New Fuel Economy Standards for Heavy Duty Trucks Will Raise Efficiency and Prices

By Larry Edsall for

How much would the new federal regulations for heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans add to the cost of that F-Ramarado HD you’ll need to buy in a few years?

The additional technologies needed to satisfy the proposed fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas regulations submitted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency "are estimated to add costs of approximately $1,249 to $1,592 for [model year] 2018 heavy-duty pickups and vans," according to the proposal, which now is open to public comment.

That’s it? What about the $15,000 price bump we were dreading?

The DOT and EPA said their goals of a 15 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and improved fuel economy for diesel-powered HD pickups and a 10 percent change for gasoline trucks can be achieved without radically expensive technology. An additional 2 percent improvement in fuel efficiency is expected from new “direct air conditioning leakage standards,” the agencies said.

While the DOT and EPA estimate it will cost around $500 to reduce the weight of each HD pickup by some 5 percent, they forecast the use of eight-speed automatic transmissions should add only $231 to the price of a new truck, that improving aerodynamics should cost around $50, and installation of electric or electro/hydraulic power steering will add around $110 per vehicle.

Additional engine technology, including cylinder deactivation and gasoline direct injection, could add another $700 to the cost of the gasoline-fueled engines used in HD pickups. Diesel engines will need less than $300 in upgrades, the agencies estimate.

The fear of a price bump in the $15,000 range emerged from a recent report by The National Academies. That 414-page document, which was part of the DOT and EPA’s regulation-development process, suggested ways to improve HD pickup fuel efficiency by as much as 44.5 percent, which would be a more expensive undertaking than meeting the targets set by the DOT and EPA.

HD pickup truck producers are studying the proposed regulations.

"GM has worked closely with the EPA on these new standards, and we look forward to working with the agency through the rules’ technical details," General Motors said in a statement. "As a result, GM will have product plans that will ensure our heavy-duty pickup trucks and full-size vans meet the new fuel economy requirements and still deliver the performance and utility the customers of these trucks need and expect."

A representative from Ford said the company is reviewing the lengthy recommendations and will be an eager participant in the public comment period.

"We’re currently reviewing the proposal, and it would be premature to comment on the impact it would have on our heavy-duty trucks," a representative from Ram said.

One aspect of the regulations that manufacturers are considering is a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for HD pickup producers to "select one of two fuel consumption standard alternatives for model years 2016 and later. Manufacturers would select an alternative at the same time they submit the model year 2016 Pre-Certification Compliance Report; and, once selected, the alternative would apply for model years 2016 and later, and could not be reversed."

The new HD pickup regulations are part of a 673-page proposal for new heavy-duty vehicle rules that would cover everything from HD pickups to cement mixers, garbage trucks and semis.

Between 2014 and 2018, the new HD pickup truck and van regulations would save 2.2 billion gallons of petroleum, the DOT and EPA predict. By comparison, for that same period, new regulations for, say, sleeper-cab semis are expected to save 10.4 billion gallons.

In May, President Barack Obama called on the DOT and EPA 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 proposal includes the agencies’ regulation recommendations.

The 60-day period of public comment includes public hearings Nov. 15 in Chicago and Nov. 18 in Cambridge, Mass.


Just curious here.

Is there a chance that "new" diesels (like 2012 or later) could meet emissions, run pump diesel but also be equipped to run biodiesel? The ones I see now when shopping around are just B20, if I recall correctly. Thanks.

Norm Mathers, a hydraulics engineer in Brisbane,Australia (Mathers Hydraulics Pty Ltd), has developed an award winning revolutionary two-stage hydraulic pump for power steering that will save the trucking and construction industry millions of dollars a year. The pump reduces the load on the engine and reduces fuel consumption, which translates into huge fuel and cost savings while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

I understand that some of the large truck and truck parts manufacturers are looking at this solution.


Thanks, I'm going to have nightmares tonight.

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