By Mike Antich

Last year, the U.S. Congress granted an exemption from the 12-percent federal excise tax for truck idle reduction systems. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of approved idle reduction systems eligible for the federal excise tax exemption. The exemption applies to sales and installation of these systems since Oct. 4, 2008.

Federal Excise Tax Exemption

In the Energy Improvement and Extension Act (EIEA) of 2008 (PL 110-343), Section 206 exempts certain idling reduction devices and advanced insulation from the federal excise tax. This law amends section 4053 of the Internal Revenue Code, covering exemptions from the federal excise tax for parts and accessories for heavy trucks, tractors, and trailers, and applies to sales and installations of idling reduction devices after the enactment of the EIEA. One caveat is that fleets are advised to consult with their tax counsel prior to implementation to confirm eligibility for the tax exemption.

For purposes of section 4053(9)(B) of the Internal Revenue Code, the EPA has determined that the devices listed below reduce truck idling. For the purposes of EIEA, the effective date of the list is the first day after the enactment of EIEA.

Truck fleets must ensure all devices installed on commercial motor vehicles conform to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, 49 CFR 393, Parts and Accessories Necessary for Safe Operation. Regulations governing auxiliary power units are contained in Section 393.28, Section 393.30, and SubPart E of Part 393. These requirements dictate the specifications of installation of wiring and fuel systems for this equipment.

Criteria for Federal Excise Tax Exemption

An idle reduction technology is defined as the installation of a technology or device that:

  • Is affixed to a vehicle.
  • Is designed to provide services (such as heat, air conditioning, and/or electricity) to the vehicle or equipment that would otherwise require the operation of the main drive engine while the vehicle or equipment is temporarily parked or remains stationary.
  • Reduces unnecessary idling of such vehicle or equipment.

Over the past seven years, EPA and the Department of Energy have evaluated idle reduction technologies/devices as part of grants, cooperative agreements, emissions testing, engineering analyses, modeling, demonstration projects, and external peer-reviewed reports to study the effects of idling on air quality, fuel consumption, and driver health.

Based on this evaluation and research, EPA has determined a variety of idle reduction technologies save fuel and reduce emissions when compared to idling the main engine. Qualified devices were added to EPA's list of verified idling control technologies.  In the future, additional technologies/devices similar in design, function, and effect can be added to this list after EPA evaluates their capabilities to determine if the device or devices may be accepted as verified technologies.

Eligible Products for the Federal Excise Tax Exemption

EPA-approved idling reduction technologies are categorized below by technology type and listed by company/model. For further information, see

Fuel-Operated Heaters

A fuel-operated heater is used to provide heat only. EPA has determined through its test program that these devices reduce emissions on trucks when compared to the truck's baseline emissions. In addition, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved certain fuel-operated heaters for compliance with applicable California emissions standards. Below is the list of approved fuel-operated heaters:

  • Automotive Climate Control (ACC) / Fuel Fired Heater (air-to-air) FFHD 2.
  • Espar / D1LC.
  • Espar / D3LC.
  • Espar / Airtronic D2.
  • Espar / Airtronic D4.
  • Espar / Hydronic 5.
  • Espar / Hydronic 8-10-12.
  • Teleflex A2.
  • Teleflex A4.
  • Teleflex X45.
  • Volvo 41-11.
  • Webasto / Air Top 2000.
  • Webasto / Air Top 3500.
  • Webasto / TSL 17.
  • Webasto / Thermo 90S.

Battery Air Conditioning Systems

A battery air conditioning system uses batteries to power an independent electric cooling system. These systems will also integrate a fuel-operated heater to supply heating. Battery air conditioning systems operate when the truck engine is turned off. Below is the list of approved battery air conditioning systems:

  • AuraGen / Inverter / Charger System.
  • Bergstrom, Inc. / NITE.
  • DC Power Systems APU/AC.
  • Dometic Corporation / Dometic.
  • Driver Comfort System / Driver Comfort System.
  • Freightliner Cascadia Park Smart System.
  • Glacier Bay / Climacab.
  • Idle Free Systems / Reefer Link System.
  • Kenworth Truck Company / Kenworth Clean Power.
  • Paddock Solar / Paddock Solar.
  • Peterbilt / Comfort Class System.
  • Safer Corporation / VIESA.
  • Sun Power Technologies / Sun Power.
  • Volvo / 971-001/2.

Auxiliary Power Units/Generator Sets (APU/GS)

An APU/GS device contains an EPA-certified engine, as certified under 40 CFR Part 89. APU/GS devices supply cooling, heating, and electrical power to trucks and other applications. EPA has determined through its own test program that these devices reduce emissions on pre-2007 trucks and other applications when compared to the baseline truck's emissions. Below is the list of approved auxiliary power units/generator sets:

  • Aux Generators Inc. / Idle Hawk.
  • Auxiliary Power Dynamics, LLC / Willis APU.
  • Black Rock Systems / Black Rock.
  • Carrier Transicold / ComfortPro APU.
  • Centramatic / Centramatic APU.
  • Comfort Master / Comfort Master.
  • Cummins / ComfortGuard.
  • Diamond Power Systems / Diamond Power Systems.
  • Double Eagle Industries / Gen-Pac.
  • Dunamis Power Systems APU.
  • E-Z On APU.
  • Flying J Inc / Cab Comfort System.
  • Frigette Truck Systems / APU.
  • Frigette Truck Systems / Gen Set 1.
  • Frigette Truck Systems / Gen Set 2.
  • Gates Corporation / Cab Runner.
  • Idle Solutions APU.
  • Idlebuster / Idlebuster.
  • Kohler / 3APU.
  • Kohler / 7APU.
  • Kool-Gen / KG-1000.
  • Mechron Power Systems / CCS Lightning Cab Comfort System.
  • Navistar / Fleetrite APU.
  • Peterbilt / Comfort Class.
  • Pony Pack, Inc. / Pony Pack.
  • RigMaster Power Systems, Inc.(Div. of International Power Systems Inc.) / Rig Master Power.
  • Star Class / GEN-STAR 4500.
  • Star Class / GEN-STAR 6000.
  • Thermo King/ TriPac.
  • TRIDAKO Energy Systems / Power Cube.
  • Truck Gen / UCT 2-5.5.
  • Truck Gen / UCT I-3.5.
  • Truck Gen / UCT-APU.
  • Volvo / 971-003/4 - (optional 82A-B1X).

Thermal Storage Systems

A thermal storage system stores energy in cold storage as the truck is driven and then provides air conditioning when the truck is turned off. Below is the list of approved thermal storage systems:

  • Autotherm Division Enthal Systems, Inc / T-2500 Energy Recovery System (ERS).
  • Webasto / BlueCool Truck.

Eliminating Zero MPG

The worst mileage a vehicle can get is 0 miles per gallon, which occurs when it idles. Reducing unnecessary idling is the simplest and easiest way for a fleet to reduce fuel costs. By installing EPA-approved idle-control technologies, your fleet is now eligible for a tax exemption from the 12-percent federal excise tax. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.

Let me know what you think.

[email protected] 

About the author
Mike Antich

Mike Antich

Former Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Global Fleet of Hal in 2022. He also won the Industry Icon Award, presented jointly by the IARA and NAAA industry associations.

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