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Will the trucks of the future be streamlined to save fuel?

Today, the White House announced new fuel economy standards for large trucks and buses. So what kind of mileage will they be required to get?

It’s a bit more complicated than the CAFE standards for cars and light trucks, which are based on EPA estimated mileage for each model of vehicle. For big trucks, mileage can vary dramatically depending on how heavy the truck’s load is.

So the Department of Transportation uses a formula based on fuel consumption and carbon emissions per ton-mile. The specifics are laid out in a fact sheet released today.

But generally, the rules require a reduction of 20 percent in fuel consumption. An over-the-road truck averages around 5 to 7 mpg, according to various online sources, a 20 percent improvement from 5 mpg is 6 mpg. It doesn’t sound very significant, but the White House estimates the rules will save $50 billion in fuel costs over the life of the program.

The rules, incidentally, are backed by the American Trucking Associations, the industry’s largest trade group. In a news release, ATA president Bill Graves urges the government to go a step further and return to a 65 mph speed limit.

Photo by Alden Jewell via Creative Commons

Ken Paulman

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.