As part of his climate action plan, the President called for strengthening fuel economy and global warming emissions standards for the biggest trucks on the road. A worthy goal — but what does it mean in terms of real reductions in global warming emissions and oil consumption? And how do we get there?
Over the last several months, in collaboration with other NGOs, we have been working hard to crunch the numbers to determine just how far we can go, and what it would take to get there. Over the next few months, we will be releasing more detailed analysis outlining the path forward for these new standards. Today, however, we can at least share the good news: Standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks can cut the average fuel consumption of new trucks by 40% in 2025, as compared to 2010.
Acting on trucks can provide tremendous benefits
What does reducing truck fuel consumption by 40% do? It means that by 2030, we will save 1.4 million barrels of oil every day. That is enough oil to fuel over 21 million trips around the earth! It will also keep nearly 270 million metric tons of global warming emissions out of the atmosphere every year. And for the average long-haul truck driver, these new standards would save him or her $30,000 in fuel annually.
We have the technology to build it
There are a plethora of technologies out there, both on the road and in the lab, that can help us get to a cleaner trucking future. I’ve already talked about some of the aerodynamic devices being put on trailers today, but improvements to reduce the weight and rolling resistance of trailers helps reduce the amount of fuel needed to pull freight to where it needs to go.
Improvements in transmissions to reduce friction and keep the engine operating at its most efficient point can improve the fuel consumption of all trucks, not just big rigs. And we are likely to see continued improvements to the engine, including capturing heat from the engine that would normally be wasted as exhaust and instead using that energy to actually improve the power output of the engine. Electric and hybrid-electric trucks could also play a role in reducing oil usage and global warming emissions.
Now we need to get there
Our analysis shows that these standards can cut fuel consumption from tractor-trailers nearly in half, and we can reduce fuel use by other trucks on the road including delivery vans and heavy-duty pick-ups by about 30%. In the coming months, policy makers will be working to set the next round of fuel efficiency and global warming emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks. But to get these standards finalized, we need your help.
Share this infographic with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers to let everyone know what is possible. We’re getting the word out early in this discussion that heavy-duty vehicles can continue to deliver the goods we need with much less oil—will you help us build support by sharing this new analysis?