Truck dealers host EPA, DOT officials

April 10, 2014

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation recently toured three commercial truck dealerships to learn more about the industry.

ATD Chairman Eric Jorgensen, who hosted one of the visits last month, explained to officials from the EPA’s office in Ann Arbor, Mich., how the 2004-2010 emission changes resulted in adverse consequences, adding ATD supports the goals of lower emissions and better fuel economy but wants to be sure the goals are technologically feasible and economically practical.

RELATED: Industry weighs in on Obama’s emission expectations.

“Previous emissions regulations had a negative impact on the industry and also had a costly impact on dealership service departments,” Jorgensen, president and CEO of JX Enterprises in Grand Rapids, Mich., which operates 16 stores in four states, says. “Because of higher costs from regulations, our customers overhauled high-mileage trucks and purchased pre-owned trucks with old technology instead of buying new, efficient trucks.”

Dick Witcher, immediate past chairman of ATD, hosted about a dozen regulators from the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center, which is part of DOT, in Cambridge, Mass., at his dealership last month.

“We explained how dealerships operate, provided a tour and spent time looking at engine components because many regulators have theoretical knowledge of the industry, but have seldom seen or touched the inside of a power plant on a heavy-duty truck,” says Witcher, president and CEO of Minuteman Trucks in Walpole, Mass. “When regulatory agencies make policy decisions, they need to understand how their rules will impact the business community.”

Jack Saum, chairman of the board of Beltway Companies in Frederick, Md., who hosted the third visit with EPA and DOT officials from Washington, D.C., said “positive intentions can often have unintended consequences.”

He explained that the positive intention of passing regulations to achieve a cleaner environment led to unintended economic consequences.

“Since 2004, the cost of emissions compliance has increased the price of trucks about 25 to 30 percent,” says Saum, who was ATD’s Truck Dealer of the Year in 2010. “These new technologies added weight, increased cost and purchase decisions were delayed. This resulted in an aging, less environmentally friendly fleet.”

The visits, which resulted from an earlier meeting with federal regulators last September, were arranged as part of an ongoing ATD initiative to encourage the nation’s commercial truck dealers to build relationships with government regulators and members of Congress to help them gain a better understanding of the industry and how laws and regulations can have adverse consequences.

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