Argonne National Laboratory

Idling Reduction for Long-Haul Trucks: An Economic Comparison of On-Board and Wayside Technologies

TitleIdling Reduction for Long-Haul Trucks: An Economic Comparison of On-Board and Wayside Technologies
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
Date Published09/2016
InstitutionArgonne National Laboratory
CityArgonne, IL USA
Report NumberANL/ESD-16/16

Reducing the idling of long-haul heavy-duty trucks has long been recognized as a particularly low-hanging fruit of fuel efficiency and emissions reduction. The displacement of about 10 hours of diesel idling every day, for most days of the year, for as many as a million long-haul trucks has very clear benefits.

This report considers the costs and return on investment (ROI) for idling reduction (IR) equipment for both truck owners and electrified parking space (EPS) equipment owners. For the truck owners, the key variables examined are idling hours to be displaced (generally 1,000 to 2,000 hours per year) and the price of fuel ($0 to $5/gal). The ideal IR option would provide complete services in varied climates in any location and offer the best ROI on trucks that log many idling hours. For trucks that have fewer idling hours, options with a fixed cost per hour (i.e., EPS) might be most attractive if they were available to all, or even most, truck drivers. EPS, however, is particularly cost effective for trucks on prescribed routes with a need for regular, extended stops at terminals. (EPS is also called truck stop electrification, or TSE.)

The analysis shows that all IR options save money when fuel costs more than $2/gal. For trucks requiring bunk heat, a simple heater (plug-in or diesel) is almost always the most costeffective way to provide heat, even if the truck is equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU) or is parked at a single-system EPS location. For trucks requiring bunk air-conditioning, the use of single-system EPS is most cost effective for those logging fewer idling hours. Even for trucks with higher idling hours, the cost of EPS may be about the same as that for on-board air-conditioning. Clearly, trucks’ locations and seasonal factors—and the availability of EPS— are significant in the choice of “best fit” IR equipment for truck owners.

This report also considers costs and payback for owners of EPS infrastructure. An industry that 5 years ago had at least five players has been narrowed to two companies—one in single-system EPS (IdleAir) and the other in dual-system EPS (Shorepower Technologies). Use of EPS by truck drivers has not met initial expectations for a variety of reasons. One area where EPS has particular promise, however, is in the cost-effective provision of reliable air-conditioning.

This analysis is focused strictly on cost and fuel savings; it does not consider the important benefits of reduced emissions (i.e., greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants). It is important to note that all IR options provide some emissions benefits. Even where an IR option may not have a rapid ROI, the emissions-reduction benefit may be considerable. Finally, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set stricter standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, the emissions benefits of IR strategies will become increasingly important.