The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants the industry to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 24% by 2027 through building more efficient models.
It says the new standards would reduce overall fuel costs by $170bn and oil consumption by up to 1.8bn barrels over a vehicle’s lifetime.
The EPA estimates it would cut total emissions by about 1bn metric tons.
Medium and heavy-duty vehicles account for about 20% of US gas emissions but make up only 5% of road traffic, according to government calculations.
“These efficiency standards are good for the environment and the economy,” said the US Transport Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement.
“When trucks use less fuel, shipping costs go down. It’s good news all around, especially for anyone with an online shopping habit,” he continued.
Gina McCarthy, chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, added that the rules would deliver “big time” on President Obama’s call to cut carbon pollution.
She said they would save consumers, business and lorry-owners money as well as helping to protect Americans’ health.
The industry body, the American Trucking Association (ATA), said it was broadly supportive of the move but that it was concerned that it might lead to new technology being used before it was ready.
“We believe this rule could result in the deployment of certain technologies that do not fully recognise the diversity of our industry and could prove to be unreliable, said Glen Kedzie of the ATA.
“This unreliability could slow not only adoption of these technologies, but the environmental benefits they aim to create.”
The rules would be phased in, beginning with models built in 2021 in order to give manufacturers time to adjust. By 2027 they should all fully meet the standards.
There will be a two-month public consultation period with a view to a final version being implemented next year.