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GHG Phase 2: The effects on heavy-duty truck fleets

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According to John Flynn, chief executive officer of Fleet Advantage, “The initial Greenhouse Gas (GHG) mandates have already saved Class 8 transportation fleets millions of dollars in operating costs by reducing fuel consumption.” On Aug. 16, the federal government passed the proposed regulation, GHG Phase 2, to further tighten emissions and improve fuel economy for heavy duty-trucks by up to 25% from 2017 through 2027 model years. The GHG Phase 2 final rule, issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also contains the first-ever federal efficiency standards for new trailers.

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EPA and NHTSA are establishing rules for a comprehensive Phase 2 Heavy-Duty (HD) national program that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption from new on-road medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines. NHTSA’s fuel consumption standards and EPA’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emission standards are tailored to each of four regulatory categories of heavy-duty vehicles: combination tractors; trailers used in combination with those tractors; heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans; and vocational vehicles. The rule also includes separate standards for the engines that power combination tractors and vocational vehicles. In addition, EPA is clarifying the classification of natural gas engines and other gaseous-fueled heavy-duty engines.

Finally, EPA is requiring that engines from donor vehicles installed in new glider vehicles meet the emission standards applicable in the year of assembly of the new glider vehicle, including all applicable standards for criteria pollutants, with limited exceptions for small businesses and for other special circumstances.

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OEMs to exceed requirements

According to OEMs, the efficiency improvements will include new combustion design and higher PSI in fuel delivery systems, which creates a more precise fuel spray pattern and new variable speed turbo chargers that further compress air fuel mixtures resulting in improved combustion and a lower percentage of unburned fuel resulting in increased power from each gallon of diesel. Increased power per piston combustion equals more horsepower at no additional fuel burn.

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Further advancements will include:

  • Topography software;
  • Eco coasting;
  • Increased connectivity and communications between engine, transmission and axles; and
  • Electrification of numerous engine driver components such as power steering, air-conditioning compressors, etc.

“With the recent passing of the GHG Phase 2, the mandate projects an improvement of 1 mile per gallon [MPG] or about $4,200 per truck savings per year in the first few years in fuel alone,” said Kenneth Loricchio, manager of advanced analytics at Fleet Advantage. In total, the final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program.

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GHG Phase 2 and truck lifecycle management

“The acquisition and disposal decision you make today will significantly impact total cost of ownership,” Flynn added. Fuel represents 70% of a vehicle’s pure operating costs; understanding the financial impact of integrating new equipment technologies that continually increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions is imperative. Leveraging these improvements can elevate a truck fleet to a competitive differentiator with cost reductions applied to revenue enhancement strategies—creating an edge over competitors. In order to realize gains from these mandates, it is essential to have a strategy for the future that includes options on vehicle lifecycle practices:

  • How long you run your trucks;
  • How many trucks you order per year;
  • The optimal specifications for your operation;
  • The method of financing you select.

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