Heavy-Duty Pickup Prices Could Increase Nearly $15,000 to Meet MPG Standards

Heavy-Duty Pickup Prices Could Increase Nearly $15000 to Meet MPG Standards
By Larry Edsall for PickupTrucks.com

According to a 414-page report from The National Academies: Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine, new federal regulations aimed at increasing fuel economy and reducing emissions could add as little as a few bucks or as much as several thousand dollars to the price of your next new HD pickup.

How much? Nearly $15,000 per vehicle isn't out of the question.

"There is no question that using new technologies to meet federal fuel economy targets will be necessary and many of these technologies have the potential to add significant cost to new vehicles," said Charlie Territo, spokesman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a Washington, D.C.-based organization comprising a dozen automakers.

"Costs will depend on the specific fuel economy targets and the cost of the technology that needs to be added," explained Territo.

"At the end of the day, what remains to be seen is whether or not consumers will be willing to pay those costs," said Territo. "This is a very challenging economic time and we need to insure that the costs of new technology are in line with what consumers can afford to pay."

Whether someone operates a fleet or vehicles or owns a single HD work truck, the vehicle owner has an option, as Territo put it, "to buy a new vehicle or to hold onto a current vehicle longer."

And, Territo added, "There is no benefit if these vehicles aren’t on the road."

In May, President Barack Obama called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Transportation to include work trucks – medium- and heavy-duty vehicles – under the fuel economy and emissions umbrella that already spans passenger cars and light-duty trucks.

The EPA and DOT have responded and sent the administration a draft of the proposed regulations covering medium- and heavy-duty vehicles for model years 2014 -2018. Those proposed standards have not been released, but they could be available this fall and are expected to be announced in their final form next summer.

The new regulations could add as little as a few bucks or as much as several thousand dollars to the price of your next new HD pickup, according to a report from the National Academies.

(Note: What the automakers may label as "heavy-duty" trucks are considered medium duty by the feds and the National Academies, so don’t think you escape under some technicality of language. Your 2016 Ford F-250 Super Duty or Chevy Silverado HD or Ram 3500 is included in the new regulations.)

The report was prepared by the Academies' committee to assess fuel economy technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and by its board on energy and environmental systems. The committee was made up of academics, consultants, folks from the national laboratories and even a representative of Southeastern Freight Lines. Board members included academics as well as representatives of Dow Chemical, Delphi, an investment bank, assorted consultants and retirees from Honeywell, ExxonMobil and Chrysler.

The report covers medium- and heavy-duty vehicles ranging from contractors’ pickups and delivery vehicles to garbage trucks, semis and buses.

Cost Table

In the section that deals with pickup trucks and vans (Class 2b), the report notes that "vehicles with up to 10,000 pounds of gross vehicle weight used for personal transportation are classified as medium-duty passenger vehicles and are subject to light-duty vehicle legislation." It also notes that the “typical application" for Class 2b is “an urban delivery vehicle or a work vehicle for a small contractor.” In other words, your typical HD pickup.

"Fuel consumption can be reduced through vehicle modifications and systematic incorporation of advanced technologies into the powertrain," the report says. "Engine fuel consumption can be reduced by either applying advanced technologies to the spark ignition engine or substituting a diesel engine for the spark ignition engine."

Because of the typically low annual miles traveled by such vehicles, "the highest potential for reducing fuel consumption will reside with engine improvements, hybridization and transmission improvements," the report says.

The report's focus is on technical and mechanical solutions and includes several categories of enhancement. The least expensive is bumping the cost of each truck by $10 to put it on low-rolling-resistance tires, which in most instances would improve fuel economy by 2 percent, the report says. Or, for $100 per vehicle, aerodynamics could be enhanced, resulting in a 3 percent bump in fuel economy.

Interestingly enough, reducing vehicle curb weight by 300 pounds would produce less than 1 percent in fuel savings but would add $800 to the vehicle purchase price, the report says.

Switching from a four-speed to a six- or eight-speed transmission would improve fuel economy by 7 percent– for a cost of $1,000 per truck.

Opt for a parallel hybrid powertrain, and you get an 18 percent boost in fuel economy, though for a cost of $9,000 per vehicle. Going hybrid also adds 300 pounds to the vehicle’s weight, so you’d have to find some other way – at a cost of $600 per vehicle – to remove enough stuff to negate that added weight.

Another option is going from unleaded gasoline to diesel power. The result is a 19 to 24 percent improvement in fuel economy at a cost between $8,000 and $9,000 per vehicle.

