Truck Makers Prep for Regulations

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Daimler Trucks North America

Severe-duty truck makers have until 2014 to start meeting the first federal rules ever imposed on greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption for vocational trucks, as well as other medium- and heavy-duty on-road vehicles.

But this time, the industry is ahead of the law. Daimler Trucks North America and engine-maker Cummins Inc. are among the firms announcing that their products already meet part or all of the new standards—one full year early.

DTNA, Portland, Ore., announced in February that all of its model-year 2013 trucks comply with the new greenhouse-gas emissions standards and have been certified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“Daimler Trucks North America is the first manufacturer to offer a full portfolio of GHG14-certified vehicles, available today,” said Sean Waters, director of compliance and regulatory affairs. DTNA makes Freightliner and Western Star Trucks as well as Detroit Diesel engines.

Similarly for Mitsubishi Fuso, another member of the Daimler family, “All trucks we sell in the U.S. do or will meet the emissions standards,” said Todd Bloom, president of Mitsubishi Fuso Truck America Inc.

In March, Cummins, Columbus, Ind., announced that all of its 2013 heavy-duty engines will meet both the emissions and the fuel-consumption standards. “We met the EPA 2010 standard on time and our engines are meeting the 2014 fuel-

efficiency and GHG standards a full year early,” said Cummins spokesman Rich Freeland. Cummins provides medium- and heavy-duty engines to Daimler, Ford Motor Co., Paccar Inc. and Volvo Trucks North America.

The accomplishments are no small feat. The Heavy Duty National Program requires a 6% to 9% reduction from a model-year 2010 baseline in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions for all diesel-powered on-highway vocational vehicles by 2018. Gasoline-powered vocational vehicles must achieve a 5% reduction in both emissions and fuel consumption in the same time period. Vocational vehicles include dump trucks, utility service trucks and refuse haulers, among others. 

Individual standards are listed for each of three categories of vocational vehicles (light-heavy, medium-heavy and heavy-heavy). The rule specifies light-heavy as vehicles in Classes 2b through 5. Medium-heavy vehicles are defined as those in Classes 6 and 7, and heavy-heavy vehicles as those in Class 8. Emission standards for nitrous oxide and methane also are specified.

Manufacturers must meet the emissions rules beginning with their 2014 models. But compliance with the fuel consumption standards is voluntary until production of model-year 2017 vehicles.

That’s good news for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). David McKenna, director of powertrain sales and marketing at Mack Trucks, said Mack is well positioned to meet the standards. “We are confident that the first round of targets can be met through the strategic deployment of existing technology,” McKenna said. “The vocational classifications allow for the use of low-rolling-resistance tires and innovative technologies to meet 2014. [But] achieving the 2017 standards will likely require engine-related technologies such as waste-heat recovery that are not part of our current commercial product offering.”

“The regulations assume that [OEMs] have a compliant engine, so all we need for 2014 is compliant tires,” said Cortney Guzlas, chief engineer, greenhouse gases, at Navistar Inc., Lisle, Ill.

Tony Cook, director of technical relations, added, “The biggest difference between Navistar’s 2013 and 2014 model-year vocational trucks is likely to be EPA certification that our engines are greenhouse-gas-standard compliant.”

Fuel standards for 2017 vocational trucks, on the other hand, “are designed to be technology-forcing,” said Guzlas. Waste-heat recovery and other technologies “will have to be added incrementally to vehicles in the future,” she said, “and every OEM will look at those requirements differently.”

Despite those challenges, Cook said Navistar is on board with the direction taken by the new standards. “We had the same goal of improving our fuel economy that this regulation speaks to,” he said. “Now it’s just a matter of addressing better fuel economy across our product lines.”

Peterbilt spokeswoman Cara West confirmed that Peterbilt’s medium-duty vocational trucks will also meet the 2014 emissions standards, but did not give a time frame. Ford spokesman Mike Levine said Ford will “meet the 2014 GHG standards for HD diesel trucks in model years 2013 and 2014.”

At 408 pages, the standards are complex and something of a hybrid. The emissions component was developed by the EPA, while the fuel-consumption standards were developed by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Input from truck and engine manufacturers, fleet owners, the state of California, American Trucking Associations and environmental groups also was used to develop both standards, which were issued jointly by the federal agencies and became law Nov. 14, 2011 (Light & Medium Truck, September 2011, p. 8).

