Fuel Smarts

Phase 2 GHG Rules to Curtail Use of Glider Kits

August 30, 2016, by Tom Berg

Trucks are new but their engines are "pre-emission" -- a plus for buyers of gliders but a minus in the eyes of regulators. Photos: Tom Berg 
Trucks are new but their engines are "pre-emission" -- a plus for buyers of gliders but a minus in the eyes of regulators. Photos: Tom Berg

Glider kits — new trucks that are equipped with older engines and drivetrain components — will be almost outlawed by 2021 due to provisions of the federal Phase 2 Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Economy rules released earlier this month.

Starting in January of ‘21, they’ll be allowed only for their original purpose, which was reclaiming late-model powertrains from wrecked trucks. This goes back many years, to when glider kits were bought as service parts. Today, three truck builders produce glider kits for assembly by individuals and commercial concerns.

“We support GHG Phase 2 and we are presently working through the details,” stated David Giroux, spokesman for Daimler Trucks North America, whose Freightliner arm builds most glider kits used in the United States. Kenworth and Peterbilt produce the others, and Truckinginfo is seeking comment from them.

Though they make up a small percentage of total new truck sales, gliders produce far more exhaust emissions, says the Environmental Protection Agency, which wrote the new rules with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The EPA became concerned after a surge in sales, from a few hundred per year 10 to 20 years ago to more than 20,000 in 2015.

Most of those were undisguised efforts to get around modern emissions limits and the expensive engines needed to meet them, the agency feels. And most were high-mile highway trucks whose older engines, often with electronic controls but no other pollution-control equipment, spew many times the exhaust emissions of new engines.  

Last year’s proposals to do away with glider kits sparked many comments from producers who argued that total impacts on emissions are minuscule; that many gliders (such as concrete mixer trucks) run low annual mileages; and that they are built mainly by small companies that provide valuable jobs. EPA and NHTSA noted all those arguments but said none addressed the basic issue of higher particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen emissions.

“Although glider vehicles would make up only 5% of heavy-duty tractors on the road, their emissions would represent about one-third of all NOx and PM emissions from heavy-duty tractors in 2025,” the agencies said. “By restricting the number of glider vehicles with high polluting engines on the road, these excess PM and NOx emissions will decrease dramatically, leading to substantial public health-related benefits.”

Fitzgerald Gliders prefers reliable and economical 1998-2001 Detroit Series 60s with no EGR or aftertreatment equipment. Such gliders will only be legal until 2018, and in smaller numbers.  
Fitzgerald Gliders prefers reliable and economical 1998-2001 Detroit Series 60s with no EGR or aftertreatment equipment. Such gliders will only be legal until 2018, and in smaller numbers.

Instead of abruptly outlawing them, however, the new rules will phase out gliders over the next four years. Beginning this January, volume production and sales of gliders using “pre-emission” diesels will be greatly curtailed – and the agencies said they hope that this won’t spark a “pre-buy” of gliders between now and January.

Meanwhile, low-volume builders, including individual truckers, can continue to buy and assemble glider kits using older engines until 2021.

“For calendar year 2017, each manufacturer’s combined production of glider kits and glider vehicles will be capped at the manufacturer’s highest annual production of glider kits and glider vehicles for any year from 2010 to 2014,” the rule states. “All vehicles within this allowance will remain subject to the existing Phase 1 provisions, including its exemptions. 

“Any glider kits or glider vehicles produced beyond this allowance will be subject to the long-term program,” meaning they must use engines that are certified as emissions-legal for the same year the glider kit is built. The phase-down using that calculated cap will last one year, until January 2018. 

It appears that provision will curtail and eventually kill off the glider business grown by various dealers and service companies in the United States. Among them is Fitzgerald Gliders, which last year assembled more than 3,000 glider kits, most of them highway tractors.

The company primarily used rebuilt and remanufactured 1998-2001 Detroit Diesel Series 60 engines, which are known for their fuel economy and performance. Truckinginfo is seeking comment from Fitzgerald and other builders.

It also appears that builders of front-discharge mixers, who derive much business from the glider trade, will also have to phase out their glider assembly operations. They include Oshkosh, Indiana Phoenix and Terex Advance, who’ve also been asked to comment.

Terex Advance has said it has built trucks with currently certified diesels combined with used (and usually rebuilt or remanufactured) transmissions and axles. But the dollar savings over an all-new truck were only 10%, versus 30% or more when an older engine is also used.

It’s likely that by 2021, they and everyone else in the business will have to use engines certified to meet emissions limits set for the same year that the glidered trucks are built.

“The provisions being finalized are intended to allow a transition to a long-term program in which use of glider kits is permissible consistent with the original reason manufacturers began to offer glider kits – to allow the reuse of relatively new powertrains from damaged vehicles,” the agencies say in the rule.

Usually, that will mean engines that have run fewer than 100,000 miles are still within their original intended service life for pollution control equipment or are under three years old.


  1. 1. Vee [ August 31, 2016 @ 06:11AM ]

    Epa has gone too far with the b.s, talk to any mechanic and everyone of them will say the same, "I can't see how anyone makes any money with these new trucks, they cost $40,000 or better than what they said it would and the cost of repair will break you...
    Time to take back our country from the so called government and their friends....all this b.s. is dictatorship at it's finest and that's now America is suppose to be!!!!

