“The challenge is to create a market pull, not a push”

    Since 2014, the US has the world’s toughest legislation for C02 emissions from heavy-duty vehicles. In 2021, an even stricter law will be enforced. Marc Miller, Regulation Specialist at Volvo Trucks N.A., discusses regulations and their impact on the introduction of new technology.

    Agencies in charge of the US GHG (greenhouse gases) rules:

    • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
    • U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

    Phase I GHG (2014-2020) For the Phase I GHG rule the engine and vehicle were regulated separately and the vehicle’s performance was simulated using the EPA’s default engine. Tractors were measured against aerodynamic performance, tire rolling resistance, tamper-resistant idle shutdown, vehicle speed limiters, and specific weight reduction features. Vocational vehicles were only credited for tire rolling resistance.

    Phase II GHG (2021-2029) Phase II will still have a separate engine standard, but the vehicle simulation includes the actual powertrain to more accurately predict the net efficiency gain of combined technologies. Additional features will also be credited for both tractors and vocational vehicles, such as tire pressure monitoring, automatic tire inflation, engine stop-start operation, and high-efficiency auxiliaries.

    What effects has the 2014 CO2 legislation had on the emissions of greenhouse gases?

    “The US Phase I greenhouse gas rule focused primarily on increasing market penetration of existing technologies. In reality, the market growth of the credited greenhouse gas and fuel economy features was mostly organic, being driven by market forces such as high fuel prices and a slowed economy as much as by regulation. However, the one area that did gain increased visibility with heavy-truck OEMs and customers was tire rolling resistance, which saw a reduction trend that would have otherwise likely not occurred at the same pace.” 

    Why an even stricter law and what are the main targets?

    “By significantly reducing carbon emissions and improving fuel efficiency, the transport sector can help to address climate change and energy security issues. With the Phase II rule, the EPA and NHTSA are looking towards a more holistic approach of regulating emissions of heavy duty vehicles. They also intend to push technologies that are unproven (e.g. waste heat recovery), have limited market interest (e.g. hybridization), or do not yet exist (e.g. heavy-heavy duty engine start-stop). Fortunately, once the standards are set, we’re free to develop whatever technologies we choose to comply. ” 

    What are the main challenges?

    “Since we are operating in a free-market economy, the driver for change must be the consumer. Until that time we will only be pushing technologies on the market without regards to true feasibility and commercial viability. One example is the expected penetration rates of hybrid technologies in heavy-duty applications. Volvo Trucks has run many hybrid pilot programs with significant efficiency gains, yet unacceptable from a total cost of ownership standpoint. However, the Phase II proposed rule assumes a high percentage of hybrid sales when setting the vehicle efficiency standards.”

    How does the transport sector prepare for the introduction of new technologies?

    “All manufacturers are currently evaluating technologies in the pipeline that will allow for a path to compliance while still maintaining flexibility to meet the needs of each customer’s specific application. At Volvo Trucks we have always taken a complete vehicle approach and therefore look at all potential engine, vehicle, and soft offer technologies to be able to provide the most cost effective solutions to our customers.” 

    What do you believe are the major drivers of change?

    “In my view we need to make sure that we develop regulations that provide meaningful emissions reductions without unintended consequences. This seems quite simple, but what is required is a regulation that creates a market pull, not a push. Volvo Trucks is currently working together with the EPA to assure that vehicles are segmented properly into regulatory groups and that those groups are measured against realistic duty cycles. This in order to avoid forcing any technology into applications in which they will not provide a lower total cost of operation for the customer. We know we cannot push our customers to accept new technologies if they are too expensive and less robust.” 

    Text Linda Thomsen Högfeldt  Photo Bert VanderVeen

    Other, Trucks & technology, Industry update, Environment, Fuel Management Services, Other
    Emissions legislation, CO2, environment, US, Volvo Group North America, Marc Miller