Republican Senators urge EPA to pursue consumer-friendly emissions standards

Trucking news and briefs for Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022:

Group of senators urge EPA to make next emissions regs consumer-friendly

As the Environmental Protection Agency has mulled over the next phase of greenhouse gas emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and 16 other senators sent a letter to the EPA last month urging the agency to ensure a pending nitrogen oxide emissions rule is technologically achievable and affordable. 

"We urge EPA to utilize the achievable and customer-acceptable 'Option 2' and to consider any new CMV GHG mandates in a separate Phase 3 rulemaking," the letter said. 

Issued in March, the EPA's rule includes two options for reducing nitrogen oxide emissions. The first option aims to reduce the emissions by 90% by 2031. Option 2, which the letter supports, would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% for 2027 and later. A final ruling is expected by the end of the year.

Option 1 would potentially raise the price of heavy-duty diesel trucks by an average of $42,000 as well as increase operating costs and likely cause a pre-buy, no-buy scenario that would harm the market, according to the American Truck Dealers (ATD) group. 

[Related: EPA proposes new emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks]

"The trucking industry has already prioritized healthier communities by deploying newer, cleaner and safer CMVs," the senators’ letter added. "'Option 1' would place that priority at risk, along with thousands of well-paying jobs" across the nation.

ATD believed Option 2 would ensure CMV affordability and allow for increased fleet turnover with newer trucks that could achieve dramatic emissions reductions. 

"With 50% of commercial vehicles on today's roads operating without the latest emissions control technologies, we need emissions standards that are viable for our industry," ATD Chairman Scott McCandless said. "A model year 1990 truck emits more NOx in one year than a new modern truck generates over a 30-year period. If truck buyers are deterred from purchasing new trucks due to increased costs and new, untested technology, these older trucks will stay on the road much longer." 

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[Related: Admission of emissions anxiety: A look at roadside testing, now and into the future

Navistar, TuSimple part ways amid federal investigation into TuSimple

TuSimple and Navistar are ending their autonomous truck co-development partnership after just two years, the companies said in a joint announcement Monday. However, the decision to end the development agreement does not preclude the companies from working together in the future.

The two companies had planned to co-develop a Level 4 autonomous truck and enter production by 2024 prior to dissolving their relationship. Navistar Vice President Srinivas Gowda said the company continues to believe autonomous driving technologies will be a key component of a future transportation and logistics system, "and is committed to the development of a safe and efficient autonomous driving solution."

TuSimple has been embattled recently as CEO Xiaodi Hou was deposed in October and replaced by former CEO Cheng Lu, who previously led the company as CEO from September 2020 to March 2022. 

Hou was fired after a report from the Wall Street Journal alleged TuSimple was being investigated by the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commission on Foreign Investment about its ties with Hydron, an autonomous startup founded by TuSimple co-founder Mo Chen earlier this year. A TuSimple filing with the SEC said it believed Hydron “has significant operations in China,” and that a number of its employees spent paid hours working on matters for Hydron.

"I decided to return as TuSimple's CEO to address the challenges ahead and to set us on a path to long term stability," Cheng Lu said. "We have proven our technology works, and I'm committed to addressing the concerns of stakeholders. I firmly believe in this company and its ability to improve the safety and efficiency of the trucking industry through world-class autonomous driving technology."

Navistar in July 2020 took a minority stake in TuSimple, and two months later, Traton, the commercial truck arm of Volkswagen and Navistar parent, did the same.

[Related: Autonomous truck crash draws federal attention

Nearly 26,000 Navistar trucks, buses recalled over lock nuts

Navistar is recalling approximately 25,822 trucks and buses because the hex flange lock nuts, used in the suspension and steering joints in the affected units, were improperly heat treated and may break, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration documents.

On the trucks side, affected trucks include model year 2021-2022 International CV Class 4/5 trucks, 2022-2023 International HV severe-duty trucks, 2023 International HX severe-duty trucks, 2023 International LoneStar, 2023 International LT, 2023 International MV medium-duty trucks, and 2023 International RH regional trucks.

The recall states that broken hex flange lock nuts may cause a loss of tension, leading to steering instability, and increasing the risk of a crash.

Dealers will replace the hex flange lock nuts as necessary, free of charge. Owner notification letters are expected to be mailed Jan. 20, 2023. Owners can contact Navistar's customer service at 1-800-448-7825 with recall number 22524. NHTSA’s recall number is 22V-869.

New loyalty-rewards program from Trucker Tools

Trucker Tools has recently launched a new Driver Loyalty Program, where driver/owner-operator users can earn rewards by taking certain actions on loads most are already doing every day.

Broker Simple Logistics is the first Trucker Tools partner brokerage to participate in the program -- rewards are now available for actions taken on loads hauled for Simple that are booked with the "Book It Now" option in the Trucker Tools app, are on-time, with tracking enabled from beginning to end, or with Proofs of Delivery uploaded through the Trucker Tools Scan Docs feature in its app.

By completing any of the actions the app user receives TruckerPoints, which can be redeemed for gift cards to more than 200 of the most popular U.S. retailers.