The most effective way to increase fuel economy – and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time – is to make changes to the engine. Applying variable valve timing or variable valve lift technology to your typical gasoline-powered V-8 reduces fuel use by 1 to 3 percent at a cost of $120 to $750. Cylinder deactivation reduces fuel use 2 to 3 percent and costs only $75 per truck. Direct injection technology reduces fuel use 2 to 3 percent at a cost of $550 to $950 per truck.

The biggest payoff comes from turbocharging, downsizing and using lean-burn technology, similar to Ford’s EcoBoost engines. A 5.8-liter turbo gasoline engine can produce a 23 percent savings in fuel use. The cost is $4,000, less than half the price of a hybrid.

Do all of the non-diesel changes above, and your 2015-2020 package produces a 44.5 percent fuel savings over today’s HD pickups, at a total cost of $14,710 per vehicle, the report says.

Of course, the report also notes that instead of requiring any complex technical changes to the vehicles themselves, the government could simply reduce fuel consumption by significantly increasing the cost of fuel through higher taxes.


That almost beats the purpose. Ford, GM, and Chrysler are gonna take a huge hit...this is terrible news.

Yep,this is what happens when you have a bunch of hippy green crowd people running the country and making the rules....Global Warming is pure B.S,but everybody will pay for it,look around no more off shore drilling,they want to"push" you out of your car and they want you to walk,ride a bike or take a bus,and people vote for these clowns and believe the b.s they are telling us ! Remember they (left wingers) want us to be like Europe,where gas prices,automobile prices are so high you have no choice but to walk !! Ensure,to wake up people !! This is the end of high powered cars/trucks..we will be forced into little 2 cyl turmobiles and pay a heafty sum for them,but brain washed people lick it up !!

if they do that then smart people should just buy used.


There will be no used if no one is buying new.

Sure, go on and add another $15,000 to an already $60,000 pricetag for the HD trucks. Pure BS if you ask me!!

I'm all for making vehicles better for the environment, but adding $15,000 to the price of a truck is just asinine when you take into consideration the current state of our economy and the buying public. The way things are going we could still be in a recession by 2015. If anything, they should be finding a way to make vehicles less expensive to purchase up front, as a way to get consumers buying again.

This would be absolutely ridiculous, this will hurt small business and contractors that need these trucks. Not to mention Ford, GM, and Chrysler since they won't be selling nearly as many of them.

This is getting far beyond ridiculous. The EPA, along with the Federal government both need to be leashed before they destroy our economy.

I've got an easy way to negate the price increase, take some of the fancy s**t out! I'm getting sick of the in dash GPS and rear seat video systems and heated, power seats. A truck is meant to work, and I don't think I could justify running a $40,000+ vehicle through a muddy pasture. Added bonus, without all the luxury items, fewer people would be buying big diesels as status symbols. I hate seeing dually pickups used for grocery getters and taking the kids to soccer practice. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'd take my '73 Power Wagon over a 2011 King Ranch any day.

Every one calm, just calm down. We have seen this before. Remember the fuel crisis and the new emisions regs of the 70s 80s. It was the end of the car as eveyone new it. Well guess what, automotive engineers are pretty clever. We now have cars that have double the power with better mileage all while being heavier due to safety standards and luxuries that were unheard of 20 years ago. The next few years may be rough but I am confident that the automakers will figure it out.
@ Luke If you remove all those nice features that people love then add on $15000 for the upgrades for MPG you will still have a vehilce that is pushing 50-60k. Problem is it will be a bare bones stripper.

If the government is the one putting in these laws for the automakers to install this expensive technology, all I have to say is that the government better give me a huge (equal to the extra cost of the tech) tax rebate inreturn to cover the intial cost. Hey they do it for hybrids right, why not us? We need these trucks

It's painfully obvious. HD pickups are long overdue for a reality check: smaller displacements, lower hp/tq, less capability. Enough of the ridiculous planned obsolence hp/tq wars. If you need to tow max weight, buy a commercial grade pickup. The majority doesn't need to suffer/subsidize the few/rare extreme user.

Well the government as I see it only has a few American passions left to kill: firearms and sports. Next thing we know we will be paying $10,000 for a slice of all American-Apple-pie!

Finally, some good news for Mother Nature! Our green beautiful planet will continue to exist longer with these new changes. Less CO2 and less H2O produced by the burning of fossil fuel… hold on, I thought those two were good things for plants. S**t I’m confused.

