HILTON HEAD, S.C.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is inviting commercial tire manufacturers as well as truck fleets to join a unique industry-government partnership to improve the efficiency of freight transport, according to a speaker at the Clemson University Tire Industry Conference.
Launched in 2004, the SmartWay Transportation Partnership is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from truck fleets, promote U.S. energy security and save trucking companies money, said Cheryl L. Bynum, senior policy analyst for SmartWay at the EPA.
“Shippers assess the carbon footprint of their freight operations, using information from carriers that employ SmartWay-verified technologies,” Bynum said. SmartWay partners that have the greatest reductions in their carbon baseline are entitled to use the SmartWay logo in their publicity in recognition of their achievements, she said.
The SmartWay program has doubled in size annually since its inception, according to Bynum. Today it has more than 1,500 partners driving more than 584,000 trucks and representing 7 percent of the trucking industry, she said.
For 2009 alone, SmartWay partners will save 7 million tons of carbon dioxide, 1,000 tons of particulate matter, 41,000 tons of nitrogen oxide, 625 million gallons of diesel fuel, and $1.5 billion in fuel and maintenance costs over the figures recorded before SmartWay was introduced, according to EPA estimates.
Persuading truckers to join SmartWay wasn't easy in the beginning, said Bynum, who worked in the transportation industry before joining the agency.
“Many fleets weren't willing to work with us because they knew us only from the regulatory side,” she said. “They were skeptical, and trucking is a conservative business to begin with.”
The small, mom-and-pop trucking companies that form the base of the industry were particularly hard to reach because they don't necessarily belong to the American Trucking Association and other professional groups, Bynum said. But through public service announcements, booths at truck shows and talks at state trucking association meetings, the EPA got the word out.
“We told them, 'Let us be your environmental consultant,' ” she said. “ 'You might as well get your money's worth because we're doing it for you.' ”
Bynum and other EPA officials met with all truck manufacturers to identify the most fuel-efficient truck models and also the most fuel-efficient truck configurations, including parts and trailers.
The SmartWay program has specifications for parts and configurations across the entire length of a tractor-trailer, including low-rolling-resistance tires with aluminum wheels.
Tractor-trailers bearing SmartWay-approved design features are 10- to 20-percent more fuel-efficient than those without them, Bynum said.
SmartWay-approved truck tires must provide 15-percent lower rolling resistance per axle position than the most commonly used tires in that size, providing 3-percent or greater fuel savings, according to Bynum.
The EPA reviews and publishes a list of SmartWay-approved tires on its Web site and plans to add technical verification/verified products pages to the site, she said. SmartWay also is working with the retread industry to develop a comparable SmartWay specification for retread tires, she said.
Tire manufacturers use different test methods to certify fuel efficiency for SmartWay, Bynum said. These include the J1269 tire rolling resistance test and the J1321 vehicle fuel economy test, both from the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association. Tire makers can use vehicle averaging in the J1269 test, as long as at least one tire meets the target figure, she said.
The International Standards Organization should unveil its 28580 rolling resistance test sometime around October of this year, Bynum said. “We want all manufacturers to use this method because it will end variability,” she said.
Purchasing fuel-efficient tires and equipment is expensive, particularly for smaller companies, Bynum said. In recognition of this, SmartWay developed the SmartWay Finance Center at www.smartwayfinancecenter.com.