August 9th, 2011
01:14 PM ET
This morning President Obama held a closed-door meeting at the White House with officials from the heavy-vehicle industry as a way to announce new fuel efficiency standards for trucks, buses and other heavy-duty vehicles built in model years 2014 through 2018. Representatives from the trucking industry, as well as truck and engine manufacturers were in attendance.
The private meeting was set up after the White House hastily canceled a more public announcement scheduled to take place today at a moving company in Springfield, Virginia.
While the specific fuel targets differ depending on vehicle type, all new models will be required to reduce fuel consumption by at least 10 percent and in some cases as much as 20 percent. The White House estimates that over the course of the program these reductions will reduce overall oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels and greenhouse gas emissions by roughly 270 million metric tons.
Designed in consultation with industry representatives, the new rules are also expected to generate significant cost savings for heavy-vehicle operators.
“In our operations fuel is either the number one or number two expense for everyone who moves freight in this country,” said American Trucking Associations President & CEO Bill Graves following his meeting with the president. “We believe that there’s a return on investment in this rule for our fleets in that over the course of perhaps 18 to 24 months they’re going to recover whatever costs are associated with this new fuel-efficient equipment.”
That return on investment could come even sooner depending on the price of fuel, Graves added later. Administration estimates placed the overall savings at approximately $50 million over the life of the program, and after initial upgrade costs are paid off, savings to individual truck operators could be as great as $73,000 over the course of a truck’s service.
Today’s announcement comes less than two weeks after the Obama Administration announced new standards to reduce fuel consumption in cars and light-duty trucks.
“We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks,” said President Obama in a statement released after the meeting. “They were from the people who build, buy, and drive these trucks. And today, I’m proud to have the support of these companies as we announce the first-ever national policy to increase fuel efficiency and decrease greenhouse gas pollution from medium-and heavy-duty trucks.”