Truckers find fuel efficiency has stiff price


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The Canadian trucking industry is calling for incentives in the 2008 federal budget to support faster greening of the industry.

Tough new federal fuel and emission standards, mandated in three phases by 2010, will usher in a smog-free era for the industry - eventually.

"We have two problems," says Stephen Laskowski, vice-president of economic and environmental affairs for the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA).

Although emissions have been lowered at each of the first two phases in 2002 and 2007, capital and operating costs increased - increases that are hard to swallow in a fiercely competitive industry operating on slim margins.

And because current greener equipment lowers fuel efficiency, more greenhouse gases are produced, says Laskowski, who is also vice-president of the Ontario Trucking Association.

The extra capital and operating costs of green equipment will delay achievement of the smog-free goals, as operators put off buying newer, more expensive equipment as long as possible.

"Certainly incentives would help us in converting sooner rather than later," says Eugene Moser, president of Challenger Motor Freight in Cambridge, Ont., which is in the process of replacing its 1,500-truck fleet with smog-free models.

The new greener engines mandated beginning 2007 cut particulate matter by 90 per cent. But that technology adds about $8,000 to the $130,000 to $135,000 cost for each new unit today, says Moser.


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