Truckers, take a moment and enjoy the fact that diesel prices are the lowest they have been in years. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the national average price for a gallon of diesel fuel is $2.327. Let that sink in. Really, enjoy it. Enjoy the fact that every year new gas-saving technologies emerge. Lightweighting, cutting drag, and increasing fuel efficiency for your tractor-trailer can be expensive, yes, but as we approach 2018 when the new Phase 2 EPA and NHTSA emission standards kick in, the economic and ecological benefits will be tremendous, especially for carriers who have been investing in fuel-saving technologies ahead of time. The Phase 2 standards will be fully enacted by 2027, and apply differently for each vehicle type (although gliders will still count as new vehicles). Starting in 2018, the regulations scale up to the final goal. You can find all the primary EPA and NHTSA information on the Phase 2 regulations on the EPA’s website. You can also find the feedback others have already given on the new plan.
The new standards are Model Year (MY) 2017 vehicles, which means carriers can start prepping over the next couple years. By 2027, combination trailers need to be 24% more fuel efficient and reduce CO2 emissions by the same amount and trailers by 8% compared against 2017 models. Vocational vehicles (e.g. buses) and pickup trucks need to be 16% more efficient compared to the Phase 1 EPA standards. It can be done, and to wonderful effect for everyone. While there is the possibility that Phase 2 is going to be tougher to follow through with than initially thought, keeping a fleet up to date is a financially beneficial investment for carrier companies, even on the small scale, whenever the cost is feasible. In some cases, a single aerodynamic improvement can reduce a truck’s fuel consumption by 3% and the upgrade pays for itself in about a year. With bulk deals, the reward is tremendous and portions of the savings can be set aside for the long run, making it easier to buy new trucks or otherwise upgrade your whole fleet.
The EPA presents categories of options for improving fuel economy, things like aerodynamics and low rolling resistance tires. These are not always feasible, but they will become easier to adopt as 2018 approaches. Companies should be able to recoup the costs of fuel-saving truck augmentations with in as much as a few years. Information from even nine years ago is still a great starting point for researching products that will improve your fleet’s efficiency and reduce GHG emissions. Find companies that are near your headquarters, see what kind of deals you can work out, and invest in future improvements what you aren’t passing on to employees. Besides, all these improvements end up as savings for the entire company, meaning higher pay rates married with lower operating costs.
A bit of caution when picking out brands from the SmartWay list: some of these companies are unfamiliar and buying their products demands going through uncomfortable channels, such as EBay.