One of Walmart's efficient trucks

Proposed standards to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of new heavy-duty vehicles promises a leaner, greener road freight industry for the US.

The “phase 2” changes proposed by the US Environmental Protection Agency and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are expected to reduce fuel costs and carbon emissions by 20-30 per cent in heavy duty vehicles (based on 2010 figures), with the deployment of new truck technologies delivering fuel savings that greatly exceed upfront costs.

According to our recent article, there is also a demand for greener freight in Australia, however efficiency gains are being made though shifting modes from road and air to train and sea, with vehicle fuel efficiency standards lagging compared to international efforts.

The push for fuel efficiency in the US is being spearheaded by business. Sustainability website GreenBiz says some of the US’s largest businesses are already making big gains on efficiency, though regulation is needed to capture the rest of the market.

Walmart, for example, has increased its fleet operational efficiency by more than 80 per cent and has noted that truck fuel efficiency could present “key opportunities to improve efficiency across the industry in a coordinated, responsible and safe way”.

FedEx, which has the second-largest fleet for hire, has almost met its goal of a 30 per cent increase in vehicle fuel efficiency (now at 29.5 per cent) on 2005 levels, and is behind strong phase 2 fuel efficiency standards.

Pepsi has reduced fuel use by 24 per cent since 2010, and is actively supporting increased fuel efficiency standards, with PepsiCo Chairman Indra Nooyi recently saying “strong new truck fuel-economy standards will keep America moving in the right direction” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.

The EPA and NHTSA are taking comments on the proposed changes until 11 September 2015.

Read the full GreenBiz story.