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August 31, 2016

Volume 17 Issue 52

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EPA Phase 2 Tightens Standards for Trucks

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly adopted a second round of standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will cut carbon pollution and improve fuel efficiency, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation. The new rulemaking was issued Aug. 16, and addresses trucks made from model years 2021 to 2027.

According to the EPA, the Phase 2 standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Depending on fuel prices, they could also save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels.

The technology behind the Phase 2 program goes beyond Phase 1, relying on both currently available technologies and projected technologies that are not yet in widespread use, such as anticipated engine and driveline improvements.

The EPA notes that these performance-based standards offer a number of technological paths to compliance and were developed through a broad assessment of advanced technologies and interaction with stakeholders.

The phase-in is slated to begin in model year 2021, accelerate in 2024, and run through model year 2027 and beyond. Additionally, first-time greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for trailers will start in 2018 for EPA and in 2021 for NHTSA. The extended phase-in and incremental increases in difficulty should give the industry time to confirm that products are reliable and durable, and provide long-term regulatory confidence.

The lubricants industry is closely evaluating the likely impact for engine oils, transmission and transaxle lubricants, but some already foresee the Phase 2 standards touching off an immediate push to upgrade heavy-duty engine oils – despite the fact that the newest HDEO category, API CK-4 and FA-4, already is teed up for a Dec. 1 launch.

The new oil categories took over five years to develop, beginning in June 2011, when the Engine and Truck Manufacturers Association requested the upgrade from the American Petroleum Institute. If further advances are required by the 2021 model year, there’s only a scant five-year window to develop and implement the subsequent upgrade, sources involved in creating API CK-4 reminded Lube Report.

Some predict the next category proposal may include a test for abrasive wear, such as the Detroit Diesel DD-13 test which was not included in CK-4. The OEM liaison for a major oil company, speaking not for attribution, thinks diesel manufacturers may take the opportunity to develop a fired engine test to measure the oil’s contribution to fuel economy, as seen with light-duty engine oil categories.

Photo: Wabash National, L.P.

A Wabash National trailer uses DuraPlate AeroSkirt technology for improved aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. Under a final rule issued Aug. 16 by the Environment Protection Agency and the National Highway Safety Administration, first-time greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for trailers will start in 2018 for EPA and in 2021 for NHTSA.

Meanwhile, the EPA is projecting that each step of the Phase 2 program will provide fuel savings that more than offset the additional costs, with reasonable payback periods for truck owners. In fact, EPA is confident that the buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 could save the extra cost of the technology in under two years simply through fuel savings.

EPA’s analysis suggests that there would be additional benefit to consumers and businesses through cost reductions for transporting goods. By its estimate, the program will result in up to $230 billion in net benefits to society over the 20-to-30-year lifetime of vehicles sold under the program. This includes fuel savings, carbon reductions, health benefits, energy security benefits, along with travel benefits as well as refueling benefits.

The Phase 2 standards are fully aligned between EPA and NHTSA, and the agencies have worked closely with the California Air Resources Board to create a program that the state agency can adopt, resulting in a truly national program that will allow manufacturers to continue to build a single fleet of vehicles and engines for the U.S. market. 

Support for the new regulations was voiced by a wide variety of stakeholders:

CARB’s chairwoman, Mary Nichols, said she supports the rule, even though it does not include provisions for tightening standards on nitrogen oxide compounds, or NOx. "We are pleased to see that EPA increased its emphasis on advanced technologies that can help reduce the impact of diesel particulate in our communities as well."

Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, believes that clean truck standards are positive steps towards addressing climate change, reducing oil use and improving the economy.

The Natural Resources Defense Council called it a “win-win for businesses and our climate,” saying the Phase 2 rulemaking saves money, encourages innovation, and reduces carbon emissions.

Wabash National’s Commercial Trailer Products group is the leading producer of semi-trailers in North America. Dick Giromini, president and CEO of Wabash National, notes that, “Our goal in this process was to work collaboratively with the agencies to simplify compliance while maximizing environmental benefits and overall cost savings for the fleets. I think we’ve achieved that.” 

Craig Arnold, chairman and CEO of transmission builder Eaton Corp., said, “Eaton recognizes the importance of providing environmentally responsible solutions, so we are pleased with the new Phase 2 standards for medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles which will deliver significant fuel consumption and emissions reductions.”

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger commented, “When we design and manufacture these products, we work to ensure everything we do leads to a cleaner, healthier, safer environment."