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How to save 2 million barrels of oil per day


June 12, 2014 - 8:35am
By Siddiq Khan, Senior Researcher

In 2011, the EPA and NHTSA adopted the first-ever fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and engines built for the 2014 to 2018 model years. Those standards, although not demanding enough to promote adoption of all available efficiency technologies, will benefit truckers and consumers and save over a half-million barrels of oil per day by 2030. The agencies are now working to extend this landmark program beyond 2018.

This presents an opportunity to make further progress in saving oil and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by promoting additional fuel-saving technologies. A fact sheet released jointly today by ACEEE and four other groups shows that, by 2025, standards could achieve a reduction in average new truck fuel consumption of at least 40 percent from 2010 levels. This reduction would yield oil savings of 1.4 million barrels of oil per day in 2035, and two million barrels per day in 2040. To put that huge savings into perspective: The U.S. currently imports 2.1 million barrels per day from the Persian Gulf countries.

A broad range of engine, vehicle, and trailer technologies would contribute to reaching the 40% target. Many of these technologies are already being used in fleets, are demonstrated in DOE’s SuperTruck program, or are in the production pipeline. It is important that the standards treat vehicles as integrated systems, rather than a collection of components. That in turn would help to promote development of advanced transmissions, trailer improvements, and integrated vehicle and powertrain strategies.

These technologies are cost-effective. A new tractor-trailer, which typically is driven more than 150,000 miles per year and will stay on the road for fifteen years, will cost about $32,000 more with the added technologies, but will save an average of about $30,000 in fuel costs in its first year of operation. The payback period for some more specialized truck types will be longer, but average payback will be under two years.