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October 9, 2007 8:40 AM, EDT

CARB Proposes to Mandate Equipment to Make Trucks More Fuel-Efficient by 2010

By Sarah Godfrey, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Oct. 8 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

The California Air Resources Board, in a September staff report, proposed to require Class 8 trucks to be outfitted with fuel-efficiency technologies such as cab fairings, skirts, low-rolling-resistance tires and automatic tire-inflation systems by 2010.

The measure, part of the state’s comprehensive strategy for achieving greenhouse gas reductions, would apply to Class 8 trucks registered in California as well as out-of-state trucks that travel to the state.

The measure also would limit the operation of model-year 2010 and later tractors and trailers to those with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay certification.

CARB approved the measure in June as voluntary but recently sought to reclassify it as a proposed regulation — or “discrete early action,” in the agency’s parlance.

“With all of the discrete early actions, once we’ve reached a decision, we can indeed make these forceable regulations by Jan. 1, 2010,” said Leo Kay, director of communications for CARB.

The trucking industry said it is concerned with the costs associated with bringing vehicles into compliance with SmartWay standards by 2010.

Mike Tunnell, director of environmental affairs for American Trucking Associations said it was too soon to know details of the measure, such as penalties for non-compliance, but he said ATA is tracking the proposal’s progress.

Tunnell estimated that retrofitting tractors and trailers with fuel-efficiency features such as gap fairings, side skirts, trailer tails, low-rolling-resistance tires and automatic tire-inflation systems could cost $12,000 per rig.

Matthew Schrap, manager of environmental affairs for the California Trucking Association, said his organization is committed to working on a “sensible solution” with CARB and would like to explore ways in which the financial effects might be lessened.

CTA said it would like the measure to remain a voluntary early action measure, which it said would allow additional time to determine the most appropriate methods for reducing greenhouse gases.

“Once the regulation is in effect, incentive funding will not be available, so we are anxious to work with [CARB] to work out the finer details,” he said.

Schrap said SmartWay upgrade kits are available, but that CARB “has not identified funding, hasn’t identified which trailers will have upgrade kits involved nor have they identified if there will be an early-action benefit for those who have already installed the technology.”

He said a bill that would have provided low-interest loans to carriers investing in fuel-saving technologies failed to make it through the California state legislature when it was presented two years ago.

CARB said it acknowledges the large upfront cost attached to the technology but believes the eventual fuel savings will lessen the impact of the initial financial burden.

“From our perspective, we feel the trucking industry will see a return on the investment of retrofitting through fuel savings,” Kay told Transport Topics.

Kay also said the board will conduct a study to determine what financial effect the measure might have on the trucking industry.

CARB is scheduled to make a decision on the re-classification of the measure later this month.