Trucks & SUVs

Why Don’t Heavy Duty Trucks Have to Report to the EPA?

Shoppers seeking a heavy-duty truck may find that the specs on display make it easy to compare when considering the highest payloads. An essential piece of information, however, is conveniently missing on window stickers — surprising in our age of environmentally inclined drivers.

Even though the top three best-selling vehicles for 2019 are all trucks, no explanation of fuel economy and MPG can be found on heavy duty trucks as it is on all other vehicles. So why do heavy duty trucks get to forego this information to the buyer and, even more egregiously, not have to report it to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)?

Why heavy duty trucks don’t have to report to the EPA

Green Car Reports explains that when the EPA enacted fuel economy standards for the auto industry, these regulations were mandated for smaller passenger vehicles, which include cars, SUVs and light-duty trucks. This did not include heavy duty trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 8,500 pounds.

At the time, heavy-duty trucks were a very small percentage of vehicles on the road and were driven mostly for labor-related tasks. After all, why budget for the monitoring and reporting of such a small player on the scene?

Fast-forward to today and heavy-duty trucks are no longer the vehicle of choice solely for tradesmen. Advertisements praise these beastly machines as luxury family vehicles capable of carrying up to six passengers while safely towing trailers. And yet, car manufacturers are still not required to report MPG data to the EPA or relay that information to consumers.

Jalopnik writer Andrew P. Collins claims this is one of the biggest cover-ups for pickup trucks. Ford recently invited him to test drive three of their trucks outside of Denver. When asked about the Super Duty’s fuel economy ratings, he was informed that this information was not available and was not even relevant due to driver-specific variables.

Collins furthers that the reason automakers don’t publish the ratings for heavy-duty trucks (that are three-quarter-tons and up) is because it’s not mandated. Even though it’s not required, automakers could still provide this info to the consumer if they wanted to.  

Could things change in the future?

According to the EPA, phase two of the greenhouse gas emissions and fuel economy standards will evaluate both medium and heavy-duty vehicles through 2027. The EPA explains that this effort aims to “improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution to reduce the impacts of climate change”.

In the meantime, organizations like Consumer Reports are taking matters into their own hands and publishing heavy-duty trucks’ gas economy info so buyers can make informed decisions. Consumer Reports lists MPG data for heavy-duty trucks like the Chevy Silverado — nominated for North American Truck of the Year — as well as the Ford F-250, Nissan Titan XD, and the Dodge Ram 2500.

Consumers Union Director David Friedman says, “Heavy-duty pickup shoppers shouldn’t be left in the dark when it comes to fuel economy.” He elaborates that the EPA should provide this information to buyers promptly while receiving necessary funding from Congress.

Consumers Union is urging Congress to make fuel economy data available to consumers both on fueleconomy.gov and on every vehicle’s window sticker. Until then, it’s up to buyers to research real-world consumer reviews for heavy-duty trucks’ fuel economy.