Feds eye improved heavy-truck fuel targets with proposed standards
By Avery Vise
Proposed federal standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy for heavy-duty trucks announced Oct. 25 would reduce CO2 emissions and fuel consumption 20 percent by the 2018 model year.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate 7 percent to 20 percent fuel efficiency gains over model years beginning in 2014. At a press conference announcing the proposed standards, a senior EPA official said an owner-operator could pay for technology upgrades in a new heavy-duty truck within a year and save up to $74,000 over the truck’s useful life. Less fuel-efficient trucks would require longer payback periods of up to four to five years.
“Dealers support improving fuel economy for medium and heavy-duty trucks,” said Kyle Treadway, chairman of the American Truck Dealers and owner of Kenworth Sales Co. “However, today’s fuel-economy proposal for model years 2014-18 is expected to add thousands of dollars to the cost per truck. We are concerned that this could price some buyers out of the market.”
The federal agencies estimate the heavy-duty national program could provide $41 billion in net benefits to the economy over 2014-2018. A 60-day comment period begins after the proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register.
The EPA official said the new proposed standards will encourage entrepreneurs and manufacturers to develop new technology and materials to meet the fuel-efficiency targets. Lower fuel costs also will come from improvements to engines, tires, truck aerodynamics and less idling, the administrator said.
Despite those assurances, at least one truck OEM is wary of the impact of the proposed standards. At a recent American Trucking Associations meeting, Bill Kozek, general manager of Kenworth Truck Co., said truck buyers will have fewer spec’ing options. Truck makers will have to shift even more of their product line to aerodynamic styling and eliminate exterior options that produce drag, meaning the days of the long-hood conventional — at least in over-the-road applications — may be numbered, he said. “These regulations will be the death of the W900L,” Kozek said at the ATA meeting.
ATA’s board of directors backed the national fuel economy standard for trucks as a means of reducing carbon emissions as opposed to less attractive alternatives, such as mandating use of alternative fuels.
Truck and engine suppliers are concerned about several elements of the proposed federal standard. For example, several are opposed to the notion that the engine and vehicle are regulated separately and favor a total vehicle standard. Moreover, there is no credit given for engine downsizing, noted Anthony Greszler, vice president of government and industry relations for Volvo Powertrain North America.
Another flaw in the government’s approach is that it fails to take into account the fuel-saving potential from powertrain integration and automated transmissions, said Martin Daum, president of Daimler Trucks North America. “I personally would prefer a free market solution where we fight for fuel economy,” Daum said.
ATA’s energy policy offers a framework for assessing carbon reduction proposals that might come from Congress or the Obama administration. Any federally mandated carbon control program applied to transportation fuels likely will increase the cost of fossil fuels, ATA says. But the program should minimize disruptions to the transportation of goods and protect the viability of the trucking industry. In addition to focusing on truck fuel standards, ATA’s new energy policy calls for a carbon control program that:
• Produces cost-effective, verifiable carbon reductions;
• Ensures that revenue generated from motor carriers and other highway transportation consumers benefits highway users;
• Ensures that any increased costs are reasonable, predictable and do not increase the volatility of fuel prices;
• Avoids diesel fuel supply disruptions and ensure that only on-road diesel fuel that meets the ASTM standard for which trucks were designed to run on is sold in the marketplace;
• Maintains a level playing field among freight transportation modes; and
• Provides incentives for improved fuel efficiency and availability of alternative technologies.
More than two years ago, ATA unveiled an environmental sustainability plan that included support of “technologically feasible” national fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Other elements of that proposal to reduce trucking’s carbon footprint include:
• Federal laws requiring trucks to have speed governors set at 65 mph or below and a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles;
• Allowing more productive truck weights and combinations;
• Expansion of the EPA SmartWay Transportation program;
• Reducing idling by updating the interstate system and reducing traffic congestion; and
• Using new technologies to reduce other engine idling.
FYI NEWS BRIEFS
ATA Tonnage Index Increases
The American Trucking Associations announced Oct. 26 its advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1.7 percent in September after falling a revised 2.8 percent in August. Compared with September 2009, adjusted tonnage climbed 5.1 percent, which was well above August’s 2.9 percent year-over-year gain.
