Standing in front of a fuel efficient “Super Truck” yesterday, President Obama made good on his State of Union promise to set new fuel economy standards for heavy trucks. That Super Truck is part of a Department of Energy competition to spur manufacturers to create more efficient heavy trucks, which haul 70% of U.S. freight and, despite representing only 4% of vehicles on the highway, are responsible for 20% of carbon pollution from vehicle emissions in the United States. President Obama announced that Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy will lead the process of drafting new heavy truck fuel economy standards by March of 2015, with a final rule coming a year later.
The goal of a nationwide heavy truck fleet in the vein of the “Super Truck” — 75% more efficient than the current fleet average – would deliver significant emissions reductions and savings in oil use. As the President said, that is a “win-win-win,” for the planet and for the companies and consumers that will pay less in fuel costs and for the consumer goods shipped across America in heavy trucks.
President Obama pointed to the progress and partnerships already underway, such as the 23 heavy truck fleets that are part of the “National Clean Fleets Project,” including competitors like UPS and FedEx and PepsiCo and Coca-Cola. Safeway is a leader in pushing for greater heavy truck efficiency and hosted the President’s speech on the new standards at one of their distribution facilities in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The U.S. government is also investing in research and partnering with industry to find next generation fuel economy gains and providing subsidies for clean fuel producers and distributors, President Obama said.
At the state and federal level, across administrations, the United States has long been a leader in fuel economy standards. It’ll be exciting to see heavy truck manufacturers and fleets respond to this new initiative, which holds the promise of cutting carbon emissions, reducing oil use, delivering consumer savings, and boosting innovation.