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Posts from December 0

Regs for Rigs: Update, EPA’s Diesel Truck Fuel Economy Standards

By <a class="post-author" href="/about#mlewis">Marlo Lewis</a> -- December 28, 2010

In two recent posts (here and here), I examined EPA’s and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) rationale for establishing first-ever fuel-economy standards for trucks. Today’s post provides additional evidence that what the agencies call the trucking industry’s “under-investment” in fuel-saving technology is an unintended (although not unforseen) consequence of EPA’s ever-tightening diesel-engine emission standards. The declining fuel economy of 18-wheelers is a case of government failure, not market failure. Conveniently, EPA’s role in holding back heavy-truck fuel economy is never discussed in the agencies’ proposed rule.

The trucking industry is highly competitive, profit-margins are thin, and fuel is the single biggest operating expense. Consequently, truckers, especially those who haul freight long distances in “combination tractors” (semis), have a strong incentive to purchase vehicles incorporating cost-effective improvements in fuel economy. …