These enviro wacko's need to be chained to their trees. Puhlease.. CO2 is causing global warming. What percentage of CO2 comprises our atmosphere? Less than 1%, in fact less than one half of one percent.

It is nothing but a scare for profit.

This will be scaled back in a couple of years when new leadership takes place in Congress.

Most of this is the liberal side of the house.

This is probably due less to environmental concerns and more to do with trying to become less dependent on oil because 1. there's only a finite supply of oil and 2. most of the oil is located in countries that we're not exactly on good terms with.

Don't vote for Obama, Pelosi and Reid.

Like almost everything the goverment does, this is complete BS!!!!

Honestly I dont have words for the state of things anymore... maybe FUBAR!!!

The end result is to always raise taxes....

Ouch but I tend to agree with Jason L. Engineers will come up with some cost effective solutions.
The story stated changing over from gas to diesel was one of the ways to get the largest savings but unfortunately at the highest price. We probably will see the smaller diesels meant for 1/2 tons find their way into HD trucks.
Ford seems to be ahead of the game with EB engines coming in 2011.
You can slag the greens and global warming but as @CE mentioned there is a finite amount of oil.
You have countries like China who are making the mistake of copying the western model of transportation centered around the automobile. They have little oil of their own so their automotive growth will drive up oil prices.

The sensationalist tone of this article pushes the boundary of what can be called journalism. The idea that an F250 will cost $14,000 more is a straw man that just encourages Chicken Little reactions.

I agree with others here that the pickup truck market needs a strong dose of reality. Substituting a direct injected turbo V8 for a Cummins or Powerstroke diesel will be cheaper without any loss of torque low down in the rev range. The manufacturer can use the savings from the cheaper engine to add other fuel saving technologies without increasing the overall cost of the vehicle.

Bring back the manual!

@double clutch: There's no sensationalism. There's a link in the story to download a copy of the report. I'd recommend you read page 270 to see the $14,710 figure with your own eyes.

We need to abolish the EPA.

This is total fiction.
First, is the truck market going to stand still technically for the next ten years? Why don't these trucks have direct fuel injection and variable valve timing today? Since when do we bill the EPA for every standard engine advancement that every manufacturer in the world is making.

Secondly, what are these "retail" prices?
You can cut the actual cost of most of these by 2/3 minimum.

Third, is the trucking industry not aware of China's auto purchase rate? If this keeps up You Won't Have Gas.

You should be kissing the EPA's ---, Thanking them they are planning to keep your trucks on the road, allowing you to keep your job.

Here's the Real Translation: Oil Industry want's No Fuel Economy Advances. If you're prepared for the next oil spike, well what's the point!

The Oil Industry doesn't give a ---- if you're truck is Parked during the next oil spike.

This is another of those Republican Joe articles where they pretend they are not the puppets of the oil industry, and their looking out for Your Interests. What a Joke.

hypocrite,the cargo carrier pollute more the planet,compare to all the car and truck global..and all the fuel they use ,

I am sorry, but those prices are WAY off by an order of magnitude.

incredible... I doubt the 15k increase would justify the "increase" in mpg in the end. I hope you guys take good care of YOUR equipment, looks like we'll be driving them until they rust apart, and then some ;)

Stratified direct injection, HCCI, and VVT/VVL are all rolled into the engine mods, correct?

If so, I think this is good news. I've seen higher estimates for all of these technologies listed separately. Technology is always marching forward and costs seem to find a way of dropping over time.

Besides, even if costs increase by $15k, the PRICE won't increase by more than half that amount. It's estimated that HD trucks represent $10-$15k in profit per copy...Ford, GM, and Fiat can afford to pay for some of these enhancements.

Last, and certainly not least, let's not forget that automakers can use credits from their car fleet to offset their big trucks.

Good report, as usual.

I'd like to see "CAFE" type regulations were big trucks get a break because super efficient compact trucks exist. That would be a win/win situation for everyone.

That table is missleading, as it includes $9000 for hybrid technology. Seems to me that you certainly wouldn't need a 5.9L GDI engine and an 8 speed automatic transmission in a hybrid. I see it as either-or: hybrid and a 3L turbocharged engine or 5.9L and 8 speed transmission

all these numbers are for is to make the crappiest government agency from crying. it doesn't hurt a bunch of sissy boys who drive honda proteges. They want 500 mpg and no emissions. It isn't quite possible to get both. Kill the EPA!!!!!!!!!!!!

