Monday, August 31, 2015


EPA and NHSTA hold public Workshop to Discuss Phase 2 Engine Standards
EPA held their second hearing on proposed truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions in Long Beach on the 18th of August.  According to many observers the second hearing had the same script as the first with industry calling for a more pragmatic approach while environmentalists and regulators screamed for accelerated standards.

For the end user, many of these standards are so far in the future it is hard to come to a concrete conclusion on how the standards will impact their day to day lives. Since there is only one state with in-use requirements, there is nothing mandating the purchase of the proposed equipment. The main impact for the end user is basically higher costs for equipment combined with promises of fuel savings from regulators.
The public comments were quite heavy on the demonization of the industry. Many accused trucks of causing asthma and cancer, blaming them for the air quality woes plaguing the nation. Here in California, unlike everywhere else, there are in-use requirements for Heavy Duty Engines, so some of the criticisms were a little misplaced.

Outside of a select number of ports in other states, California has gone it alone and directly sought cleanup of the in-use truck fleet. Nevertheless, the public workshop gave an opportunity to anyone who was interested in coming out to air their concerns about the upcoming engine standards.
Unfortunately, what was lost on most of the folks in attendance is that these standards are not a mandate on end users, but are a mandate for engine and equipment manufacturers to meet specific efficiency levels. Some even speculate that with additional requirements, end users would not purchase the new equipment, holding on to older, more polluting trucks for longer.

California wants to see implementation accelerated and to require a more stringent efficiency push out of the engines. Claiming billions of gallons of fuel savings, CARB  is also seeking a stricter NOx standard and has made effort to make sure everyone knows this fact.
The engine only standards that are currently being proposed are leaving the OEM’s in a bind. With the current proposed standards the famed “super truck” wouldn’t even qualify. The industry wants a complete vehicle standard, which looks at the total vehicle package and how the engine operates within the vehicle. This is a pragmatic approach that would allow for standards to be based up on real world applications. The engine only standard looks at how the engine is performing. Either the engine meets the standards as laid out in test procedures or it doesn’t.

In California, the regulatory regime requires several in-use engine standards to be met by the industry. The challenge with new engine standards, beyond the increasing costs, is the possibility of a pre-buy or no buy at all, forcing some states to go the way of California and begin a forced turnover mandate to meet theie air quality goals under the Clean Air Act. 

Regardless, the wheels of the EPA are turning and the industry can expect stricter new engine controls in the very near future. A complete vehicle standard would make the most real world sense but the burning question is whether or not California will seek their own standard or if the feds will bend under pressure from CARB and go with a single low NOx standard for the entire nation. Time will tell. 

Stay Tuned!

Matt Schrap is President of California Fleet Solutions and VP Government Programs for Crossroads Equipment Lease and Finance.