The Benefits of Stringent Trucking Standards

EDF Staff | July 14, 2014

By: Kate Rack

Strong Truck Standards are a Win-Win

The Obama Administration is developing new fuel economy standards for trucks and last week, Ceres and Environmental Defense Fund hosted a webinar outlining how implementing strong federal standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks would be truly a win-win situation.

Our organizations, along with other leaders, are calling for strong standards that cut fuel consumption by 40%. A recent analysis of such standards shows that they would reduce both greenhouse gas emission levels and expenses to ship goods via freight.

Why make truck efficiency a priority?

Currently in the U.S., the trucking sector is the fastest growing single source of greenhouse gas emissions. U.S. businesses spend $650 billion a year on freight trucking services, which equates to over half a billion tons of GHG emissions. It is essential that as fuel efficiency standards for cars becomes more stringent, trucks follow suit, especially since 70% of tonnage shipped within the U.S is by truck. In particular, retail and consumer products are the largest consumers of trucking in the U.S. Chances are, the computer screen that you are using right now to read this blog post was brought to you on a truck!


Jason Mathers, senior manager with the Corporate Partnerships program at EDF and Carol Lee Rawn who directs the transportation program at Ceres, framed the study around the following two questions:

1. Will strong truck rules raise or lower the cost of owning and operating a truck?
A strong truck rule will lower the cost by $.021/mile by 2040. The rule will deliver yearly savings and the amount saved will increase over time.

2. Will strong truck rules increase or decrease the cost of hiring trucking services?
It is clear that strong truck rules decrease the costs of hiring truck services. Freight shippers will save 7% by 2040 compared to 2010 baseline.

In both instances, the results were overwhelming.  Strong truck rules will make owning and operating a truck cheaper due to reduced fuel costs, and the price of hiring a truck service will be driven down, as well.

Available Technologies

Currently, commercial tractor-trailers get about 6 miles/gallon, but according to Mathers, “we have the technology available to dramatically improve the way we transport freight.” Trucks developed under the DOE SuperTruck program have already been able to raise that to 10.7 miles/gallon. Technologies that are available to boost truck efficiency include trailer aerodynamics, such as truck skirts and boat tails, improved transmissions, advanced engine designs, such as waste-heat recovery, and single-wide, low rolling resistance tires.

What can you do to help?

To learn more about how your company can support a strong truck rule and/or request a briefing about the cost-per mile implications of a bold standard and the technology pathways available to achieve the bold target, please contact Jason.

The Ceres and EDF analysis on the financial implications of a strong truck rule are available online.