Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represent the fastest growing component of U.S. transportation oil demand, projected to increase from approximately 2.8 mbd consumed today to 3.4 mbd in 2040. Because oil currently powers 92 percent of the transportation sector, strengthening fuel economy standards for these vehicles is a critical part of any effort to enhance U.S. energy security.
This Issue Brief investigates the potential fuel savings of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Phase 2 fuel economy program for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. With such vehicles currently responsible for more than 20 percent of transportation oil demand, the rule as proposed would create significant fuel savings for the sector, but could be improved by incentivizing the use of alternative fuels.
SAFE’s analysis finds that, in its current state, the proposed Phase 2 standards would reduce oil demand in the medium- and heavy-duty sectors by nearly 500,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd) by 2030 and 800,000 bpd by 2040. Furthermore, SAFE believes these numbers can be increased through the inclusion of incentives for alternative fuel technologies.
The deployment of alternative fuels represents the best long-term solution to the dangers posed by oil dependence. However, the United States will continue to rely substantially on petroleum-based transportation fuels to power its transportation system for many years to come, exposing the nation to profound economic and national security risks. The best way to reduce these risks while that transformation is taking place is to further reduce the oil intensity of the U.S. economy by improving the fuel efficiency of the vehicle fleet. Medium- and heavy-duty vehicles represent a crucial component of this effort.
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