TransCore Reports Spot Freight Gains
TransCore said its North American Freight Index increased 65 percent in spot market freight availability in September compared to the previous year. September’s spot freight reached the highest levels for the month since 2005, which was a peak year for spot market volume.
Used Truck Prices Rise
The average retail sales price of Class 8 used vehicles sold in September increased 3 percent from August to $42,100, ACT Research Co. said. ACT also reported the number of units sold declined by 5 percent during the same period as dealers reported a tighter supply of late-model equipment.
DOE Forecasts Higher Fuel Prices
Expect higher diesel fuel prices this year and next year based on the U.S. Department of Energy forecast released Oct. 13. DOE raised its diesel-price forecast for the rest of this year by 3 cents to $2.96 a gallon, and its forecast for 2011 by 4 cents to $3.14. Last year’s average was $2.46 a gallon.
Trailer Orders Surge in September
Commercial trailer net orders in September were more than double from a very weak September 2009 volume. Orders for dry van trailers, the largest segment of commercial trailers, jumped 182 percent year-over-year in September. ACT Research Co. noted that net orders of 13,301 in September were nearly 19 percent above August levels.
Mack Opens New Customer Center
Mack Trucks unveiled its new 159,000-sq.-ft. customer center Oct. 28 near the company’s Macungie, Pa., assembly plant. The center includes the Mack Museum and Heritage Center, filled with Mack vehicles dating back to 1905. The museum’s walls communicate the rich history of the company including the invention of a constant-mesh transmission five years after the company’s start.
Some Va. Interstates Go to 70 MPH
Virginia will post 70 mph speed limits on 61 percent of the state’s rural Interstates by Dec. 31. In March, Gov. Bob McDonnell, who had campaigned for the change, signed two bills into law to hike speeds from 65 to 70 mph on 680 miles of Interstate, following a traffic engineering study.
Daimler, Wal-Mart Team on Hybrid Truck
Daimler Trucks North America and Wal-Mart have teamed to build a hybrid electric truck as part of a collaboration to develop green technologies. Developed for a Wal-Mart spec’d truck, the 72-inch raised roof Detroit Diesel DD15-equipped Freightliner Cascadia features a parallel hybrid system based on an electrically driven second drive axle. It uses lithium-ion-based energy storage and electronic control algorithms that were developed in collaboration with the Daimler Trucks Global Hybrid Center in Japan.
Freightliner to Haul Show Equipment
A 2010 Freightliner M2 106 hybrid dry van will haul equipment for the Discovery Channel’s show “MythBusters,” Daimler Trucks North America announced. The business class hybrid is equipped with selective catalytic reduction emissions technology, an Eaton parallel hybrid-electric drive unit and is compliant with the Environmental Protection Agency’s emission standards.
CSA 2010 Test Results Reported
Jill Dunn and Todd Dills
In a September report to Congress, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the 30-month field test of its Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 yielded positive results. Drivers with companies involved in the testing’s first phase were much more likely to have their day-to-day operations impacted by FMCSA safety enforcement, the agency reported.
Conducted from February through October of 2008 and involving roughly 50 percent of the carrier populations in Colorado, Georgia, Missouri and New Jersey, including independent owner-operators, Phase I of the testing saw nearly 50 percent more test-group carriers impacted by FMCSA than non-test carriers. A large number of CSA 2010-initiated investigations (62 percent), furthermore, resulted in follow-on interventions with the affected carriers to address safety deficiencies, including cooperative safety plans and fines. On 32 percent of non-test carriers were acted upon.
Phase II, begun in October 2008, expanded the testing to incorporate the entirety of the CSA 2010 enforcement methodology, including “driver enforcement for egregious violations,” the agency reported. From June through November of 2009, drivers working for carriers in Minnesota, Montana, Kansas, Maryland and Delaware joined their colleagues in the original test states, the agency reported.
The CSA 2010 Safety Measurement System will deploy this month, replacing SafeStat as the system of record to identify high-risk carriers and form the basis for prioritizing and assigning interventions with safety-deficient carriers – and, during carrier investigations, their drivers and leased owner-operators. Once the SMS is in place, the agency will begin issuing warning letters to carriers nationwide.
