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What is a Glider Kit And How Does It Affect You?

NOTE:federal appeals court has blocked this policy change as of July 18th, 2018. We will update you as this changes. 

News is hitting the net that Scott Pruitt, EPA administrator, has effectively allowed glider kits to be sold freely instead of being limited to 300 a year per manufacturer. But how does that affect you as a fleet owner or a truck owner? 

To put it plainly, glider kits are basically truck "shells" without an engine or transmission (thus, they only "glide"). The glider makers then put in 2003 or older rebuilt diesel engines. The net result is a truck that performs just like a new truck... except they are 10-30 percent cheaper. These trucks, without the modern clean-exhaust technology, are also more reliable and requires less maintenance overall with proven parts. 

Glider kits are not reman'ed old trucks, but rather brand new chassis from builders such as Freightliner, Kenworth, Peterbilt, or Western Star, paired with older but name brand engines such as Detroit Diesel, Cummins, and CAT, as well reman'ed transmissions such as Eaton. Without the emissions equipment, your vehicle will gain 10-20% MPG. The average 18-wheeler gets just under 6 MPG. Fitzgerald Glider Kits claim their gliders get 6.8 to 7.5 MPG in the real world from their rebuilt and reprogrammed Detroit Diesel Series 60 12.7L engines.  

So what's the catch? You won't be able to go into California. California banned any vehicle (including gliders) powered by an engine older than 2006 unless they are retrofitted with diesel particular filters, as of April 2018, and a bill proposed in April 2018 sets a $25000 minimum penalty for violations.

A more nebulous catch is the amount of pollution you will cause with your glider. Many news sources sides with California Air Resources Board (CARB) and called gliders "super polluting trucks". According to EPA itself, a glider generates from 4 to 40x more NOx, and 50-450 times more diesel particular matter, than more modern trucks with emissions control equipment. 

Long-haul truckers that need to operate in California should stay away from glider kits. For those that operate well away from California... It comes down to a more personal decision.