  2. 2. Tom S [ August 31, 2016 @ 08:30AM ]

    "– and the agencies said they hope that this won’t spark a “pre-buy” of gliders between now and January."

    Further proof govt agencies don't understand how markets work. Fitzgerald will see their work increase hugely due to "pre-buys". There's a reason you see a LOT more 2007 trucks vs 2008, pre-buys avoiding DPFs.

  3. 3. MarvinG [ August 31, 2016 @ 10:30AM ]

    EPA isn't worried about anyone making money. This is only about control and the "Climate Change" people moving the agenda along. It also plays right into the ELD and speed limiters being supported by the ATA.

    The small carriers and the O/O's are soon done thanks to the big carriers and money hungry politicians. Big companies.....big money......big politicians! Say hello to the new era of trucking boys and girls!

  4. 4. Paul [ August 31, 2016 @ 10:34AM ]

    I live in communist California so I am used to this b.s.....but as a small company owner, my maintenance costs have gone through the roof since I upgraded to 2008 or newer equipment....almost to the point of going broke. Between new dpf's, doc's, turbos, sensors, egr coolers, and all the other crap my costs have gone up 40% but has the price of freight gone up? Nope. I'm going to make a prediction. The glider stuff will slow down, but a new industry will spring up. Because electronic logs are going to affect 2000 and newer trucks, you are going to see companies completely rebuilding pre 2000 Petes and Kenworths which will avoid both emissions and electronic logs....so, buy a "new" 1999 truck and get on down the road....like when trucking was fun!!

  5. 5. Russ [ August 31, 2016 @ 11:40AM ]

    I agree with Paul, a Person is crazy to get rid of their 1999 and old rigs when they can replace every component in their truck. Screw the EPA and Congress. I stopped going into California, let them figure out out how to get food to feed their kids.

  6. 6. kyle [ September 01, 2016 @ 05:33AM ]

    Hey EPA the reason the new trucks get better emissions rating is because they usually are broken down and sitting in a shop. I've had a paccar, Cummins, and the maxforce. I've lost thousands of dollars on these trucks and countless loads and jobs so who's is going to support the Business owners when they just can't afford to fix the junk that's being put out. The old motors work they out perform out work and out last anything that's being used today. Which the new diesel we use they do burn cleaner so why make is worse for the Business owners.

  7. 7. AndyP [ September 01, 2016 @ 06:31AM ]

    All this nonsense started with faulty science in the first place. According to this article, they're projecting percentage of emissions in 2025. Who are they kidding?!

  8. 8. Scott [ September 01, 2016 @ 07:16AM ]

    Heavy haulers can not operate with the new motors. We can barely pull loads grossing over 200,000 with them. Is there a exemption for heavy haulers??? There should be we need the older models with nothing cutting us back!!!

  9. 9. Scott [ September 01, 2016 @ 07:21AM ]

    Heavy haulers can not pull our loads with these junky new motors we need the older models to pull the weight we pull. the new motors can barely pull loads grossing 200,000+ and doesn't work for us. There should be an exemption for heavy haulers the new motors break down or struggle delaying delivery times.

  10. 10. Cliff Downing [ September 03, 2016 @ 08:38AM ]

    I have never regretted getting my 2013 glider. Been the most cost effective truck I have ever had. I will keep this girl running for a long, long time.

  11. 11. Joe muller [ September 03, 2016 @ 10:06PM ]

    I am a glider owner also . Had to give up on my Pete with the isx before it bankrupt me. Most people aren't opposed to a cleaner environment but not at the cost of their business

  12. 12. Eric [ September 06, 2016 @ 06:55AM ]

    Let's see: we've been into the new emissions stuff for diesels for 10 years now. That should be long enough to see a vast improvement in air quality across the nation, right? Has ANYBODY seen an air quality study? (I haven't). Also, if the EPA puts out an air quality study regarding the effects of cleaner diesel emissions, HOW COULD IT EVEN BE VERIFIED TO BE TRUE & ACCURATE? Just like we can believe anything else in the news these days as being accurate.

    My opinion is that there is NO measurable improvement in air quality vs. 10 years ago. The impact of lower emission diesels vs. air quality in any given area is probably ZERO difference. This has all been for nothing, & will continue to be for nothing more than just another power grab by our EPA & the green movement. Except of course costing fleets & owner operators, as well as the entire industry, tons more money. Oh - did I leave out costing EVERYBODY more money? When transportation costs go up, the cost of all goods go up. Nice job EPA. Yeah, go after the glider companies = accomplishment for cleaner air = accomplishing nothing.

  13. 13. TruckGuy [ September 07, 2016 @ 04:52AM ]

    Here's the EPA's latest air quality study.

  14. 14. Thomas the ex trucker [ September 12, 2016 @ 04:18PM ]

    Always the word ''spew''! Oh, al these older rivers dropping dead all over the world because they were around the ''spewing'' diesel engines! Oh my gosh we're killing everybody from ''spewing!'' Can't trust the EPA or CARB to say anything that true. They're just pissed cuz' some guys got past with the gliders and they didn't have enough control over the decision. Can't trust them as far as you can ''spew'' them.

  15. 15. Greg [ December 20, 2017 @ 12:44PM ]

    The fact that the government is willing to cut thousands of jobs and basically put an end to someones way of income is ridiculous!


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