Cost effectiveness of advanced efficiency technologies for long-haul tractor-trailers in the 2020–2030 timeframe

Published Tue, 2015.04.21 | By

Dan Meszler, Nic Lutsey, Oscar Delgado


Evaluation, based on leading technology effectiveness, technology cost, and fuel price data, of payback periods for the efficiency technologies analyzed in a companion paper on tractor-trailer technology potential.

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As U.S. regulatory agencies work on the second phase of heavy-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and fuel-efficiency standards, a key question concerns the payback periods of various advanced efficiency technologies in 2020 and beyond.

This paper analyzes the technology cost and payback periods associated with technical results from a companion paper, Advanced tractor-trailer efficiency technology potential in the 2020-2030 timeframe. The evaluation includes a synthesis of best-available data on efficiency technology costs and analysis of fuel savings under a variety of fuel price and discount rate assumptions to bound low and high payback periods for average long-haul tractor-trailer conditions.

Key findings:

  1. Available efficiency technology. Available tractor-trailer efficiency technologies can reduce fuel use by 40% from the baseline 2010 technology in the 2020–2025 time frame, and have payback periods of less than one year under base case economic assumptions.
  2. Emerging long-term technology. Emerging advanced efficiency technologies can achieve at least a 50% reduction from baseline 2010 technology in the 2025–2030 time frame. These levels of technology deployment offer greater fuel savings, payback periods within 18 months under base case assumptions, and would require technology-forcing standards with sufficient lead time.
  3. Estimates of short payback periods are realistic. Even under the most conservative assumptions —fuel prices through 2030 that average as low as $3.10 per gallon diesel, higher technology costs, and high discount rates — the most costly and advanced technology packages have payback periods of 1.4–2.2 years.
  4. First-user fuel savings. Typical first owners of tractor-trailers who invested in efficiency technology packages that reduced fuel use by up to 40% would see fuel savings 3–9 times greater than the upfront technology cost. The most advanced technology package, which cuts fuel use by over 50%, would produce lifetime fuel savings 2–5 times the upfront technology costs, depending on fuel price and discount rate assumptions.