Task force eyes advanced truck support

| January 27, 2011

Calstart announced Jan. 26 that a task force of more than 40 truck industry leaders from fleets, the manufacturing sector and suppliers called for performance-based incentives and policies to accelerate American leadership in the global advanced truck market. Calstart said its recommendations are part of a report called “Speeding High-Efficiency Truck Adoption.”

The top measures called for include:
• A voucher purchase program for high-efficiency heavy-duty trucks that rewards technologies that provide multiple benefits;
• Expanded research and development funding targeted at efficient truck technologies; and
• Grants to support expanded domestic manufacturing of advanced trucks and components.

Calstart said it convened the task force to identify key user and industry needs and help develop the recommendations contained in the report. The critical supporting policies and incentives are designed to ensure that new truck fuel economy and carbon emissions regulations proposed by the federal government have the best chance of transforming the trucking sector. Calstart said task force members support the new regulations, but felt the regulations alone were not sufficient.

“High efficiency trucks are a win-win not only for the people that produce and use these trucks, but for our nation overall,” said John Boesel, Calstart president and chief executive officer. “Ultimately, the truck industry and fleets want to see a transition toward more efficient trucks, but to get there, they need support from a comprehensive policy package that includes both carrots and sticks.”

Calstart said upfront technology cost is the largest barrier to faster adoption of more efficient technology and identified several strategies to improve the economics and speed the transition to more efficient trucks. Primary among the recommendations is an incentive structure for accelerating clean truck purchases – a “next generation” voucher incentive program that is performance-based, with greater funding going to solutions that provide greater overall benefits. The idea is that the incentive levels partially should reward users for the multiple benefits provided by different advanced technologies, including air quality improvement, petroleum reduction and climate change.

The Calstart report also highlights a need for substantial research and development funding for advanced truck technologies. Calstart said fleets, manufacturers and suppliers in the task force all identified ongoing R&D funding as a key industry need.

Finally, Calstart said the report recommends grants as a key way to support domestic manufacturing of advanced trucks and truck technologies. Passenger car manufacturers have access to this support through the federal Advanced Vehicle Technology Manufacturing Incentive Program, and the report recommends expanding this program to include medium- and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturing. Calstart said the task force members believe this would support the growth of the domestic high-efficiency truck industry while reducing costs and supporting the transition to cleaner trucks.