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Project Title:

Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles
PIN: BEES-J-08-03-A        

Major Unit:

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences
Transportation Research Board

Sub Unit: DEPS Board on Energy & Environmental Systems
Studies and Information Services

RSO: Brown, Duncan

Subject/Focus Area:

Project Scope
The committee will conduct an assessment of fuel economy technologies for medium and heavy-duty vehicles. According to the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, Section 108, the study is to develop a report evaluating medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fuel economy standards. Based on the language in Section 108, the NRC committee formed to carry out this study will address the following tasks, all of which will be discussed with the DOT/NHTSA representatives, as well as any relevant Congressional staff, at the committee's first meeting. The purpose of these discussions will bring the benefit of the expertise of the committee to bear on what information and data could be made available to the committee, which will determine the extent to which the tasks can be addressed. Thus, the committee will:

(1) consider appropriate approaches to measuring fuel economy for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that would be required for setting standards. Given the diversity of vehicles and applications, consideration of classification of vehicles will likely be required in this review. In addition, the committee will likely have to work with DOT/NHTSA, EPA, and others, as appropriate, to identify a reasonable approach, which would then lay the basis for what technologies to consider for potential improved fuel economy. As part of its considerations, the committee will comment on what might be an appropriate metric for a fuel economy standard or a fuel efficiency measure (e.g., miles per gallon or ton-miles per gallon or other measures); how might an appropriate baseline be defined for estimating improvements; what kinds of test cycles would be appropriate; and what kinds of testing facilities exist, or would be needed, to evaluate fuel economy. The committee is not asked to provide a standard but to give guidance to NHTSA, who will have to follow-up the committee's report with their own proposals for what should be done.
(2) assess current and potential technologies and estimate improvements in fuel economy for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks that might be achieved. As part of its assessment the committee will also include "work" trucks, namely, those in the 8,500 to 10,000 lb weight range. The committee will need to decide what time frame is appropriate to consider for the technology assessment. In addition, the committee should try to estimate the costs of technologies for fuel economy improvements. Costs may be difficult to estimate given the proprietary nature of the business and an approach may need to be worked out with NHTSA/DOT and the industry to collect information that would provide the committee with enough confidence in estimating a range of costs.
(3) address how the technologies identified in Task 2 above may be used practically to improve medium-duty and heavy-duty truck fuel economy. This will likely entail a discussion by the committee of barriers, time frames, competitive pressures, and other factors that may inhibit or accelerate the adoption of technologies for improved fuel economy.;
(4) address how such technologies may be practically integrated into the medium-duty and heavy-duty truck manufacturing process. Again, the committee will likely identify barriers, timing, economics, competitive pressures, and other factors, that may inhibit or accelerate the practical implementation into the manufacturing of the various vehicles under consideration.
(5) assess how such technologies may be used to meet fuel economy standards to be prescribed under section 32902(k) of title 49, United States Code, as amended by this subtitle;
(6) discuss the pros and cons of approaches to improving the fuel efficiency of moving goods as opposed to setting vehicle fuel economy standards; and
(7) identify the potential costs and other impacts on the operation of medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks. For those technologies that can be integrated into the design of engines, vehicles and trailers, it is likely that the committee would focus on any incremental costs and whether there are any special requirements for these technologies that might affect operation of such vehicles. The language in Section 108 refers to "congestion" as well. It is anticipated that the committee would review any studies conducted on this subject to address this congestion issue and address the opportunities for technological improvements noted in the above tasks in the context of a broader program to reduce fuel consumption in the trucking sector.
(8) write a report documenting its conclusions and recommendations.

The study has assumed and budgeted for analyses by consultants to help the committee address its tasks. Specifically, what consultants will do directly for the committee, or whether the committee will request the sponsor (DOT/NHTSA) to undertake some analyses (perhaps in concert with other agencies such as EPA or DOE), will be determined during the course of the study.

Thus, the committee faces the challenges, in parallel with its technical analysis, to provide guidance to NHTSA on designing a standard that (1) Is at least as effective and efficient as the market in encouraging motor carrier fuel economy; (2) Identifies and accounts for market barriers that may exist to adoption of fuel efficient technologies; (3) Accounts for the importance of fuel efficiency in the context of freight movement; and (4) Does not worsen congestion or safety.

Update 12-19-08:

The project is sponsored by NHTSA.

The approximate start date for the project is September 19, 2008.

A report will be issued at the end of the project -- expected in March 2010.

Project Duration: 16 months    

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Contact the Public Access Records Office to make an inquiry, request a list of the public access file materials, or obtain a copy of the materials found in the file.

Committee Membership
Committee Membership

 Meeting 1 - 12/04/2008
 Meeting 2 - 02/04/2009
 Meeting 3 - 04/07/2009
 Meeting 4 - 04/08/2009
 Meeting 5 - 05/04/2009
 Meeting 6 - 05/07/2009
 Meeting 7 - 05/13/2009
 Meeting 8 - 05/14/2009
 Meeting 9 - 05/15/2009
 Meeting 10 - 06/09/2009
 Meeting 11 - 06/18/2009
 Meeting 12 - 07/22/2009
 Meeting 13 - 08/06/2009
 Meeting 14 - 08/11/2009
 Meeting 15 - 08/12/2009
 Meeting 16 - 09/23/2009
 Meeting 17 - 10/15/2009
 Meeting 18 - 10/22/2009
 Meeting 19 - 11/05/2009
 Meeting 20 - 01/11/2010


Reports having no URL can be seen
at the Public Access Records Office
Assessment of Fuel Economy Technologies for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Vehicles