CHICAGO. Too much? Not enough? The lines were clearly drawn between trucking industry representatives and environmental groups testifying in a public hearing convened to discuss the next round of fuel efficiency standards and greenhouse gas (GHG) limits for commercial vehicles. The 600-page proposed rule has been developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA), who organized the Thursday session here.

The good news: Despite the complexity of such a regulation, the two sides support the government’s effort to come up with a workable solution that will benefit the trucking business and consumers along with the environment.

But, based on the morning session testimony of truck, engine and trailer builders, the key is to come up with a manageable framework that reflects the diversity of commercial vehicle applications—and with making sure new vehicles under the coming standards are both affordable and reliable. Additionally, any regulation should be applicable in all 50 states and should not impose changes on Phase I of the rule, to which manufacturers have already committed their production plans.

“In all candor, we still are studying the details of today’s massive proposal,” said Jed Mandel, president of the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA). “We are focused on making sure that the final rule ‘gets it right.’”

Indeed, under the Department of Energy’s “SuperTruck” initiative, prototype vehicles have achieved “innovative, game-changing improvements in freight efficiency,” Mandel added. Yet, based on EMA’s preliminary assessments, even those SuperTrucks—which include technologies and design elements unlikely to commercially viable in 2027—wouldn’t meet the best-performing vehicle requirements under the proposed rule.

“We don’t believe that EPA’s and NHTSA’s intent is to adopt rules that would require the development of new technologies, beyond the SuperTruck prototypes just now being developed, as the reference for compliance with Phase II,” Mandel said. “Accordingly, we believe that it is necessary to refine the reference assumptions, and correct many of the underlying assumptions about technology penetration rates for certain market segments, in order to finalize a technologically feasible and implementable rule.”