White House Sets New Efficiency Targets for Large Trucks That Have “Very Aggressive Support” From Industry

Some of the largest trucks on the road are set to get a serious make-over.

Yesterday, the Obama Administration announced new fuel standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks, buses and pickups that will improve efficiency of the nation’s fleet of big trucks, vans and buses by up to 20 percent through 2018. The range of vehicles covered by the standards make up only 4 percent of America’s vehicle fleet, but represent around 20 percent of national fuel use.

The White House estimates the industry will save $50 billion in fuel costs and reduce consumption of 530 million barrels of oil by the time the targets are fully reached, while costing about $8 billion to implement. Long-haul trucks will save about 4 gallons of fuel for every 100 traveled, which could add up to about tens of thousands of dollars in savings for semi-truck drivers over the life of a vehicle.

Conservatives are already jumping on Obama for the standards, however. Writing on his blog, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lamented the plan, saying that it would “further tie the hands of job creators and add yet another hurdle to getting the economy up and running.”


But that first “hurdle,” which doesn’t begin until 2014, could lead to 40,000 new jobs over 6 years due to increased manufacturing activity as automakers ramp up new models to meet the rules, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The Heritage Foundation, which believes drilling for more oil and getting rid of efficiency standards is the answer to the nation’s energy problems, described the standards as “focus-group tested” and encouraged “onshore and offshore access, as well as access to oil shale reserves.”

Never mind that the original law mandating the increase in efficiency for heavy-duty trucks was passed in 2007 under the Bush Administration. If by “focus group tested,” Heritage means auto manufacturers that support the standards, then yes, it was well tested. Reuters is reporting that the standards have “very aggressive support” from producers of heavy-duty autos.

The new standards were announced just two weeks after historic fuel standards for light automobiles that will increase the average mileage of the nation’s fleet to 54.5 mpg, up from 27.3 mpg today — saving consumers over $1.5 trillion and reducing gas consumption by 44 billion gallons through 2030.