Ready-mix trucks may fall under a new guideline that would consider total pay-load, not just miles per gallon.

Decreasing emissions

These technologies are right around the corner. Some are purely developmental at this time, but stimulated by government regulation, they could possibly enter production by 2018. That half-yard per load would decrease emissions and increase fuel economy by 5 percent on a ton-mile basis. That's one-quarter of the way to the 20 percent goal.

Unlike emissions standards which are pegged to power generation regardless of vocation, EPA and NHTSA recognize application differences between various classes and uses of commercial vehicles. Accordingly, they developed 10 regulatory classes separate and distinct from DOT weight classes:

  • Class 1: Class 8 (more than 33,000 pounds) combination (tractor-trailer) with high roof sleeper cab.
  • Class 2: Class 8 combination with mid-roof sleeper cab.
  • Class 3: Class 8 combination with low roof sleeper cab.
  • Class 4: Class 8 combination with high roof day cab.
  • Class 5: Class 8 combination with low/mid roof day cab.
  • Class 6: Class 7 combination with high roof day cab.
  • Class 7: Class 7 combination with mid/low roof day cab.
  • Class 8: Class 8 (heavy heavy-duty) vocational truck.
  • Class 9: Class 6 and 7 (medium heavy-duty) vocational truck.
  • Class 10: Classes 2b to 5 (light heavy-duty) vocational truck.

The first seven EPA chassis involve freight delivery and over-the road trucking. The last three, the vocational classes, include ready-mix trucks, pumps, and fleet utility and service vehicles. Long distance delivery of precast concrete products and bridge trusses could fall into either Class 5 or Class 8.

Details will be released this summer, but EPA envisions the greenhouse gas ton-mile reductions in 2014 to be realized through the application of existing technologies. For 2018, they see the requirements as “technology forcing.” Industry's innovation and creativity in developing lighter-weight materials, waste heat recovery and new fuels should get us to EPA's and NHTSA's goals.

Examples already under development are electric and hydraulic hybrids, capturing waste exhaust heat to drive turbines, harnessing turbine-electric power to supplement mechanical propulsion, and developing and commercializing diesel derived from algae, which consumes CO2 in order to grow, as a replacement for petro-diesel.

While some will be naturally skeptical of such a program, including ton-miles in payload calculations alters the balance in favor of truck users.

Paul Abelson, writes the regular Fleet Factors column for TCP. He is on the Board of Truckwriters of North America.

To read the entire regulatory announcement (pdf).