By Larry Edsall for PickupTrucks.com
"Work factor" attributes — including payload and towing capacity and whether a vehicle uses two- or four-wheel drive — will be used to determine new fuel economy standards for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans.
The federal government said today that its new regulations for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans will reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent by model year 2018.
Although there will be separate standards for gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles, the new rules are expected to save one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled by all heavy-duty pickups and vans.
Exact numbers have yet to be published because the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "are finalizing standards on a per-mile basis" that will be expressed in "grams per mile" from the EPA and "gallons per 100 miles traveled" from NHTSA.
Light-duty vehicles will be categorized by footprint — the wheelbase multiplied by average track width. HD pickups and vans, however, will be evaluated on a work-based metric that includes payload and towing capacity because "buyers consider these utility-based attributes when purchasing a heavy-duty pickup or van"” the federal agencies reported.
Along with payload and towing capacity, the "work factor" metric (expressed in pounds) accounts for whether a vehicle is equipped with two- or four-wheel drive (which, the regulations say, adds an average of 500 pounds to a vehicle’s weight).
While a specific miles-per-gallon figure may not yet be available, charts show that a 2014 model-year HD diesel rated at 8,000 work-factor pounds would be expected to use around 7.45 gallons per 100 miles traveled, with that number reduced to around 6.75 gallons per 100 miles for model year 2018.
For gasoline-fueled HD pickups with an 8,000-pound work factor, the 2014 figure would be around 8.40 gallons per 100 miles for 2014 and 7.80 gallons per 100 miles by 2018.
Government figures show that heavy-duty pickups and vans — those with gross vehicle weight ratings between 8,501 pounds and 10,000 pounds in Class 2b and between 10,001 pounds and 14,000 pounds in Class 3 — are responsible for some 15 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from the heavy-duty sector.
"About 90 percent of HD pickups and vans are three-quarter-ton and 1-ton pickup trucks, 12- and 15-passenger vans, and large work vans that are sold by vehicle manufacturers as complete vehicles, with no secondary manufacturer making substantial modifications prior to registration and use," the regulations report says. "These vehicle manufacturers are companies with major light-duty markets in the United States, primarily Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.
"Furthermore, the technologies available to reduce fuel consumption and (greenhouse gas) emissions from this segment are similar to the technologies used on light-duty pickup trucks, including both engine efficiency improvements (for gasoline and diesel engines) and vehicle efficiency improvements.
"For these reasons, EPA believes it is appropriate to adopt (greenhouse gas) standards for HD pickups and vans based on the whole vehicle (including the engine), expressed as grams per mile, consistent with the way these vehicles are regulated by EPA today for criteria pollutants.
"NHTSA believes it is appropriate to adopt corresponding gallons per 100-mile fuel consumption standards that are likewise based on the whole vehicle."
Testing will be done on chassis dynos using city and highway test cycles.
The regulations suggest that vehicle enhancements needed to meet the new fuel economy targets — methods ranging from using lower-friction lubricants to reducing vehicle weight and from improving aerodynamics to using lower rolling-resistance tires — will add $165 to the price of a 2014 HD pickup, $215 in 2015, $422 for 2016, $631 for 2017 and $1,048 for a 2018 model.
The new regulations are the first for heavy-duty vehicles.
"Thanks to the Obama administration, for the first time in our history we have a common goal for increasing the fuel efficiency of the trucks that deliver our products, the vehicles we use at work, and the buses our children ride to school," U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. "These new standards will reduce fuel costs for businesses, encourage innovation in the manufacturing sector and promote energy independence for America."
Together with new rules for semitrucks and for "vocational" vehicles (delivery trucks, buses and garbage trucks), the heavy-duty truck regulations are expected to save 530 million barrels of oil, save vehicle owners an estimated $50 billion in fuel costs and bring an estimated $49 billion in “societal benefits,” such as improved air quality and reduced health costs, between 2014 and 2018.
While there will be increased upfront costs to buy vehicles that meet the new regulations, the government says a semitruck operation could see net savings of $73,000 through reduced fuel costs over a vehicle’s life.
The new regulations take effect 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. Click here for the full rundown.
In addition to announcing its HD regulations, the DOT and EPA said they are considering regulation of trailers to reduce their drag when being towed.