(Corrects spelling of Volvo executive’s name in the sixth
paragraph of story published June 11.)
(Bloomberg) — The Obama administration is poised to
deliver a victory to engine makers at the expense of truck
manufacturers in the next stage of the U.S. government’s plan to
tackle climate change.
The Environmental Protection Agency is about to propose
fuel economy standards that would mandate efficiency gains in
engines and transmissions made by companies like Cummins Inc.
and Eaton Corp., according to executives who have been in
discussions with the regulator.
That will encourage the development of new technology, and
the replacement of engines.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Mihai Dorobantu, Eaton’s
director of technology planning and government affairs. “It’s
an opportunity for advanced technology to contribute both to the
economics of the sector and the environment in which we all
Truckmakers had pushed for eliminating the engine target
and just testing the whole vehicle the way automobiles are
assessed. That way, fuel consumption targets could be met with
less expensive changes, such as improved aerodynamics.
“An overly stringent engine standard could force the
introduction of technologies and design changes prematurely,
resulting in added costs, weight, vehicle complexity and,
ultimately, potentially delaying customer adoption,” said Steve
Berry, director of regulatory affairs for Volvo AB’s North
Environmental groups are pushing President Barack Obama to
deliver fuel-economy improvements of 40 percent from 2010
levels, something they say is both technologically feasible and
long overdue because tractor-trailers average 6 miles per gallon
of diesel. That change alone could cut U.S. oil use by 1.4
million barrels a day and eliminate more than twice the
greenhouse gases as New Jersey emits each year, according to the
An EPA spokeswoman, Liz Purchia, declined to comment on the
agency’s plans ahead of the release of the trucking proposal,
which industry representatives said they expect this month. The
Obama administration will then accept public comment before
issuing a final regulation next year.
One of the key decisions for the EPA and the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration is how to measure gains
from the engine and the overall vehicle. Under the proposal
nearing release, engines will be tested the same way emissions
are measured. Vehicles will be measured by using a computer
model instead of the dynamometers used to test cars.
That approach is also supported by Cummins, said Brian
Mormino, the company’s executive director for worldwide
environmental strategy and compliance.
The EPA will also be proposing a third set of standards for
trailers, whose boxy design has been largely unchanged for
Trucks account for 4 percent of vehicles on the road and 20
percent of the transport sector’s carbon emissions. Setting
tougher rules is necessary if the U.S. will achieve the cuts in
carbon emissions Obama pledged in United Nations climate
negotiations, the World Resources Institute said in a report
“This is a very significant segment of our economy that
needs to come under the climate plan the president is putting
together,” said Margo Oge, former director of the EPA’s office
of transportation and air quality. “It’s a big deal to have a
standard that pushes innovation and reins in fuel consumption.”
Daimler Trucks North America LLC has warned regulators
against engine standards that aren’t aligned with real-world
operations, Sean Waters, director of product compliance and
regulatory affairs, said in a statement.
The company, which makes Freightliner trucks, is still
“optimistic the final rule will be consistent with our goals of
providing real-world fuel economy benefits that reduce the real
cost of ownership for our customers,” Waters said.
The rules will represent the second time in history that
U.S. regulators will propose efficiency standards for the more
than 7 million tractor trailers and other kinds of heavy-duty
trucks that haul most of the nation’s goods.
Waste Management Inc., which has a fleet of 18,500 garbage
and collection vehicles, is part of a group of companies helping
the EPA develop the standards. Most of the new trucks the
company is buying run on natural gas, which cuts greenhouse-gas
emissions by 20 percent over diesel, said Kerry Kelly, senior
director for federal affairs.
“It’s been a good process so far, and so we feel that
we’ll get to a reasonable rule we can support,” Kelly said.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Jeff Plungis in Washington at
Mark Drajem in Washington at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Jon Morgan at