Close to half of 5,600 carriers receiving new warning letters in Phase II of CSA 2010 testing logged on to the information system to view their new carrier safety profiles, suggesting, the agency said, that the new regime is making carriers more proactive about safety deficiencies. Test group results suggest the new interventions are having a positive effect on carrier safety, too, the agency said.
Other preliminary findings from Phase II follow:
• 37 percent more carriers were reached in the test group than in the control.
• CSA 2010 tests resulted in a 52 percent increase at the agency in the number of investigations conducted per safety investigator.
• 48 percent of test group investigations included follow-on action, compared to 33 percent in in the control group.
White House Extends HOS Review
The White House Office of Management and Budget has extended its review of the proposed hours-of-service rule, which had been scheduled for publication Nov. 4.
The OMB normally does not provide reasons for extending deliberation and at press time a new deadline for its officials to clear this rule had not been set.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration submitted the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the OMB July 26 and had expected the office to finish its review Oct. 26 The agency had scheduled the NPRM for a Nov. 4 publication date and planned to allow public comment until Jan. 4.
The OMB met Oct. 18 with representatives from the National Retail Federation, National Industrial Transportation League, Waterfront Coalition, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association, American Bakers Association and National Association of Manufacturers. Federal officials did not provide additional meeting information.
A year ago, the FMCSA entered into a settlement agreement to revisit the current rule, issued in 2008, and publish a final rule by July 26, 2011. Public Citizen, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Truck Safety Coalition and the Teamsters union had brought suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which had previously struck down the agency’s 2003 and 2005 versions of HOS.
This 2009 agreement stipulates that if the FMCSA produces a new HOS rule, “substantially different” from the 2008 rule, this may eliminate the need for judicial review of the current regulation.
National Texting Ban Now in Place
The federal ban on texting while driving commercial vehicles was official Oct. 21, adding penalties and sanctions including, for repeat offenders, disqualification from operating vehicles in interstate commerce.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published its final rule Sept. 21, which imposes sanctions for drivers of fines up to $2,750 and for carriers an $11,000 maximum penalty.
A texting conviction is now considered a serious traffic violation. Driver violators can be disqualified for 60 days if convicted of two separate violations in three years and 120 days if convicted of three or more violations in three years.
Texting includes a short message service, emailing, instant messaging, a request to access the Internet or any other form of electronic text retrieval or entry.
However, it does not include:
• Reading, selecting or entering a telephone or extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device to make or receive a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a phone call.
• Inputting, selecting, or reading a global positioning system or navigation system.
• Using fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, CBs or music players.
The agency is considering other distracted driving rules.
The White House Office of Management and Budget received its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to restrict cell phone use while operating commercial vehicles Sept. 16. Its current publication deadline is listed as Dec. 26.
The FMCSA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration are considering restricting use of electronic devices for hazmat drivers, including intrastate.
OOIDA Challenges Recorder Rule
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is legally challenging a regulation that requires carriers with the most serious violations of hours-of-service regulations install electronic onboard recorders.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit registered the suit brought by OOIDA and three of its members against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on June 3. The plaintiffs filed its brief Oct. 7, which asked the court to vacate the EOBR rule and require the agency do further consideration consistent with the court’s findings.
FMCSA spokeswoman Candice Tolliver declined comment on the lawsuit, and the court had given the agency until Nov. 4 to file a reply brief.
Carriers with a 10 percent or greater occurrence of HOS non-compliance in a single compliance review are mandated to have EOBRs for two years. The American Trucking Associations supports this rule, which has a June 4, 2012 deadline.
OOIDA argued it is unproven that the devices can accurately and automatically record a driver’s HOS and duty status. Also, given that truckers use their trucks as their homes on the road, these EOBR requirements violate a driver’s “reasonable expectation of privacy in his truck when he is not working,” the association wrote.
“The real-time, government mandated, 24-hour electronic surveillance of a driver’s location and movements contemplated by the [notice of proposed rulemaking] is an unjustified and dangerous intrusion on drivers’ right of privacy,” OOIDA wrote in its brief.
