Last week, President Obama visited the Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) manufacturing facility in Mount Holly, North Carolina, where he announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of clean, advanced vehicles in communities around the country.
DTNA is a partner in the Energy Department’s SuperTruck initiative, which is focused on increasing the fuel efficiency of long haul trucks (aka, 18-wheelers) by 50 percent by 2015.
While these particular trucks represent only 4 percent of the on-road vehicles in America, they are responsible for almost 20 percent of the country’s on-road fuel consumption, and this class of vehicle currently consumes more than 30 billion gallons of gasoline each year.
In order to achieve the SuperTruck imitative goal, companies like Daimler are developing and improving a number of vehicle technologies, including engine efficiency, aerodynamics waste heat recovery and hybridization. Through these types of improvements, the Energy Department estimates fuel economy increases could save long-haul truckers more than $15,000 per truck per year in fuel costs. (In an earlier post, I reported that MIT researchers also have identified significant cost savings for businesses that use electric vehicles to make deliveries on an everyday basis in big cities.)
Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified DTNA’s complete portfolio of model year 2013 on-highway, vocational, and medium duty vehicles as fully compliant with new GHG14 regulations. DTNA is the first and only commercial vehicle manufacturer to be certified as GHG14 compliant. What’s more the compliance was achieved one full year ahead of the mandate issued by federal agencies.
“The Mount Holly Manufacturing facility is a wonderful example of the truck demand that is ramping up across all DTNA facilities. In 2011 the facility more than tripled its production rate and is continuing to experience strong demand,” said Roger Nielsen, Chief Operating Officer, DTNA. “President Barack Obama’s visit to the facilities is an honor that underscores our commitment to growing and sustaining employment in North Carolina.”
The President also announced a set of incentives to help consumers and businesses purchase new, fuel efficient cars and trucks. These incentives include increasing and expanding the current tax credit for advanced vehicles, from the $7,500 credit that currently exists up to $10,000, while allowing the credit to be applied to additional types of technologies, not currently covered. In addition, the President announced a new research challenge that invests in breakthrough technologies to make electric vehicles as affordable and convenient to own and operate as gasoline-powered vehicles by the end of the decade.