The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) believes the timeline for the federal 2010 emission standards for heavy-duty engines needs to be restructured to prove the worthiness of new engines, give the economy the opportunity to recover, and to let trucks explore fuel alternatives, the lobbying group said.

“With record-high diesel fuel prices earlier this year, trucking businesses have already faced insurmountable challenges trying to stay on the road,” said Todd Spencer, executive vp of OOIDA. “It’s the worst possible time for the trucking industry to take on a high-stakes gamble with no known level of reliability of the technologies or return on investment.”

OOIDA quoted a study by NERA Economic Consulting which said that prices for Class 8 vehicles meeting the 2010 standard are likely to increase $7,000 to $10,000 per truck, and “Environmental benefits [will] decline and the standards are less cost-effective,” the report stated.

According to NERA, high prices and uncertainty about compliance technology provides incentives for both a pre-buy in pre-model years and a “low-buy,” or lower sales, in compliance model years. Customers have incentives to increase purchases before 2010 and keep older trucks on the road longer, which may contribute to costs and prices of 2010 vehicles increasing substantially, NERA said.

The authors of the NERA report, David Harrison Jr., Ph.D., and Mark LeBel, collected data from 100 heavy-duty fleets to update a study conducted in 2005 in anticipation of the 2007 engine standards. They added that the 2005 study concluded that there would be two increased sales (in the pre-buy period) for every three decreased sales (in the low-buy period), a prediction that came to fruition, NERA said.

Because of this, OOIDA said it would like the incoming administration and Congress to push for a restructured timeline rather than go forward with the 2010 standard, finding ways to benefit the industry and the environment without suffering unintended consequences.

“With more time, the solutions will become much clearer and environmentally much cleaner,” Spencer said. “Otherwise, there will be a delay in the intended environmental benefit because there is a disincentive to purchasing the new technology. Truckers and fleets are simply going to hold onto their equipment for a longer period of time, if they are able to hold onto it at all.”

Dennis R. Slagle, Mack president & CEO recently commented that “Mack is fully on track with SCR, a proven technology that delivers significantly better fuel economy, benefitting customers and the environment. Moving the goal post now is not necessary and unfair to those who have invested heavily and worked diligently to meet the clean air goals set out by the EPA.”