The Union of Concerned Scientists and CALSTART published a report last week noting environmental and economic benefits in increasing fuel efficiency in trucks. The report entitled Delivering Jobs: The Economic Costs and Benefits of Improving Heavy Duty Vehicle Fuel Economy notes that 100 billion gallons of fuel would be saved by 2030 with higher fuel efficiency in heavy-duty trucks. Researchers also found the potential for 124,000 new jobs by 2030 if medium and heavy-duty trucks were made more fuel efficient. This document also projects potential fuel savings of $24 billion by 2030 based on a $3.50 per gallon gas price.
Medium and heavy-duty trucks may only be 4% of vehicles on U.S. roads but they consume 20% of gasoline and diesel used in road transportation. Delivery and trucking companies use more than 22 billion gallons of fuel per year, representing the largest amount used for road travel. The report indicates that an increase of 3.7 miles per gallon would lead to an 11 billion gallon per year decrease in fuel consumption by 2030. According to the report’s authors, it is possible to increase fuel efficiency by up to 100% within the next seven years. These fuel efficiency gains would come from improved cabin design, low resistance tires, better engines and regenerative braking.
The economic benefits of improved fuel economy in trucks may be more attractive to legislators, operators and consumers. Tractor-trailer owners could save up to $120,000 in fuel savings per vehicle by 2030 with greater fuel efficiency. Package delivery firms would save up to $26,000 per truck over 12 years by reducing fuel consumption using existing technology. The report notes that the biggest winners in terms of job growth would be Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states where the auto industry already has infrastructure. CALSTART and the Union of Concerned Scientists project that the investment costs of improving heavy-duty truck efficiency could be as low as $13.4 billion by 2030.
This report coincides with the Obama Administration’s efforts to establish fuel economy standards for heavy-duty trucks. Delivering Jobs also dovetails with recent public outrage with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the report, four times more oil would be saved by 2030 using current technology than would be extracted through new offshore oil drilling in the same period. The projections made by CALSTART and the Union of Concerned Scientists may be brought to fruition through a combination of new technologies and public will to make the economy more environmentally sustainable.