During the first regulatory hearing to gather public input on the federal government’s proposed greenhouse gas (GHG)/fuel economy standards for commercial trucks and buses, the chairman of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) stressed that cost will be the most critical factor in determining whether these rules succeed or fail in their intent.

“Any new fuel-economy regulations must meet the statute’s requirement that [fuel economy rules] be ‘appropriate, cost-effective and technologically feasible,’” said Kyle Treadway, ATD chairman, in testimony before a joint Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) hearing in Chicago today.

“If these three criteria are not met, prospective customers will not purchase new vehicles and engines, reducing sales and leaving stock vehicles languishing on dealer lots,” he added.

Treadway, who is president of the Kenworth Sales Co. based in West Valley City, UT ( which sells new Kenworth and Mitsubishi Fuso trucks ), stressed that trucking customers retain options not to buy new trucks if they are too costly.

“Instead of choosing to buy new fuel-efficient vehicles, they can instead pay my service and parts operations to help them keep their existing vehicles on the road, up to and including re-building engines or vehicles,” he pointed out. “Cost is always a concern and customers can buy used vehicles at a lower cost than new federally compliant ones. That is why new fuel economy mandates must be affordable [i.e., the cost must be justifiable up front] in order to have any chance at success in the marketplace.”

Treadway also noted that before truck customers lay out the substantial investments necessary to purchase new vehicles they want to be assured they won’t be buying performance compromises, either, such as a decrease in freight-hauling capability or an increase in maintenance and repair costs.

“Especially with engines and other drivetrain components, improving one metric, such as fuel economy, must not diminish other critical performances metrics or result in higher vehicle costs,” he explained. “Otherwise, fuel-efficiency improvements won’t get bought and will fail in the marketplace.”