Will Big Truck MPG Rules Save Fleets Money?

by | Aug 18, 2015

Semi-truckCompanies that operate fleets of vehicles will save money if higher US fuel-economy requirements for medium- and heavy-trucks are put in place, according to a report from the clean transportation organization CALSTART.

The report comes as the EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hold hearings on proposed new mileage and greenhouse gas emissions standards for trucks.

The report looked at increasing fuel economy by up to 40 percent over 1990 levels for medium and heavy-duty trucks by 2025 — in most cases a more ambitious target than EPA and NHTSA are now discussing. It found different payback periods for different classes of trucks, but viable business cases.

For example, long-distance big rigs can travel 125,000 miles a year. The study found switching to more fuel-efficient trucks could save up to $20,000 per year per truck, with a payback period for the extra investment in more fuel-efficient technology of as little as nine months

The study found utility trucks could see fuel cost savings of up to $9,000 per year per truck, and that some fuel-saving technologies — including plug-in hybrids and engine configurations that allow for “engine-off” mode while driving — could deliver payback within 3.5 years.

The most common fleet trucks — gasoline pick-up trucks and cargo vans — could see fuel cost savings of $1,600 per year per vehicle, with a break-even point for extra money spent on a more efficient vehicle of 1.3 years.

As part of the report, CALSTART surveyed fleets on higher fuel economy standards for trucks, to see what the people think. The survey found:

  • 87 percent of fleet operators would support regulations that call for higher fuel economy.
  • 86 percent said the upfront cost of a new vehicle is the biggest concern when making a purchasing decision.
  • 89 percent said they would be willing to pay a higher upfront cost as long as there will be cost savings over the life of the vehicle.

CALSTART, a national organization whose members include 150 firms, fleets and agencies, commissioned the report to find out whether more aggressive fuel economy standards would help or hurt fleet-based businesses’ bottom lines. CALSTART worked with NAFA member fleets to validate key metrics and develop models.

Photo Credit: semi-truck via Shutterstock


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