The rules address vehicles that carry passengers as well as freight. Thus, two types of metrics are used with the understanding that moving heavier loads burns more fuel and emits more CO2 than moving lighter loads. Vocational vehicles and tractor-trailers must meet a gram-per-ton-mile standard, while commercial vans and heavy-duty pickups must meet a gram-per-mile standard that is payload-dependent. Translating the required savings into more easily understood miles per gallon is difficult — and since compliance with fuel-consumption standards is still four years off, estimated miles-per-gallon savings are not yet available.

The standards cover complete vehicles. But EPA and NHTSA acknowledge in the regulation that vocational vehicles “undergo a complex build process, with an incomplete chassis often built with an engine and transmission purchased from different manufacturers, which is then sold to a body manufacturer.” Thus, achieving the standards for vocational vehicles is limited to engine improvements and tire technologies for reduced rolling resistance.

To that end, Cummins is using “the same base engines and emissions architecture of its 2010 engines to meet the 2014 requirements,” said Freeland. “Base engine improvements reduce the parasitic load on the engine,” Freeland said, through high-efficiency systems that pump water, fuel and lubrication.

DTNA will meet the new GHG14 standards for vocational vehicles “by demonstrating its input factor values for calculations such as tire rolling resistance [by] calculating and certifying CO2 emissions for every vehicle, and ensuring its fleets meet CO2 emission limits,” Waters said. He was less specific about how the manufacturer will meet fuel-consumption requirements. “DTNA offers customers the choice of engines from one of the most fuel-efficient portfolios in the market,” he said. “[We are] committed to drive innovation through research and development in order to provide customers with the most fuel-efficient vehicles possible.”

OEMs can use off-the-shelf technologies to meet all aspects of the standards. But those using advanced technologies such as diesel-electric hybrid and heat-waste recovery systems will receive 1.5 credits for every system used. Credits also will be awarded for alternative-fuel vehicles by converting CO2 emissions measured for the GHG standards to fuel consumption measured for the regulation’s fuel standards. Manufacturers then can apply the credits toward any heavy-duty on-road vehicles that do not meet the standards.

NHTSA and EPA estimate that the rules could save an average of one gallon of fuel for every 100 miles traveled. Language in the ruling itself says that trucks and buses built in 2014 through 2018 “will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse-gas pollution by approximately 270 million metric tons.” Also in the ruling: notice that “a second phase of regulations is planned for model years beyond 2018.”

Analysis performed by NHTSA suggests that overall, the 2014-2018 standards will cost the heavy-duty industry approximately $7.7 billion, adding an average of $6,200 to the price of each new truck. Break-out pricing for specific heavy-duty categories was not given.

NHTSA also estimates that payback for the majority of vehicles affected will occur in one to two years. For those traveling fewer annual miles, such as many vocational trucks, NHTSA estimates payback in roughly four to five years. The standards are designed to be met over the lifetime of the vehicles, set at 10 years.

Among severe-duty fleets, major refuse haulers may feel the least effect. Of more than 18,000 Class 8 vocational vehicles in its fleet, Waste Management Inc., Houston, has more than 1,400 trucks powered by natural gas. Company spokesman Wes Muir said the firm is “committed to transitioning our diesel fleet to compressed natural gas,” and that 80% of all new trucks purchased in 2012 and the next five years will be powered by CNG.

“For every truck we replace with natural gas, we reduce our use of diesel fuel by an average of 8,000 gallons per year,” said Muir. Also gone, according to Muir: 22 metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions per truck per year.

Waste Management has been working to lower fleet fuel consumption and emissions for a long time. The company began using natural-gas-powered vehicles in the 1990s and in 2009 built with industrial gas supplier Linde North America the world’s largest plant to date that converts landfill gas to liquefied natural gas. The facility produces 13,000 gallons of LNG daily, Muir said, which is used by the fleet’s 900 natural-gas-powered trucks in California.

Waste Management also has piloted hybrid vehicles, but not successfully. “Significant weight increases due to current hybrid technology remains a challenge,” said Muir. “Due to the weight increase, waste collection vehicles haul less refuse per truck, and fuel consumption and emissions per ton of refuse rise.” So committed to natural gas is the company that it operates 28 CNG fueling stations in North America—“and we intend to have nearly 50 in operation by the end of 2012,” said Muir.

Peg Mulloy, a spokeswoman for Re-public Services Inc. — a national waste management firm based in Phoenix — said  that the company has more than 1,000 alternative-fuel vehicles in its fleet, including 700 trucks that use CNG.

“At our current rate of conversion, we plan to have more than 3,100 trucks nationwide running on natural gas and other alternative fuels by the end of 2015,” Mulloy said. Republic Services also is constructing natural-gas fueling stations in Idaho, California, and Washington, she added.

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