WASHINGTON – The Obama administration is preparing to propose fuel efficiency standards that for the first time will apply to medium- and heavy-duty trucks, including tractor-trailers, school buses, delivery vans, garbage trucks and heavy pickup trucks.
The announcement, expected today, would affect vehicles sold in the 2014 model year and into the 2018 model year.
The proposal is expected to seek reductions of 10 percent to 20 percent in fuel consumption and emissions based on the vehicle's size.
Large tractor-trailers tend to be driven up to 150,000 miles a year, making them ripe for improved miles per gallon.
Vans, pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds gross vehicle weight are classified as heavy-duty vehicles. Fuel economy regulations currently do not apply to these vehicles.
The new rules will cover big rig tractor-trailers, "vocational trucks" such as garbage trucks and transit and school buses, and work trucks such as heavy-duty versions of the Ford F-Series, Dodge Ram and Chevrolet Silverado.
The White House has pushed for tougher fuel economy standards as a way to reduce dependence on oil and cut greenhouse gas emissions tied to global warming.
New cars, pickup trucks and SUVs will need to reach 35.5 mpg by 2016, and the government is developing plans for future vehicle models that could push the standards to 47 mpg to 62 mpg by 2025.
Medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks are much less fuel-efficient than conventional automobiles; tractor-trailers typically get about 6 mpg to 7 mpg, while work trucks can achieve 10 to 11 mpg.
But they still consume about 20 percent of the transportation fuel in the U.S.