Societal pressures for reducing energy consumption are well known. The transportation sector is
the largest user of petroleum in the United States, accounting for two-thirds of the nation's oil
demand, and the demand continues to rise. Most of the increase is attributed to trucks, which by
2010 are expected to use as much energy as automobiles. As a result of the increasing number of
vehicles and miles driven, oil import demands continue to rise, as does global demand for oil.
Meanwhile, worldwide oil reserves are becoming concentrated in a smaller number of countries,
many of which may be politically unstable and hostile to the U.S. Therefore, we grow ever more
vulnerable to serious potential adverse economic impacts of disruptions in the oil supply. In
addition, the large and growing oil imports are a major contributor ($49 billion in 1995) to the
nation's negative balance of payments.
Consumption of petroleum inevitably results in the production of air pollutants and greenhouse
gases, which also are already a major national and international concern. Any reduction in fuel
consumption will cause a proportionate reduction in pollutants from the vehicles.
Fleet operators and independent truckers are extremely sensitive to cost because of their very low
profit margin. Typically, of the $1.20 to $1.60 per mile gross revenue, the net income is only
$0.01 to $0.02 per mile at best, or only 0.5 to 1.5%. Therefore, anything that reduces cost, such
as improving fuel efficiency through lower friction, would be welcome, but anything that
increases cost could be an economic disaster for them. Another deleterious aspect of cost
increases is the necessity of industry to pass those costs on to its customers and eventually to the
The interval between oil changes also is a major concern, not only because of the cost of the oil
and shop labor, but also because of the cost of downtime in terms of lost revenue and driver pay.
Oil-change intervals have gradually increased. An interval of 25,000 miles is fairly common,
and 50,000 miles is possible with premium lubricants and proper scheduling. However
forthcoming antipollution measures, such as exhaust-gas recirculaton (EGR), are threatening to
accelerate degradation of the oil and reduce intervals between changes. Therefore, there is a
need to develop better lubricants or better ways to remove contaminants from lubricants to
extend oil-change intervals as much as possible.
Truck manufacturers depend primarily upon their suppliers for R&D, and they feel that it would
be appropriate for DOE to work with the suppliers, especially the diesel engine manufacturers.
The truck manufacturers also are extremely sensitive to their customers, the fleet operators and
independent drivers. Thus, they are in favor of anything that would improve the cost-
effectiveness of trucks.
The emission requirements to become effective in 2002 (see Figure 5) will place much greater
demands on engine oils, because of increased levels of contaminants, such as soot from EGR,
and to higher temperatures. It is estimated that the new antipollution technologies may cause a