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The cost revealed

March 3, 2009
“Our emissions reduction technology for 2010 will bring immediate benefits for the air we breathe without using emissions credits, while at the same time significantly improving fuel economy for our customers.” –Scott Kress, senior vice president-sales & ...

Our emissions reduction technology for 2010 will bring immediate benefits for the air we breathe without using emissions credits, while at the same time significantly improving fuel economy for our customers.” –Scott Kress, senior vice president-sales & marketing, Volvo Trucks North America

Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) is the first OEM to take the all-important plunge when it comes to 2010 emission control technology – revealing how much it’ll cost. Late yesterday, Volvo said its trucks, equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) systems to meet the 2010 emission standards, will include a surcharge of $9,600.

Yowza! You heard it; an extra $9,600 applies to new Volvo trucks built with Volvo D11, D13 and D16 engines, as well as those with the Cummins ISX engine, sold after January 1, 2010. Scott Kress, Volvo’s senior vice president-sales & marketing, noted that pricing also includes the development of advanced onboard diagnostics (OBD) systems required by the new emissions regulations.

So now the pricing issue is out in the open, and it’s safe to say that the other truck makers should pretty quickly start laying their own cards on the table.

Mark Lampert, senior vice president of sales for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) (which builds Freightliner and Western Star trucks, among others), passed on a question to address his company’s 2010 pricing back in February at the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting.

He noted then that DTNA is still three to four months away from releasing cost increases due to the addition of SCR. “We’re still finalizing the design of these engines,” Lampert said. “Though I can tell you the engine’s size will have an impact on that cost – in terms of medium-duty versus heavy-duty engines.”

Pricing is already the big battleground when it comes to the implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions standards. That’s because every diesel engine maker and truck manufacturer EXCEPT Navistar Corp. is planning to use SCR technology to reduce the amount of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) given off in the exhaust stream down to the required level of 0.2 grams per brake horsepower hour (g/bhp-hr)

Navistar, though, is going with what it calls advanced exhaust gas recirculation (Advanced EGR) to cut NOx emissions from its MaxxForce brand of diesel engines [the 13-liter model is pictured below] down to the required level.

The battle between these technological choices – with Volvo, Mack, Freightliner, Western Star, Peterbilt, and Kenworth, on one side and Navistar all alone on the other – has been getting more and more contentious of late, with Navistar in particular throwing a lot of stones, specifically on the pricing issue.

According to a study released late last year by New York City-based NERA Economic Consulting -- a research effort funded by Navistar -- 2010-compliant Class 8 trucks using SCR systems were projected to add a surcharge of $7,000-$10,000. And though SCR reduces diesel fuel consumption, it needs to use diesel exhaust fluid or DEF (made from urea, a liquid ammonia compound) sprayed into the tailpipe in order to do so – adding an extra, ongoing cost to the system.

The pricing projection so far (at least in Volvo’s case) seems to be right on the money (no pun intended). But let’s be very clear about one important fact – ALL the heavy-duty diesel engines that’ll be sold after Jan. 1, 2010, will use EGR. It’s just that Navistar’s product line will use more of it, along with higher fuel injection pressures and other measures – especially emission credits – to reach the required level. While it makes Advanced EGR at least so far seems a less expensive option compared to SCR, it also doesn’t offer the fuel economy gains SCR technology brings to the table.

“Depending on the cost of diesel fuel, you could expect a return on the SCR technology in less than three years with fuel savings alone,” stressed David McKenna, powertrain products marketing manager for Greensboro, NC-based Mack Trucks [and that's the company's MP10 engine displayed below].

Michael Jackson – DTNA’s general manager of marketing – pointed out that Detroit Diesel Corp.’s DDC’s 2010 SCR solution should improve the average Class 8 truck’s fuel economy a net 3% over current 2007 engine models – reducing diesel fuel consumption per truck by roughly 800 gallons a year, balanced against the consumption of some 300 gallons of DEF annually.

“Our customers tell us that it [the net fuel economy increase] will give them a true competitive advantage,” he said. “For some, it means thousands of dollars are freed up to put towards new equipment. For others, that fuel economy advantage is passed on to their customers – helping them strengthen their business relationships.”

Steve Charlton, Cummins’ vice president of heavy-duty engineering , noted that it’s really the combination of EGR and SCR – along with the diesel particulate filter (DPF) – that allows those engine makers following the SCR path to meet the 2010 standards.

“Our heavy-duty ISX engine family will incorporate the XPI fuel system, proven cooled EGR, our VG turbocharger, DPF and advanced electronic controls for the best performance, fuel economy and reliability,” he said. “We have the capability to make the engine systems and aftertreatment technologies work together seamlessly [and] the addition of the new SCR catalyst technology ensures that we will deliver the best fuel economy in the industry and total operating cost benefits to our customers.”

Charlton add that the copper zeolite catalyst used in Cummins’ SCR solution should allow its 2010 engines to achieve up to a 5% improvement in fuel economy while meeting the EPA regulations,

By its own admission, Navistar expects its Advanced EGR solution to be “fuel neutral,” meaning it’ll neither improve nor decrease fuel economy in comparison to 2007 engine models, said Tim Shick, director of marketing with Navistar’s engine group. Yet he notes that by avoiding SCR, Navistar avoids all the extra gear needed to make SCR function – DEF, a DEF tank, catalyst, hoses, sensors, the works – which can add up to 400 extra pounds to a truck chassis.

“There is no doubt we can meet the 2010 emissions levels, we have trucks out there doing that today,” Shick said. “Our in-cylinder solution will increase the amount of exhaust gas recirculated into the cylinder by about 10%. Meanwhile, we’ll boost fuel injection pressures [to around 35,000 pounds per square inch (psi)] to increase engine efficiency and it may also move to a five-stage injection cycle so fuel is burned more efficiently. I can also say with full confidence we will be competitive in price.”

One caveat, though, is that Navistar plans to ramp its way up to the EPA 2010 emission levels by cashing in credits it’s collected by exceeding previous emissions requirements. That means the engines Navistar builds after January 1, 2010 will NOT meet the 0.2 g/bhp-hr standard right away. Rather, they will gradually meet those standards over the course of several years – thus requiring the OEM to make engines today that produce emissions below the 2007 standards so they’ll have credits in the bank for future use.

It’s still a very complicated picture, figuring out which technology to choose, for it’s not all about the surcharge for 2010 technology. Certainly, $9,600 extra for a new highway truck after Jan. 1, 2010, is pretty steep, but if it returns a 3% to 5% net improvement in fuel economy, it just may pay for itself. How much Navistar will charge for its 2010 solution also remains an open question, one that should get answered pretty quickly here.

One thing is for certain in all of this: truckers are now starting to get a much more complete picture of the extra costs and benefits they’ll face as they transition to new equipment after Jan. 1, 2010. And knowing those numbers can only help them plan for that transition more effectively.

About the Author

Sean Kilcarr 1 | Senior Editor

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