The association also stated carriers can use the technology to interrupt a driver during an off-duty rest period and pressure him to return to the road to maximize his on-duty time. This could allow the carrier to interfere with the driver’s decision to take a break if time is remaining to drive or work.
On Sept. 29, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) introduced a bill to mandate EOBRs on commercial vehicles. The Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act, or S. 3884, was referred to committee with one co-sponsor.
Hoover Dam Bridge Dedicated
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Thursday, Oct. 14, dedicated the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge at the Hoover Dam. When it opens to traffic next week, it will become the western hemisphere’s longest single-span concrete arch bridge and one of the tallest in the world.
The 1,900-foot-long bridge is part of a $240 million four-lane bypass that will reroute traffic for 3.5 miles from the two-lane bottleneck on U.S. 93 across the Hoover Dam.
Planning for the Hoover Dam Bypass began in the late 1980s, though construction didn’t begin until 2002. Since then, the project, located on the Arizona/Nevada state line about 40 miles east of Las Vegas, has employed more than 1,200 workers, engineers and safety experts. From extreme desert heat for months at a time to high winds, the area’s rugged conditions made the project one of the nation’s most demanding and difficult engineering challenges.
U.S. 93 is a high-priority trade corridor and a central part of the major transportation network in the western United States. Due to increases in commercial freight shipments to and from Southern California, and population booms in Las Vegas and Phoenix, the road over the Hoover Dam progressively became more congested.
Security concerns after 9/11 led authorities to ban commercial trucks from traveling across the Dam, forcing truck drivers on the route to use a 75-mile detour that added cost and delay to businesses and consumers relying on such shipments. The new Hoover Dam Bypass will shorten the route for commercial shippers along this major trade corridor and reduce traffic congestion for all who use it.
Cat to Launch Vocational Trucks
Caterpillar will unveil the first model in its line of Cat vocational trucks, the Cat CT660, at CONEXPO on March 22, 2011.
The Class 8 trucks will be sold and serviced exclusively through the Cat North American Dealer network, with production beginning after CONEXPO for customer delivery later in the year. The trucks are being developed with Navistar International.
Caterpillar says the trucks will focus on a large variety of job applications — from moving rock and hauling trash to logging and pouring concrete.
Before Caterpillar engineers started designing, the company asked vocational truck owners and drivers what they wanted and needed from their trucks. “Our design and manufacturing has been focused squarely on making the customer input we gathered a reality,” said George Taylor, director and general manager of the Cat Global On-Highway Department.
Taylor added, “We coupled customer input with our knowledge learned from years of experience working closely with different industries to meet their heavy equipment needs to identify the ideal standard options for various industry applications.”
Caterpillar will offer the heavy-duty Cat vocational daycab trucks with a full range of engine ratings and torque capability options. The company says the specs include a Cat CT11 engine with ratings from 330 bhp to 390 bhp, a Cat CT13 with ratings from 410 hp to 475 hp and, coming in 2012, a Cat CT15 with ratings from 435 hp to 550 hp.
The Cat CX31 torque converter style automatic transmission, with three standard locations for Rear Power Take Off drive positions, will be an option for Cat vocational trucks. Caterpillar also offers a line of other OEM vocational transmission options, including Eaton manual and automated manual transmissions.
Diesel Price Watch
Prices are the average, self serve, cash at truckstops October 1-31, 2010*
NEW HAMPSHIRE 3.01
NEW JERSEY 2.95
NEW MEXICO 3.02
NEW YORK 3.24
NORTH CAROLINA 2.98
NORTH DAKOTA 3.21
RHODE ISLAND 3.08
SOUTH CAROLINA 2.88
SOUTH DAKOTA 3.00
WEST VIRGINIA 3.14
Source: T-Chek Systems Inc., Eden Prairie, MN.
For more information, (877) SOS-CHEK or www.tchek.com
*Some prices may not include certain state taxes
Port Driver Employee Rule on Hold
A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction preventing the Port of Los Angeles from implementing its driver employee requirement, but allowing enforcement of its off-street parking provision.
