Environmental regulations are poised to change the future of trucking equipment

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SAN DIEGO — A slew of upcoming environmental regulations are poised to reshape the trucking industry’s equipment market by further reducing engine emissions and encouraging the adoption of zero-emission trucks.

Rules adopted and proposed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and California’s Air Resources Board will require further reductions in nitrogen oxide and greenhouse gas emissions, which could force significant changes to diesel engines.

Meanwhile, CARB’s finalized Advanced Clean Trucks Rule and proposed Advanced Clean Fleets Rule would require increased sales and deployments of zero-emission trucks in California and other states that opt ​​into these standards in the coming years.

Trucking and manufacturing leaders discussed how the industry can prepare for this time of transition during a panel discussion Oct. 23 at the U.S. Trucking Associations Management Conference and Expo.

“We’re really at an inflection point in our industry today,” said Glen Kedzie, ATA’s vice president and energy and environment advisor. “Upcoming EPA and CARB NOx engine emission standards and greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for trucks, the march to zero-emission vehicles, and likely future bans on internal combustion engines have created a new roadmap that we have never seen in our industry.”

The EPA and CARB have passed, or will soon pass, more environmental regulations within 10 years than in the previous 30 years, Kedzie said.

Matthew Spears, global executive director of regulatory affairs at engine maker Cummins Inc., said tighter limits on NOx and other emissions will change the design of diesel engines, which power the vast majority of commercial trucks today.

“It’s going to require new technology, new hardware, new software to comply,” he said. “There is no doubt about it.”

Spears didn’t specify what technology paths Cummins and other engine makers could ultimately follow to meet the tougher emissions standards, but he did point to a demonstration at the Southwest Research Institute that involved a heavily-powered Cummins X15 engine. modified which incorporated cylinder deactivation and a second selective catalytic reduction. system.

“These are the kinds of hardware changes that could happen to you by 2027, but there are other technologies as well,” he said.

At the same time, increasingly stringent greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for commercial trucks in 2024 and 2027 will drive changes in vehicle design.

“You should expect OEMs to work a lot with aerodynamic packages,” says Johan Agebrand of Volvo Trucks North America. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

“You should expect OEMs to work a lot with aerodynamic packages,” said Johan Agebrand, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America.

Other fuel-saving strategies include lower engine speed, in which the engine runs at lower revolutions per minute, as well as more efficient tires and a new move toward automated transmissions, Agebrand said.

Ron Hall, senior vice president of equipment and fuel at CR England, discussed the potential impact of CARB’s Advanced Clean Fleets proposal.

In the very near term, this proposed regulation includes a measure that would prevent fleets from deploying new non-zero-emission vehicles in drayage operations in California beginning January 1, 2024. But establishing an electric fleet and the charging infrastructure to supporting it involves a lot of time and complexity, Hall said.

Room Ron

“I encourage people to start talking to your OEMs soon,” CR,. said the Englishman Ron Hall. (John Sommers II for transport subjects)

As an example, he cited a large operating facility that CR England leases in Southern California. Since this facility is leased rather than owned, the company must coordinate with its landlord to install charging infrastructure.

He also cited potential challenges in securing construction slots for electric trucks.

“From a tractor availability standpoint, there will be a lot of demand,” Hall said. “I encourage people to start talking to your OEMs early.”

Regulations that accelerate the adoption of electric trucks will also have ripple effects on the equipment market, including resale values ​​of non-compliant vehicles.

“A diesel day cab will not retain the same value after these electric vehicle regulations come into effect,” he said.

Salt Lake City-based CR England ranks 29th on Transport Topics’ Top 100 Carriers list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

Dan Porterfield

“You have to start planning ahead. It’s going to happen to us quickly,” said Covenant’s Dan Porterfield.

Dan Porterfield, senior vice president of equipment maintenance and control at Covenant Logistics, also encouraged fleets to start preparing now for the shift to zero-emission vehicles.

“You have to start planning ahead,” he said. “It’s going to happen to us quickly.”

Porterfield highlighted several challenges based on Covenant’s experience with zero-emission vehicles in its fleet.

Besides the limited range and increased weight of battery electric trucks, these vehicles are also very expensive compared to their diesel counterparts, he said. “Our experience is 2.5 to 3 times the price of a diesel tractor.”

He pointed to charging infrastructure as another “major headwind”.

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Despite these obstacles, drivers quickly adopted the technology, Porterfield said. “When you start using these things, drivers love them. They absolutely love them. It’s a better environment for them.

Power and torque are no longer an issue with electric trucks, and the vehicles also offer benefits in terms of driver comfort, he added. “The journey is much quieter. It’s smoother. It’s less stressful. »

Electric trucks also tend to get a lot of positive attention.

“We have drivers who report that every time they pull over someone wants to take a selfie with the truck, so they love that,” Porterfield said.

Meanwhile, shipper customers see electric trucks as an opportunity to advance their environmental sustainability goals, he said. In some cases, shippers are willing to invest their own money to support fleet electrification efforts.

Chattanooga, Tenn., Chattanooga-based Covenant ranks 40th on the TT100 for rental.

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