Reading the Green Like a Pro—Heavy Duty Truck GHG Phase 2 Mandates Can Help You Ace It!

August 26, 2015 |

Fran FlynnBy Fran Flynn, special to The Digest

On the putting green, the golfer who putts last has the advantage of watching his predecessor ‘show him the line. There is valuable information to be gleaned if his attention is focused on the details. For example, he can determine many uncontrollable factors such as speed, slope, and other essential characteristics of the green that influence the direction and speed of the ball. If he is smart, he will keenly focus on these details to determine a strategy for his successful stroke.

On June 19, 2015 the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, Anthony R. Foxx, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, signed the 629 page proposed Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards (Phase 2 of the Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles Truck initiative) for publication in the Federal Register.

It establishes a comprehensive technology advancing program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel consumption for new on-road heavy-duty vehicles that will strengthen Phase 1 mandates and extend emissions reduction standards through model year 2027.

Much like the golfer who has the benefit of ‘factoring in’ his predecessor results, it is equally beneficial to have someone ‘show you the line’ on GHG Phase 2. Transportation managers can learn valuable strategies from the early technology adopters who embraced GHG Phase 1.

According to the North American Council on Freight Efficiency (NACFE), fleets that participated in their 2015 Annual Fleet Fuel Study are saving $9,000 per vehicle per year in fuel expense by incorporating technologies that are currently available (up from $4,400 per vehicle per year in 2011). Proficient fleet managers are establishing best practices using these technologies and are reducing their GHG emissions in direct proportion to the adopted technologies.

Likewise, these fleets are increasing fuel efficiency in direct proportion to their GHG emissions reduction. Since its inception in 2008, Fleet Advantage has tracked millions of miles of fleet operating data from private fleets across the US. The data logged from Class 8 truck fuel studies calculates a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in fuel efficiency at approximately 2.5% since model year 2010 (pre-Phase 1).

The 2.5 % CAGR is confirmed when the calculation is applied to Phase 1 model years 2014-2016 (latest model in service and reporting) and is projected to remain constant for the remaining model years in Phase 1 as well as for model years 2018 through 2027 (Phase 2). This is good news for transportation fleets, especially considering that OEM’s are consistently exceeding the Phase 1 mandates and are expected to continue to do so through Phase 2

Fleets that fine-tune their engine settings according to the truck’s duty cycle have increased their fuel CAGR even greater. A variance analysis indicates as much as .4 MPG improvement over [control group] trucks of the same make, model year and duty cycle using factory settings.

There are numerous technologies driving these efficiency gains that are positioning the industry on the precipice of exciting and transformational change. Seldom does a mandate benefit all stakeholders or address all three legs of the sustainability stool. The social benefits are obvious, considering that reduced emissions result in dramatic savings in health care costs, and although climate change is a subject of debate, policy makers believe that reducing CO2 is an environmentally sound strategy.

Equally beneficial for transportation fleets are the financial savings: reducing the total cost of operations and allowing a rapid return on investment. To take full advantage of Phase 2 benefits, fleet managers can be equipped with the operational knowledge of experienced users of the new technologies and their capability to calculate each truck’s ‘tipping point’— the point in time when the savings in fuel and maintenance costs make it more cost effective to acquire a new truck, rather than continue to inefficiently run an old one.

Aside from the driver, the cost of fuel is the single largest expense of operating a fleet and the new mandates will deliver considerable fuel savings. When it comes to Phase 2, don’t end up in a bunker. Get a grip on your expenses and put yourself in a position to ace it!

About The Author: Fran Flynn is the Vice President of Sustainability, Marketing and Community Relations for Fleet Advantage, a leading innovator in truck fleet business analytics, equipment financing and lifecycle cost management. 

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