The Obama administration will order the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to start developing tighter fuel-efficiency standards for medium and heavy-duty work trucks (Class 4 to Class 8). The target date for the release of the new standards designed to help save fuel and reduce pollution will be March 31, 2016.
Emphasis on the big-truck segment is the next phase in the administration's plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and to help limit the amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The previous round of fuel standards finalized in 2011 have already impacted the light-duty segment (cars and half-ton, three-quarter ton and one-ton pickup trucks), guiding automakers to invest in higher-mileage powertrain technologies and lightweight materials in order to the meet the more aggressive mileage targets effective in 2025.
According to the USA Today, the medium and heavy-duty truck segment accounts for only 4 percent of vehicles on the road but these trucks use as much as 25 percent of the nation's fuel and produce the same amount of greenhouse gases. Pushing companies and manufacturers here could significantly improve air quality in certain cities and drastically cut overall vehicle emissions.
Improving fleet and individual truck efficiencies will continue to be important topics at trade shows like the National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show, and we'll have more about future technologies when we attend that show March 5-7 in Indianapolis. More to come.