Powertrain Choices for Future Work Trucks Include New Generation of Diesel to Meet Sustainability Needs

Latest innovations in diesel engines and advanced biofuels place diesel as top customer choice.

Cars Road Vehicles Sky 172074

Approximately six million diesel-powered work trucks today are on the job working for small businesses and governments alike. These trucks that deliver the everyday services Americans demand, are doing so with fewer emissions and a greater eye on sustainability, which is why diesel technology will continue to be a prime technology for work trucks in the future.  

“At the National Truck Equipment Association’s 2020 Work Truck Summit in Indianapolis, it is clear that the future will include more fuel and powertrain choices – electric, gasoline, hybrid and gaseous fueled vehicles.  At the same time, advanced diesel technologies will continue to dominate the sector particularly in heavier work truck applications, with the increasing use of renewable biodiesel fuels as an added advantage,” says Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, a Washington DC-based not-for-profit educational association representing manufacturers of diesel engines, equipment, components and fuels.  

“More work trucks in operation today are of the newest generation diesel than ever before. Of the more than six million diesel Class 3-7 vehicles now operating in America’s cities and communities, 42 percent are equipped with the new generation of diesel technology including particulate filters and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems that utilize diesel exhaust fluid to achieve near-zero emissions for both nitrogen oxide and particulate matter.  The new generation trucks are also more fuel efficient, which means lower greenhouse gas emissions.  

“Over the last two decades, the leaders in diesel truck and engine technology have transformed the diesel platform to achieve near-zero emissions, and more recently achieve unprecedented gains in fuel efficiency meeting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards.  And diesel technology is poised for even further improvements through EPA’s Cleaner Trucks Initiative, a rulemaking that will take the current near-zero emissions capabilities even closer to zero in the coming years,” said Schaeffer.  

“Beyond diesel’s low emissions and gains in efficiency, the opportunity to utilize low-carbon advanced biofuels, including biodiesel and renewable diesel fuel, across the entire work truck fleet, provides fleet operators a proven, immediate and cost-effective way to achieve major gains in sustainable transportation and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the entire fleet of new and existing trucks, with little to no added infrastructure or engine and vehicle acquisition costs.  A growing list of work truck users are finding that a transition to low cost advanced biofuels is a key strategy to significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions in immediate terms.  Florida Power and Light, one of the largest utilities serving five million customers, is powering its fleet of over 1,750 bucket trucks and other pieces of equipment with high quality biodiesel blends, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent overnight.

“Since 2015, the City of Oakland, CA has committed to operate its fleet of over 300 diesel work trucks and off-road equipment with renewable diesel fuel – a drop in replacement for petroleum diesel fuel – to achieve a 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

“Work trucks come in many shapes and sizes and are called on for a multitude of tasks every day.  This year new diesel options are now available in the popular half-ton pick-up segment, including the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a new 3.0L Duramax diesel engine, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, as well as various van applications such as the Chevrolet Express Cargo Van, Ram Promaster or Daimler Sprinter.

“Fleet operators recognize that diesel is the one technology fully capable of delivering no-compromise demands for this diverse industry sector, whether it be power, performance, availability, fueling and maintenance infrastructure, efficiency, near-zero emissions or acquisition cost.   

“There are many different shades of green, just as there are virtually an unlimited configuration of work trucks.  It would be wrong to assume that fleets must move away from diesel technology in order to enhance their sustainability or lower their carbon footprint,” said Schaeffer.