Photo courtesy Inland Kenworth
The new federal fuel-economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles, which includes most construction trucks, follow new light-vehicle standards announced last month.

The first-ever efficiency and greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty highway vehicles will cost owners $8 billion but save $50 billion in fuel between 2014 and 2018.

In one example, the operator of a semi-truck could pay for the technology upgrades in less than a year, and have net savings up to $73,000 over the truck’s useful life, say the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Dept. of Transportation, which issued the new rules on Aug. 9.

The joint rulemaking follows an announcement last week that increased standards for light-duty vehicles.

“While we were working to improve the efficiency of cars and light-duty trucks, something interesting happened,” said President Barack Obama in a statement. 

“We started getting letters asking that we do the same for medium and heavy-duty trucks. They were from the people who build, buy and drive these trucks.” 

President Obama first announced the effort to issue standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in May 2010. The rules announced Aug. 9 will begin in 2014 and run through 2018. A second phase of regulation is planned for model years beyond 2018.

Under the new national program, trucks, vans and buses built in 2014 through 2018 will reduce oil consumption by a projected 530 million barrels of oil and greenhouse gas emissions by about 270 million metric tons. 

Semi trucks will be required to reduce fuel consumption and GHG emissions by about 20% by 2018, while heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans will be required to reduce consumption and emissions by about 15%.