By Frederick Kiel, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the April 7 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As competing engine makers continued their public battle over the best technology for meeting 2010 federal emission standards, analysts said the outcome of the competition could dramatically transform the industry.
In remarks at the Mid-America Trucking Show here, executives of Mack Trucks Inc. and Daimler Trucks North America vigorously defended their companies’ planned use of selective catalytic reduction, while a leader of International Truck and Engine Corp. touted his decision to stay away from SCR and use exhaust gas recirculation.
Meanwhile, Bruce Plaxton, president of truck consulting firm BGP Marketing Solutions, Schaumburg, Ill., said that the 2010 emissions dispute could change the industry’s landscape.
“More stuff is going on in the background than anyone realizes, and I could easily see that 2010 will lead to major consolidations in the industry.” Plaxton told Transport Topics, based on his conversations with industry leaders. “The cost to develop these engines is absolutely mind-boggling.”
Christopher Brady, president of truck consulting firm Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting, Manhasset, N.Y., told TT that, “unlike 2004 and 2007, 2010 will be the first time that the truck manufacturers will be offering two completely different engine technologies.”
“Fleets will be choosing on the basis of what is best for them, and that will have the potential to trigger major shifts in market shares among the OEMs,” Brady said. “If major fleets don’t feel comfortable, they can move their entire purchases to another brand. That is the real potential with this.”
Plaxton and Brady said they had no idea how the competition will play out.
“What happens in the laboratory and on the road are not necessarily the same thing,” Plaxton said. “The system that will probably win out is what is the most durable when the tire hits the road.”
Paul Vikner, vice chairman of the Mack Trucks board of directors, told reporters here March 27. “We are very much absolutely convinced that SCR is the right technology for 2010 and beyond.” He had been chief executive officer of Mack until April 1.
SCR is “not a stopgap technology, and it’s going to be very well accepted in trucking,” Vikner said.
Earlier, Daimler executives attacked “misinformation and scare tactics” about SCR (3-31, p. 1).
The battleground has been set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which set standards for 2010 that virtually eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions to practically zero.
To cut NOx, SCR mixes urea into engine exhaust, where it becomes a catalyst in a filter that converts NOx into nitrogen and water. EGR circulates some engine exhaust gas back into the engine to cool combustion, reducing NOx.
Daimler, maker of Freightliner trucks and Detroit Diesel engines, Volvo AB, which owns Mack and Volvo Trucks, and Paccar Inc., producer of Kenworth and Peterbilt trucks, all have said they will use SCR, widely used in Europe but new for trucks in North America, in their 2010 heavy-duty engines.
International and engine maker Cummins Inc. have said they will use only exhaust gas recirculation, which has been used on trucks since 2002.
In a press conference, Dee Kapur, president of Navistar Truck Group, took aim at SCR, pointing to drawings he said illustrated the differences between EGR system and SCR.
“Look at the extra components that the SCR system has to use: an extra tank, an extra emissions system, in addition to the diesel particulate filter,” Kapur said.
“You’re going to have many more maintenance issues and more parts that can break down with SCR,” he said.
Navistar, which is International’s corporate parent, handed out a pamphlet that reads, “There is no delivery infrastructure in place to support urea distribution in North America for 2010 . . . the need for urea demands a separate tank that will add weight and reduce payload . . . SCR urea must be a high grade and a precise solution to avoid catalyst damage and assure system integrity.”
David McKenna, Mack’s powertrain sales and marketing manager, disputed Navistar’s claim of urea availability problems.
“You only need a tiny amount of urea for every gallon of diesel you burn,” McKenna told TT. “If a fleet specs out its trucks with 300-gallon diesel tanks, the urea tank would only have to be 7.5 gallons in size to run that truck for two-and-a-half to three fill-ups. There won’t be any problems finding enough urea.”
At an earlier press gathering, James Kelly, president of Cummins’ engine division, said Cummins will use SCR for its medium-duty engines and EGR for heavy-duty, echoing International’s warnings of possible problems of finding urea.
“Medium-duty trucks come home every night and won’t have to worry about finding urea,” Kelly said.
“Long-distance fleets do not need another component to worry about in running their businesses, especially something that can shut them down, such as being unable to find urea,” he noted.
Kelly said that 2010 SCR trucks must have a system to de-power and eventually shut off the engine if the system runs out of urea.