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Better fuel efficiency for trucks mandated

New US standards take effect in 2014

By Darlene Superville
Associated Press / August 10, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Fire trucks and concrete mixers, semis, heavy-duty pickups, and all trucks in between will, for the first time, have to trim fuel consumption and emissions of heat-trapping gases under new efficiency standards unveiled yesterday by President Obama.

The White House said the standards will save businesses billions of dollars in fuel costs, help reduce oil consumption, and cut air pollution. The standards apply to vehicle model years 2014 to 2018.

Three categories of vehicles are affected. Big rigs or semis will have to slash fuel consumption and production of heat-trapping gases by up to 23 percent. Gasoline-powered heavy-duty pickups and vans must cut consumption by 10 percent, or by 15 percent for vehicles using diesel fuel.

The standards also prescribe a 9 percent reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for work trucks, which include everything from fire trucks and concrete mixers to garbage trucks and buses.

In a statement, Obama said people who build, buy, and drive medium and heavy-duty trucks support the new standards.

Obama had planned to unveil the standards at a trucking business in Virginia. But the trip was canceled without explanation and Obama met at the White House with industry officials.

The White House projected savings of 530 million barrels of oil and $50 billion in fuel costs over the lives of the vehicles covered by the new standards, along with improved air quality and public health.

The administration released no miles-per-gallon equivalent for the new standards, saying that to do so would be confusing given the many categories of vehicles, the different types of vehicles in each category, and the varying payloads that each type carries.

Officials said the cost of making trucks more efficient will be recouped by reduced fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles.

It was the second round of fuel efficiency standards Obama has announced in the past month. In July, the president announced a deal with automakers to double overall fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, starting in model year 2017.