Recently President Obama called for tighter fuel-efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks.
Speaking earlier this month at a Safeway distribution center in Maryland, the President ordered the EPA and Dept. of Transportation to draft a new round of standards by March of 2015, to take effect one year later. I am sure we all care about this environment that we share and want to pass along a better world to our children than we currently have, but if we are honest, we also want to know what does it really cost us?
So the first question is what do the current regulations cost us? The first round of increased standards implemented in 2003, 2007, and 2010 has raised the cost of every truck by $35,000 on average! The current standards finalized in 2011 that go into effect in 2014 through 2017 are estimated to cost an additional $15,000. With a total of $50,000 per truck in costs already and the new rules would apply to vehicles with model years of 2018 and beyond, there is no telling where costs will skyrocket.
You may be thinking these added costs are worth it and needed to clean up our air. However, did you know that a truck produced in 2014 will only emit 3% of the pollutants compared to truck produced in 2003. A 2014 model truck that sits idling in downtown Los Angeles will emit cleaner exhaust than the surrounding ambient air. This is how far we have come. How much further can we go and what is the cost?
The President plans to leave it up to EPA and DOT to specify a new target for fuel efficiency. However President Obama made it clear that trucks are a major target of his larger plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Manufacturers have already started preparing for the 2018 standards. According to Forbes magazine, “Engine manufacturer Cummins Inc. and truck maker Peterbilt Motors Co. (part of PACCAR) have embraced the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program, launched to improve the efficiency of the heaviest trucks on the road. A joint demonstration last month by the two companies showed off a tractor-trailer that got 10.7 miles to the gallon in real-world driving conditions. Most heavy trucks today get around 6 MPG.”
So there are some positives, like better gas mileage, but once again the question remains, “At what cost?”. The American Trucking Associations, president and CEO, Bill Graves, hopes the Administration “proceed[s] cautiously” and “will set forth on a path that is both based on the best science and research available, and [is] economically achievable.”
I understand that most trucking and heavy equipment companies operate on such razor thin margins that the question is “How will it be absorbed?”. Todd Spencer, VP of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said that the new standards could make it economically impossible for many professional drivers to afford trucks. An increasing number of truckers “are being squeezed out of the option toBUY new equipment, because of ever-increasing prices due to government requirements that are long on promises, but way short on performance,” he said.
One of the best options is to continue to buy used or slightly older model trucks that still have plenty of mileage left on them, but do not have to comply with the newest regulations. By uniting with a truck maintenance partner who is committed to maximizing uptime with frequent complete inspection checks, dynamometer verified remanufacturing practices, and a commitment to service technology you can see increased cost savings from not buying new.
Whatever you do, ignoring it is not an option. You must have a plan, because with the average 2014 model truck additional EPA compliancy cost topping $50,000, there is no telling the cost in 2018.