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Engine manufacturers want cleaner trucks

Blue truck driving on the road
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We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s push for cleaner air and healthier communities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a major new rulemaking to further reduce commercial vehicle nitrogen oxide (NOx) tailpipe emissions. The Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA) wants to serve as a constructive partner in this important effort.

The stakes are high. The trucks impacted by this rulemaking are responsible for carrying 72 percent of the goods consumed in the United States — and they are also the garbage and recycling trucks, school and city transit buses, cement trucks, electrical utility vehicles, and food and package delivery trucks that serve our communities each and every day.

EMA members recognize the significant economic and social impact of their products and have had a long and successful history of collaborating with EPA to achieve national environmental rules. Claims that our industry is obstructing progress toward clean air goals simply are not true.

In fact, we are at the forefront of urging EPA and the Department of Transportation to reduce the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty engines and commercial vehicles. Most recently, we stood up and defended EPA’s GHG Phase 2 rules when the previous administration attempted to weaken emission standards. We also have been advocating for further nationwide reductions in NOx emissions for years.

These and other actions have resulted in a greater than 98 percent reduction in NOx and particulate matter (PM) emissions from commercial vehicles. That’s an incredible achievement — especially while simultaneously improving fuel efficiency and reducing GHG emissions. 

We’re not done yet.

We fully support EPA’s effort to substantially reduce the remaining 1-2 percent of NOx emissions in a way that is practical and cost-effective. In doing so, we also want to keep our eyes on the prize: eliminating all NOx, PM, and GHG tailpipe emissions.  

EMA members are investing billions of dollars in zero-emission technologies, and we are committed to a zero-emission future for the commercial vehicle industry.

Today, EMA members manufacturing such well-known heavy-duty brands as Freightliner, International, Kenworth, Mack, Peterbilt and Volvo already are producing zero-emission trucks. While that technology is in its infancy, we are in the process of validating its performance in a growing number of applications to ensure our customers’ product demands can be achieved.

However, more R&D must be invested to develop the full range of vehicles required to support our nation’s diverse trucking needs and, critically, the nation must invest in building out the infrastructures needed to support the operation of zero emission vehicles. EPA’srule must not end up diverting critically needed resources away from further zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) development.  

Perhaps most importantly, the success of EPA’srule ultimately will be determined by one thing: fleet turnover.

EPA’s rules only apply to the sale of new engines and vehicles. Almost all (98 percent) U.S. fleet owners are small businesses that operate fleets with 20 or fewer commercial vehicles. Nine out of ten of these fleets (91 percent) operate 6 or fewer trucks. Our customers are sophisticated purchasers who invest capital in new trucks only when those purchases provide a return on investment. In other words, they have slim margins, and they don’t necessarily need to buy new trucks. They can keep their old ones for decades.

Only about 50 percent of the medium- and heavy-duty trucks operating today are vehicles with modern, 98 percent-effective emission control technologies. The other 50 percent of trucks on the road can emit up to 30 times more NOx emissions and 60 times more PM emissions than modern engines. If one of those older trucks stays on the road for just one additional year, it will release more damaging NOx than a modern truck generates over 30 years.

Replacing older truck engines with newer trucks dramatically reduces harmful emissions and is essential to achieving shared goals for cleaner air and healthier communities. Once the rule is final, only new trucks meeting the new standard will be available for purchase. If fleets don’t have confidence in the new trucks’ performance, reliability, and ownership costs, they simply will keep their old trucks longer. That will delay the cleanest technologies from hitting the road and delivering the environmental benefits we want, especially in communities that have historically suffered from the highest levels of air pollution.

We are committed to working with EPA and other stakeholders to assure adoption of a final rule that is appropriately stringent and effective, while also protecting hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs in the trucking industry and ensuring manufacturers can continue to produce the full range of durable, reliable, and affordable products that our customers demand. A poorly designed final rule will cause market disruptions, unintended environmental backsliding, and significant adverse impacts on the economy and jobs.

EPA can and should finalize a single-step, workable final rule that not only achieves clean air goals, but also provides manufacturers, fleet owners, and businesses nationwide the confidence they need to continue their essential work. As EPA works to finalize the rulemaking, EMA and its members stand ready to be a collaborative partner. We are committed to cleaner air and healthier communities in every state in the nation, and we will make every effort to ensure the final NOx rule achieves its goals for the country and every citizen.

Jed Mandel is the president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association.

Tags emissions epa tailpipe emissions rule

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