on the new final rule. It has been easy, but he says there are two other changes he has noticed:
• “They’re allowing tire pressure monitoring systems, so you don’t have to have an automatic tire inflation system, which is going to be good for guys who are using very high-pressure tires that are up over the pressures allowed by the tractor."
• “They changed some of the assumptions about how a short box trailer is hauled. They used to say it was being hauled by a Class 8, and now they’re assuming it’s hauled by a Class 7. But as far as how that breaks out, they basically changed the whole formula used to calculate what you need to do. So I haven’t been able to get an idea of whether they made it any easier or any harder, but the numbers are very different from what was in proposal.”
Freiler said it’s also important to realize it’s a dual rule.
“So we have to go down to the 49 CFR section and make sure those don’t somehow have something different from the EPA rules in 1037,” he said. “And that’s another one where it’s hard to see one way or another. I could easily see it going where you’ll have different enforcement people choosing different interpretations, depending on their whim of the day.
“We’re still working out things as far as what our official position is. Definitely we think it’s creating a lot of confusion, and we also believe this rule was not necessary because the SmartWay program really was maximizing efficiency for the trailer market.”
TTMA president Jeff Sims said the organization is still questioning the authority behind the final rule.
“If you read the response comments under authority, they just willy-nilly put words in there,” he said. “We still believe wholeheartedly that they do not have the authority to regulate the trailer industry under EPA. That’s been part of our comment ever since we started.
“We’re working with our engineering committees to make sure we understand they understand. This is only part of the rule. You have the whole other section of compliance, how they report, all this stuff that the trailer industry has never had to do. So that’s another several thousand pages of reporting and record keeping. That’s a whole bailiwick we have to learn.”
For the first time, a set of CO2 emission and fuel consumption standards for manufacturers of new trailers will take effect over a period of nine years. Regulators consider trailers to be an integral part of the tractor-trailer vehicle.
The joint rulemaking has been signed by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. The rules will become law 60 days after publication in The Federal Register.
Phase 2 will affect companies that manufacture, sell, or import into the United States medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including trailers, buses, and work trucks. The final standards will phase in gradually, beginning in the 2018 model year. New regulated trailers built on or after January 1, 2018, need to be certified to the new CO2 emissions standards. NHTSA fuel consumption standards are voluntary until MY 2021.
At varying levels of stringency, the standard will apply to two types of vans—those that can be fully equipped with aerodynamic devices and those with work-producing equipment such as liftgates that restrict the full use of aerodynamic devices. It also will apply to “non-box van” trailers, including tanks, platforms, and container chassis. These will be required to use low rolling resistance tires, along with tire inflation systems, but will not be required to have aerodynamic devices.
Excluded trailers include:
• All trailers with four or more axles.
• Trailers less than 35 feet long with three axles.
• Trailers with an axle spread of at least 120 inches between adjacent axle centerlines. The axle spread exclusion does not apply to trailers with adjustable axles that have the ability to be spaced less than 120 inches apart.
• Miscellaneous trailers such as mobile homes and trailers intended for temporary or permanent residence, office space, or other work space, and carnival trailers.