The heavy-duty trucking industry is facing a period of significant change. The transportation industry is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and heavy-duty trucks are the second-highest emitter in the transportation sector after light-duty vehicles. Because the trucking industry is so vital to the economy and a significant emitter of greenhouse gases, it’s no surprise that the EPA has targeted the industry for substantial emissions cutbacks.

In 2022, the EPA announced new emissions standards for heavy-duty trucks that will begin with trucks released in 2027. These standards are a significant step forward in the fight to lower greenhouse gas or NOx emissions and are expected to be 80% tighter than current regulations. So, what will the new standards target? Here are a few highlights.

  • Heavy-duty vehicles must limit NOx emissions to 0.035 grams per horsepower in typical driving conditions.
  • While operating at low load, heavy-duty trucks must reduce emissions to 0.050 grams.
  • While idling, heavy-duty trucks must reduce emissions to 10.0 grams.
  • Manufacturers must guarantee the after-treatment systems in their trucks for more miles, up from the current standard of 435,000 miles to 800,000 miles.
  • Manufacturers must also make their engine designs tamper-proof so operators cannot change the electronic emission controls.

These new standards are highly ambitious and represent the first significant update to clean air standards for heavy-duty trucks in 20 years. These standards, outlined in the EPA’s Clean Trucks Plan, aim to head to a zero emissions future. According to the EPA’s projections, if these standards are met, it could significantly boost public health. In a press release announcing the measures, EPA administrator Michael S. Regan said, “EPA is taking significant action to protect public health, especially the health of 72 million people living near truck freight routes in America, including our most vulnerable populations in historically overburdened communities.” The EPA estimates that these standards will result in fewer hospital admissions, emergency department deaths, lost work days, and premature deaths.

The EPA’s standards are highly ambitious for heavy-duty truck manufacturers to meet, and the goals here in California are even higher. The California Air Resources Board plans to align with the EPA’s new guidelines. It has also implemented a phased-in transition that requires all new trucks sold in California after 2045 to have zero emissions technology.

These lofty goals will require significant shifts in the heavy-duty trucking industry and from trucking manufacturers. But it will also lead to changes in the lubricant world too. Engine oils and lubricants will need to be cleaner than ever to help reduce emissions to these levels. To help meet this upcoming standard, the American Petroleum Institute is creating a new category for measuring heavy-duty engine oil performance — PC-12.

The PC-12 category is still being finalized, but this category aims to outline requirements for cleaner oils and lubricants that will meet the 2027 EPA emissions standards. To meet these requirements, PC-12 category lubricants are expected to offer better oxidation control and increased wear protection. These lubricants will likely have a lower viscosity to help improve engine performance and fuel economy.

Just like previous oil categories, the PC-12 will have two sub-categories. One will be backward compatible with older engine models, already known as CL-4 by industry insiders. The other type expected to address the need for lower high temperature high shear oil viscosity is FB-4. Oils that meet these new standards are not expected to hit shelves until at least 2026.

Developing a new oil category is an exciting process, and it will take time for us to learn the specific guidelines for PC-12 lubricants. Lubricant manufacturers, like our partners at Chevron, are hard at work testing and developing new lubricant formulas to prepare for these upcoming changes for lubricant cleanliness and efficiency.

Just as lubricant manufacturers are preparing for PC-12 standards, heavy-duty truck manufacturers are actively working to develop new engine technologies to meet the EPA’s standards. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced a partnership with leading manufacturers and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association called the Clean Truck Partnership. This agreement aims for regulators and manufacturers to work together to collaboratively prepare for a zero-emissions future. In the spirit of collaboration, the CARB agreed to provide four years of lead time before imposing new requirements on the trucking industry.

We all know that the changes to reduce emissions in the trucking and lubricant industry will be challenging for manufacturers and developers. But how will it affect the average fleet or heavy-duty company? How can you prepare for PC-12 lubricants and the EPA’s new engine standards? Here are three ideas we’d like to share.

  1. Start setting your new inventory goals now. If you plan to add more trucks to your fleet in the next few years, you must plan for these emissions standards. Newer truck models that meet the upcoming standards may be more expensive, so be prepared for those additional expenses.
  2. Start transitioning to lower-viscosity engine oils now. The earlier you embrace emissions reduction steps like using lower-viscosity engine oils, the easier the transition will be. We can help you find suitable lubricants for your truck’s needs and devise a plan to help reduce your fleet’s emissions with cleaner and more efficient lubricant products.
  3. Sign up for our oil analysis program. Our oil analysis program allows you to get direct insights into how your lubricants and engines perform based on the samples you provide. With these insights, you can be empowered to make better lubricant decisions, focus on preventative maintenance, and begin taking steps to reduce your fleet’s overall emissions. If you want data-driven insight into how your fleet is performing and what you’ll need to do for these upcoming regulation changes, our oil analysis program can help.

The future of the heavy-duty trucking industry is going to be greener. Manufacturers and lubricant developers are already taking steps to prepare to meet these new regulations. It’s time for your business to start preparing as well. As your fleet fueling partner, we’re here to help in any way we can. So, if you have questions about your specific lubricant and fuel needs, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.​​