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Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces New Actions to Spur Innovation and Promote More Efficient Cars and Trucks

August 16, 2016

Heavy duty vehicles account for more than 20 percent of carbon pollution from transportation and without additional action, the amount of emissions is expected to grow. That is why, in the first term, President Obama worked with the trucking industry to put in place the first-ever national policy to increase fuel economy and decrease carbon pollution for Model Years 2014 – 2018 medium- and heavy duty vehicles, while making historic investments to boost innovation in new technologies.

Today, we are taking the next step and finalizing common sense rules that will improve fuel economy and ensure that America sets the global standard for innovative medium- and heavy- duty vehicles for the next decade. To continue to accelerate the development of innovative technologies, we are also announcing $140 million in new investments for the next generation of fuel efficient trucks and other vehicles. These actions will give our trucks and manufacturers a competitive edge and, over the lifetime of the vehicles sold through the program, will reduce approximately 1.1 billion tons of carbon emissions that harm our environment and our health. This reduction is the equivalent of taking nearly all the cars in the United States off the road for a year. And by lowering fuel costs and reducing shipping costs, these actions will help Americans save money on the products we buy.


Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will jointly adopt a second round of standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will cut carbon pollution and improve fuel efficiency, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation. These ambitious and achievable standards, which represent a strengthening of the first standards, will promote a new generation of cleaner, more fuel efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development and deployment of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through Model Year 2027. When fully implemented, the standards will cut approximately 1.1 billion tons of carbon pollution, save vehicle owners nearly $170 billion in fuel costs, and reduce oil consumption by up to 84 billion gallons.

The program, which EPA and DOT worked closely with the California Air Resource Board to finalize, includes carbon and fuel efficiency standards for certain trailers used with heavy-duty combination tractors for the first time; creates certainty by creating standards that increase over a period of 10 years; allows manufacturers to achieve the standards through a mix of different technologies; yields fuel savings that more than offset the costs and have favorable payback periods for truck owners; encourages manufacturers to continue to build a single fleet of vehicles and engines for the entire U.S. market; establishes complete vehicle standards and enhanced test procedures that incentivize holistic technology approaches for further real world improvements; and improves the agencies' ability to measure industry's performance and enforce compliance drawing from extensive data and stakeholder feedback related to actual vehicle performance. Additionally, based on input and technical data received during the public comment period, the final program achieves 10 percent more carbon emission and fuel consumption reductions than the proposed standards. The program achieves these benefits through:

•      Requiring up to 25 percent lower carbon emissions and fuel consumption for tractors used in combination tractor-trailer vehicles, delivery trucks, school buses, and other vocational vehicles, compared to the Administration's first round of standards for Model Years 2014 - 2018;

•      Locking in standards for heavy duty pickup trucks and vans to become 2.5 percent more efficient annually between Model Years 2021 and 2027;

•      Establishing first time standards for certain trailers used with combination tractors that will cut carbon emissions and fuel consumption by up to 9 percent; and

•      Finalizing diesel engine standards that will reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption by up to 5 percent for tractor engines and up to 4 percent for vocational engines compared to the first round of standards.


In line with the President's commitment to increase investment in clean energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D), today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is investing nearly $140 million to improve vehicle and truck efficiency. DOE plans to invest $80 million in funding to develop the next generation of fuel efficient truck technologies. DOE will also invest $57 million in new projects to develop and deploy a wide array of cutting-edge light duty vehicle technologies.

Supporting Industry in Developing Technologies to Improve the Efficiency of Our Trucks: In 2010, DOE launched the SuperTruck Initiative, supported by historic investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, to develop and demonstrate technologies to improve truck freight efficiency by 50 percent. Four competitively-selected teams accepted the challenge – three of those teams have exceeded the 50 percent goal and the fourth team is on track to exceed the target this year. In fact, more than 20 SuperTruck technologies, including advances in aerodynamics and engine/drivetrain integration have reached the commercial market, and more than 25 additional innovations are expected to be commercialized in the next 2-4 years. Building on the success of SuperTruck I, today, DOE is announcing plans to invest up to $80 million, in four new multi-year industry-led SuperTruck II projects to accelerate the development of technologies that can more than double the efficiency of trucks that deliver goods across America.

Building Cleaner Cars, SUVs, Pickups and Minivans: Since President Obama took office, DOE's investments have already helped reduce the high-volume modeled cost of advanced batteries by more than 70 percent. To build on this progress, DOE will invest nearly $60 million in 35 new, cost-shared projects to accelerate the development of technologies for the next-generation plug-in electric and fuel efficient cars, SUVs, pickups, and minivans. These investments in advanced batteries and electric drive systems, stronger and more durable lightweight materials, and more efficient engines will help save consumers money and reduce both carbon emissions and petroleum consumption.

Building on Progress

When President Obama took office, the fuel efficiency standards of our cars and trucks were stuck in the past. With fewer fuel efficient vehicles, American's were paying more for less at the pump, automakers were in crisis, and dangerous carbon pollution from cars and trucks continued to rise. Today, car manufacturers are improving fuel economy and reducing dangerous emissions at lower costs than was widely thought possible just a few years ago, and the number of electric vehicles models available has grown from one to more than 25 models made by 17 major automotive brands. Large trucking fleets across the country are getting cleaner too. The Obama Administration's National Clean Fleets Partnership, which works with large private fleet owners to cut their petroleum use, has had impressive impacts nationwide. In 2015 alone, the partners saved more than 150 million gasoline gallon equivalents of petroleum and averted more than 369,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Continuing to move the United States to a cleaner transportation system will require decades of dedicated RD&D of advanced technologies – a sustained investment that is consistent with the President's announcement of Mission Innovation alongside more than 20 other nations last year. The actions the Administration is taking today set us on a path toward achieving this goal and moving us towards a lower-carbon transportation system.

Barack Obama, Fact Sheet: Obama Administration Announces New Actions to Spur Innovation and Promote More Efficient Cars and Trucks Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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