We'll get out of this recession when we get this current bunch of morons out of Washington DC. I figure a great improvement starting in December 2012

I am going to go with the get rid of the EPA comments. All this is going to do is get people to overload half tons or HD Gassers because they cannot afford an HD truck because of the EPA bullshit.

Its going to funny as hell watching them (the big three) beg for more handouts from the very government that wont allow small compact trucks into the USA , thus letting the free market determine the truck needs instead of Washington bureaucrats .

@ George Haven`t you heard? The world is going to end December 2012. The Mayans said so, so it must be true. To bad they are not still around. We could ask them if global warming is real. :)

The hybrid will be an OPTION! It said if you opted for EVERY fuel efficient option it would cost $15,000 more. The hybrid HD trucks will most likely have locamotive-style powertrains, not golfcart-style powertrains.

Increasing fuel milage is great but at that cost and the down breaking of these trucks is just horrible. and for ever1z info its not just the left wingers nore is it just the right wingers,.. its both! If you trust your government then you obviously don't know your history and need a lesson.

-Ford & Me bailout free for Liberty

-Ron Paul Restore the Republic

What a shame!!! I think Obama needs to down size airforce one and fly in single engine commuter jet, no motor cade and trade in his suburban for a chevy volt, lets see how he likes his nuts squeezed. Its very sad to see the great United States spiral out of control. Obviously the people in control are out of control and for sure as hell don't care about someone who needs a truck to make a living.

What's wrong with loading up a 1/2 ton for all its good for cause you can't afford the HD? Do you even need a HD to get most jobs done? No way. You buy a truck to USE it for work.

Buy a 1/2 ton and use 90% of it. You'll come out money ahead of buying an HD and using 60% of it. Those of you who are in business and rely on your vehicle will understand capacity factor: smaller truck, same job = more profit.

Or you can just drive a rig that's probably 2 tons heaver than it really has to be. Your choice

I prefer markets to regulations, but if it takes this from the EPA to kill the concept of luxury appointed heavy duty trucks, fine by me

In these terrible economic times the government needs to be a cheerleader not a burden to small business!

There needs to be a morotoriam on any new rules as far as the EPA is concerned until they can do a common sense approach to Global Warming and Energy Policy is concerned!

Paying $15,000 extra, or even worse raising Fuel Tax just to improve milieage and pollution small amounts will not get it done!

Everyone is for better fuel economy and clean air, and we have done a good job so far! But if the matra is saving lives and fuel and they want to do something positive they should improve our highways and get drunk drivers off the road! More people are being killed by this than all the air pollution deaths!

1) The US has more oil than all of the Middle East put together.

2) CAFE standards do not reduce the amount of oil being used. Make it so people can go farther on a gallon of gas and they just drive more and use more oil. CAFE standards were introduced in 1975. The amount of oil being imported has gone from 20% in 1970 to over 60% today.

3) CAFE does not significant impact greenhouse gas emissions. Cars and trucks subject to fuel economy standards only make up 1.5% of all global man made greenhouse gas emissions.


But one thing CAFE does do effictively is kill people. By making the cars more fuel efficient the companies are forced to make the trucks and cars smaller and lighter and use more plastic and aluminum and people are more vulnerable to dying in accidents. I just can't wait to buy a Mahindra that gets 30 mpg. I'm sure it will be safe.

I've from Europe and left it because I got sick of all these left wing hippocritical Hippy rules. And I NOW find all this crap coming here. It's nothing but lies and deception- with all the sheep like liberal Elite believing it and trying to force you to conform.

@ Boosthis - the price of all vehicles will rise because of these new standards.
They are not going to force HD pickups to get 30 mpg and leave 1/2 tons at 20 mpg.

OMFG! My heavy-duty truck that I use to go to the mall will cost me more! I need it for those five bags of mulch at Home Depot!

I use my 2001 F350 to tow a 14,000 lb. 5th wheel and will be keeping it. Can't afford a $60k replacement, let alone add EPA mandates. Net effect of rule change for me, no impact keeping the old truck.

This is what happens when you have a bunch of lobbyists and bean counters, not technical people making policy by mandate, not thru proper constitutional legislation. Face it, the EPA is under the executive branch and can run roughshod over the public. Remember the rumblings of the EPA mandating caps on carbon based emissions, as the cap and trade bill is dead in the senate?

Also remember that the EPA tiered diesel emissions killed Cat and took $5000, 20 mpg pickup diesels to $8K, 10-14 mpg diesels where you can suck on the tailpipe, as it is so clean.

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