Long-haul truckers can count on more restful sleep while meeting reduced diesel emissions thanks to a new product expected to make significant inroads in the coming years from Behr America Inc.

The German supplier announces its No-Idle Air-Conditioning system (NIA/C) will appear as original equipment on a heavy-duty truck in the U.S. this year.

The system allows for the cabin to stay cool (or warm in cold climates) while the truck's engine is off. Most heavy-duty trucks in the U.S. are equipped with beds, TVs and other appliances as a home away from home for cross-country drivers.

To run such devices, truckers park their vehicles and let the diesels idle for hours to ensure that batteries remain charged while they sleep or relax, putting unnecessary stress on the engine and the environment.

“During rest periods, drivers normally idle their 400-500-hp engines to power loads that require a little more than 10 hp to operate,” says Frank Mueller, Behr America president and CEO.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates 960 million gallons (3.6 billion L) of diesel fuel are burned annually in the U.S. by idling trucks, wasting an estimated $2.6 billion. Idling also can add an equivalent of 20,000 miles (32,186 km) a year to a truck's engine.

Behr's answer is a separate electronic compressor, evaporator, condenser and heating unit that run off the truck's auxiliary power unit, which produces energy with a tiny 1-cyl. diesel engine. APUs have become common in U.S. heavy trucks.

The device is not cheap. An APU, alone, which Behr does not produce, costs several thousand dollars. Mueller tells Ward's the NIA/C system likely will cost between $2,000 and $4,000 at the retail level.

Behr's NIA/C system arrives as vehicle makers scramble to meet more stringent diesel emissions regulations and as consumers cope with soaring prices of diesel fuel.