In pre-budget submission, Alliance urges Committee to spur ‘green’ truck technology
OTTAWA – In the months that passed since a stable, Conservative majority took the helm in Ottawa, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has been busy rolling up its sleeves to enhance dialogue on policies and rules impacting freight transportation, including getting more environmentally friendly trucks out on the highway.
In a pre-budget submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (today), Stephen Laskowski, senior vice president of the 4,500-carrier Alliance, delivered a blueprint for how trucking companies and the federal government can partner to achieve significant environmental gains in the transport industry while boosting the overall economy.
“Government and industry interests are aligned,” Laskowski told the Committee of MPs. “If ever there was a time to incent carriers to make choices consistent with government environmental objectives, it is now.”
Laskowski pointed out that Environment Canada is turning its attention to GHG emission reductions from heavy trucks, which is almost entirely a function of fuel consumption.
While CTA supports Canada’s first-ever fuel efficiency standards for new commercial vehicles, the regulation will cost carriers a premium for moving to GHG-compliant tractors as did the introduction of mandated smog-free engines before it. It also comes at a time of economic uncertainty when tight access to capital continues to be a drag on investment in new, environmentally-friendly equipment.
The regulation will focus on new tractors and engines – it will not apply to the existing fleet of tractors, nor will trailers be included. CTA says this limits the gains in fuel economy that can be realized.
“Fleets are aging when carriers should be replacing older vehicles and investing in GHG compliant trucks and aftermarket devices,” Laskowski said. But because there is plenty of pre-owned, lower-cost equipment available, “truck buyers will have a choice not to purchase trucks that meet GHG regulatory standards.”
That is not inherently a bad thing Laskowski explained, but it does mean more substantive reductions in GHG could be delayed when the industry is prepared to invest in market-ready technologies right now.
CTA, therefore, is urging the committee to extend the proper incentives – like those already granted in other sectors – to the trucking industry as well.
“Just as the federal government has done with manufacturing and energy generating equipment, the tax system should be modified to reward trucking firms who make greener choices,” said senior VP Stephen Laskowski. “Why has trucking –already complying with tough engine, fuel standards — not received similar consideration?”
Specifically, Canadian capital cost allowance (CCA) rates for new tractors should be accelerated to spur fleet turnover and incent the purchase of trucks which meet the new GHG standard, including alternative propulsion systems such as electric hybrids and liquefied natural gas (LNG) vehicles, Laskowski said. “This is not a tax reduction; its tax deferral,” he said.
Laskowski also advocated for the introduction of a time‐limited, retrofit program for equipping existing fleets of tractor‐trailers with designated aftermarket fuel efficiency technologies and devices.
WHAT CAN BE ACHIEVED
CTA’s enviroTruck concept marries new, smog‐free truck engines with proven anti-idling, aerodynamic technologies for both tractors and trailers. CTA estimates that if Canada’s fleet of 300,000 Class 8 trucks adopted the full package, the industry could slash fuel consumption by 4.1 billion litres and reduce 11.5 million tonnes of GHG each year.
The pay-back from a program that incentivizes enviroTruck technology would complement the heavy‐truck GHG regulation but also increase emissions reductions at a faster pace, Laskowski said.
CTA is also receptive to using revenues from the 4-cent/litre excise diesel tax to fund a retrofit program rather than cutting the tax in half as Prime Minister Harper said he would do in 2008.
“The recommendations proposed will have little impact on federal finances,” said Laskowski. “But for just a modest investment, they could have a tremendous GHG reduction impact while at the same time also support Canadian manufacturers of the technology and help strengthen the economy.”