’07: The cost of clean

’07: The cost of clean

TAMPA, FL. The total price picture of getting trucks to meet EPA’s more stringent emission standard in 2007 is starting to develop from the equipment to the maintenance and fuel levels here at the annual Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) meeting

TAMPA, FL. The total price picture of getting trucks to meet EPA’s more stringent emission standard in 2007 is starting to develop from the equipment to the maintenance and fuel levels here at the annual Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) meeting.

Presentations and conversations with truck manufacturers, engine makers, and various suppliers illuminated a variety of cost areas fleets need to watch – starting with base sticker prices for new vehicles, new CJ-4 engine oil, and ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD) fuel, yet also including diesel particulate filter (DPF) exchange and cleaning technology costs.

“We are on the threshold of major technology introductions in 2007,” said Bob Wessels, director of product strategy for Caterpillar. “It also proves the old bromide true – one thing about change is that there is always more of it.”

Vehicle costs

International Truck & Engine Corp. announced late last year that it expected sticker prices for 2007-compliant medium-duty trucks and school buses would rise between $5,000 and $6,000, while Class 8 and vocational truck costs could go up $7,000 to $10,000 per unit.

Howard Lukens, GM/southern region for Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC), indicated in late January that his company’s research indicated that the changes brought on by 2007 emission regulations should increase the average Class 8 vehicle’s price by $6,638, along with additional yearly maintenance costs of $367.

At TMC, Volvo Trucks North America said prices for its 2007 model tractors and vocational trucks would increase $7,500.

John Walsh, spokesman for Mack Trucks – Volvo’s sister company – said sticker prices for Mack’s highway products are going to rise by $7,000. “We explained this to our highway customers and dealer in a letter this February,” he told FleetOwner. “But as of yet we haven’t released what the price impact 2007 is going to have on our vocational products.”

New oils

New engine oil is also going to be required for 2007 engines, one completely reformulated to help protect the DPF portion of the aftertreatment system. Yet Reginald Dias, director of commercial products for ConocoPhillips, told FleetOwner that pricing for CJ-4 still isn’t set.

“The chemistry for CJ-4 is significantly different than any of the oils preceding it,” he explained. “So are also still trying to pin down the economics around the oil – for example, all the testing that must be done. Caterpillar’s C-13 test last 500 hours and costs more than $100,000 – and it’s likely we’ll need more than one test to pass it. That’s partly why our costs haven’t been confirmed yet and why we haven’t indicated pricing yet.”

Dan Arcy, technical expert for Shell, stressed that while CJ-4 oil is going to be more costly than today’s CI-4 and CI-4 Plus blends, prices aren’t going to double.

Clean diesel

On the fuel side, ULSD – which has a sulfur content of 15 parts per million (ppm) compared to today’s 500 ppm fuel. It is expected to cost from five to 13 cents more per gallon, and is mandated to replace today’s higher sulfur diesel by Oct. 15 in retail outlets. Meeting that deadline means refineries must start making ULSD June 1 with a seven to 8 ppm level since it’s expected to pick up sulfur as its transport to fuel distribution centers on Aug. 1, said Dias.

No filthy filters

On the DPF side of the equation, some big numbers await fleets in terms of the price of the machines needed to clean the filters as well as the service fee involved.

Chuck Blake, applications engineer for DDC, said that right now, the cost of exchanging a “dirty” DPF – one loaded with ash that needs to be removed – for a clean one could cost in the neighborhood of $300 to $500 per transaction. The machines used for cleaning DPFs themselves are expensive as well – $8,000 to $15,000 for ones using compressed air to remove ash and $50,000 for a liquid cleaning system, said Blake. DDC is the only engine maker right now planning to use the liquid cleaning system.

Bill Stahl, director of OEM sales for Cummins, echoed Blake’s comment, adding that he estimates DPF cleaning devices using compressed air should cost around $8,000. Yet Cummins believes most fleets are going to opt to send their filters to a dealership or distributor to have them cleaned rather than invest in the cleaning technology themselves.

“Remember, we expect most fleets won’t need to clean out these filters until somewhere between 200,000 and 400,000 miles,” he told FleetOwner. “For some fleets, depending on their application, they won’t need to clean the filter at all over the time period the own that truck.”

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