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May 29, 2015 9:00 AM, EDT

Peterbilt Concerned About Federal GHG Requirements

T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg News

DENTON, Texas — Peterbilt Motors Co. is eager to see how the upcoming second phase of federal greenhouse-gas regulation will tell truck makers how to score the carbon dioxide emissions from their vehicles.

Since January 2014, manufacturers have had to file reports on emissions by truck model, which collectively must fit under an aggregate limit. The proposed new rule, expected sometime in June, will probably make the task more difficult, said Peterbilt Marketing Director Todd Acker.

“There will probably be a lot more inputs on what is scored. We need to know what data to collect,” Acker said here May 28 at the company’s Technology Showcase event for reporters and editors.

“There are six inputs now, and this could go to 12 to 15 inputs,” he said of the not-yet-unveiled proposal. To control CO2 emissions, the government is trying to push manufacturers to sell models that are especially fuel efficient.

Darrin Siver, general manager of Peterbilt Motors Co.

Executives for Peterbilt, a division of Paccar Inc., discussed the role of technology in their trucks, ranging from telematics to keep vehicles well-maintained to fuel-saving devices and futuristic bio-monitoring that could one day sense muscle tension in a driver and then automatically adjust his or her seat.

Darrin Siver, the company’s general manager, said engineers are also working on autonomous trucks, including platooning, where a convoy of trucks cruises down the highway in a very tight line so as to save on fuel by lowering wind resistance.

Siver said the company will demonstrate autonomous truck technologies May 29 at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Another approach to fuel is the company’s predictive cruise control system, developed by Paccar. Available this summer, it uses GPS to remember road elevation and plot an engine and transmission strategy for getting the truck up a hill and then down with using the least amount of fuel.

Although diesel fuel is much cheaper than a year ago, Assistant General Manager Robert Woodall said the company is still selling natural gas trucks, especially with the 12-liter Cummins Westport engine.

Woodall said CNG, compressed natural gas, is more popular than the liquefied fuel. CNG truck buyers are largely convinced the current low prices are only a temporary reprieve.

“Everyone knows diesel prices are going back up. They’re not buying CNG for right now. They’re looking at the longer term,” Woodall said.