Calif. Rule May Spur Changes in Canada's Trucks

A greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction regulation from the State of California could be the catalyst to get Canadian jurisdictions to begin thinking green and working in earnest on fuel efficiency initiatives.

"If they don't," cautions Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) Chief Executive Officer David Bradley, "at the very least Canadian trucks could be barred from operating into and out of California, which accounts for $37 billion in two-way trade with Canada, and further delaying significant GHG improvement in Canada."

The California regulation comes into effect in 2010. There will be specific phased in requirements for existing tractor and trailer equipment up to 2010 model year and specific requirements after that for all tractor and trailer equipment 2011 model year and newer. Existing tractors and trailers up to 2010 model year will require retrofits with Smartway-approved technologies (tractors will require low-rolling resistance tires and trailers with both low rolling resistance tires and aerodynamic components). New tractors 2011 model year and newer must be Smartway certified. Trailers 2011 model year and newer, must either be Smartway certified from the manufacturer or be equipped with Smartway registered technology.

CTA and the provincial trucking associations have been encouraging the use of these technologies and devices—such as tractor and trailer aerodynamic fairings and fuel efficient wide base single tires—through its enviroTruck initiative. One of the impediments, beyond costs, to the accelerated penetration of this equipment into the marketplace has been that the current vehicle standards do not necessarily accommodate the added weight or different dimensions of the new technologies. The process for amendments in Canada is extremely cumbersome since each province has to first agree and then change its own standards. The two classic examples of this process are the inadequate weight allowances provinces (except Quebec and Ontario) apply to wide-base single tires and current restrictions by all provinces on the use of full "boat-tails"—a rear trailer aerodynamic fairing.

CTA is calling upon the Canadian Council of Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety and the Council of Minister of the Environment to conduct an immediate review of Canadian provincial weights and dimensions standards to remove obstacles to incorporating GHG reducing technology into the Canadian fleet. Bradley says that the Canadian governments need to work with industry to develop a concerted and coordinated package of investment incentives to accelerate the penetration of the new vehicles into the marketplace. "Cash, credit and capital are all extremely tight," he says. "California, the USEPA, and a number of states offer various incentive programs that U.S. carriers can take advantage of. Some Canadian provinces and Transport Canada also have modest and limited programs, but are pale in comparison to what is needed to make the transition."

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