On Oct. 25, the American Trucking Associations won its request for the preliminary injunction, pending appeal, regarding the mandate that truckers regularly serving the port be carrier employees, rather than owner-operators.
In granting the injunction, Judge Christina Snyder, for the U.S. Central District of California, said the case “presents serious legal questions concerning the market participant doctrine.” In her Aug. 26 ruling, she concluded federal law allows a market exemption if the port’s actions are considered those of a business proprietor, not as a regulator. She determined the port is a proprietor.
The ATA filed its request for an appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Sept. 16. It argued Snyder had made legal errors, including not permitting discovery and introduction of certain evidence.
Snyder’s Sept. 10 final judgment dissolved the previous preliminary injunction, which had prevented the port from fully enforcing its Clean Truck Program rules.
The Los Angeles Harbor Commission voted Sept. 27 to allow additional time for compliance with the transition to employee drivers, hiring preferences and off-street parking requirements.
Out-of-state and licensed motor carriers not having a concession agreement with the port are permitted up to 24 day passes annually.
Many ports nationwide have said they want to adopt the Los Angeles port model.
Free Webinar: Buying Your First Truck
The largest single expense for any owner-operator is equipment. For a driver who’s becoming an independent contractor, it is very important to make an informed decision when purchasing that first truck. To learn more about making that choice, log in to Truckers News’ Dec. 16 webinar at 8 p.m. (CST), which features Eddie Walker, past president of the Used Truck Association. You can register at www.truckerwebinars.com.
You will learn about:
• Your credit requirements, financial obligations and risks
• What questions you need to ask
• How to select the right truck for your application
• Evaluating available warranties
The free one-hour webinar will be sponsored by Schneider National and Freightliner Trucks.
Charlotte Diesel Super Show to Expand
Thousands of trucking and construction industry visitors gathered at the z-Max Dragway/Charlotte Motor Speedway Oct. 8-9 for the inaugural Charlotte Diesel Super Show.
The show brought together industry personnel and enthusiasts to enjoy industry displays, demonstrations, truck ride and drives, free NASCAR ride-alongs, jet funny cars and truck drag racing.
“We’ve never had so much fun producing an event,” said Alan Sims, vice president/executive director, Randall-Reilly Events Group. “To have such a great turnout, with so many pleased sponsors, participating companies and attendees, was more than we could have imagined for a first-time event.” Randall-Reilly is the publisher of Truckers News and other trucking and construction magazines.
“For our first ever event of this type, I believe we hit a home run,” said Mike Reilly, chairman and CEO.
Next year’s show will expand the diesel truck segment and add a construction pavilion. The 2011 Charlotte Diesel Super Show will be held again in October.
For information on participating: email@example.com.
TCA Now Backs Higher Truck Weights
The Truckload Carriers Association has changed its position on federal maximum truck weights and now supports increasing the allowable weight from 80,000 to 88,000 pounds.
The association amended its weight policy Oct. 16 in favor of supporting the hike on any five-axle tractor-trailer combination, said TCA Chairman John Kaburick.
The association based the decision on a need for increased productivity and to cope with the driver shortage. The 88,000-pound limit is close to the Canadian federal limit, Kaburick said.
The American Trucking Associations and National Private Truck Council, along with the Coalition for Transportation Productivity, are campaigning for increasing truck weight limits on federal interstate highways for trucks equipped with a sixth axle. The change would result in fewer trucks on the road, which would create less emissions and traffic congestion, the advocates said.
Norita Taylor, a spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said OOIDA has remained against increases, and productivity can be improved only if loading and shipping time problems are dealt with.
“Relaxing weight limit restrictions would not address any of the problems cited by proponents,” Taylor said. “The supposed driver shortage is actually a problem of high turnover.”
Maine and Vermont have pilot programs, due to expire in December, that allow trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds to operate on the states’ Interstate Highway System.
Congress received the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2010, or S. 3705, on Aug. 4, which was referred to committee with two co-sponsors. It would allow trucks weighing up to 97,000 pounds to operate on interstate highways if equipped with a sixth axle.
Last year, its companion bill, H.R. 1799, was introduced and referred to committee with 54 co-sponsors.