As the global demand for freight transport continues to grow, improving the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) is an increasingly important step to mitigate the resulting climate impacts, according to the Global Fuel Economy Initiative (GFEI). In a new working paper, GFEI investigated the potential for new HDVs such as freight-hauling tractor-trailers and rigid delivery trucks to improve in efficiency with the adoption of known efficiency technologies.
The study developed a baseline tractor-trailer and a representative rigid delivery truck for the 2015 EU, U.S., Brazil, India, and China fleets. These two truck categories account for the vast majority of road freight oil use and climate emissions. The baseline fuel consumption was determined over region-specific duty cycles and payloads. Technology packages were then established that represent the most advanced applicable technologies that have been either commercialized or demonstrated to be commercially available in the 2030 timeframe, according to GFEI.
The phase-in of the technology packages into world truck markets was modeled over the 2020 through 2040 timeframe in order to determine the potential for improvement in each market. Three possible emission and fuel consumption reduction scenarios were developed to quantify the range of possible benefits over time. The figure below illustrates how full deployment of heavy-duty vehicle (HDV) efficiency technology, as analyzed here, would result in energy savings of close to 9 million barrels of oil per day in the year 2035.
According to GFEI, this would be equivalent to almost 2 billion tons of CO2 emissions avoided per year in 2035. China and India each represent about 25% of these potential long-term oil savings and climate benefits due to their growing freight activity. These two markets are followed by the U.S., Europe, and Brazil in terms of having the most potential energy and carbon savings from realizing their technology potential. The remaining potential is divided among countries in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America as well as smaller individual markets.
GFEI notes the most consistent result is that losses from engine inefficiencies are always greater than 50% of total energy loss.
“Although there exist theoretical limits to internal combustion engine efficiency, this result indicates that technologies to improve engine efficiency would have wide-ranging applicability across segments and markets. It also shows that there is potential for fuel consumption reduction in the range of 40%-52% for tractor-trailers and 30%-36% for rigid delivery trucks across all regions assessed, with trucks sold in the EU having the smallest potential and trucks sold in India having the largest potential in both segments.”
GFEI says the analysis has “many policy implications:”
“Strong and well-designed efficiency regulations in addition to other complimentary measures ideally would drive fuel efficiency technologies to the market and enable the potential fuel savings and GHG reduction benefits discussed above. Efficiency standards for HDVs have been successfully put in place in four markets around the world and are projected to save around 1.8 million barrels of oil per day in 2035 (ICCT 2016). The tools, resources, and research that have been developed during the process of standard setting in these markets could enable additional countries to adopt standards at an accelerated pace. Current HDV efficiency regulations cannot be directly compared because they differ in terms of testing methods, duty cycles, payloads, and evaluation metrics. The modeling effort conducted in this research allows for more direct comparisons between vehicles to determine their potential for technology improvement.”
Notably, U.S. EPA and the Department of Transportation proposed GHG/fuel efficiency regulations for medium- and HDVs in August.
The point of the study is clear: GFEI is pushing for global HDV efficiency targets.
“[T]he overall motivation for this project is to take the first step toward setting HDV global efficiency targets in a way similar to what the GFEI has done for passenger cars. GFEI’s overarching efficiency goal for passenger cars is to halve the average per vehicle fuel consumption of the onroad light-duty vehicle fleet by 2050 from a base year of 2005 (GFEI 2016). This study indicates a few potential targets that could be incorporated for freight hauling Medium and Heavy HDVs.”