Navistar Submits 13-Liter Engine to EPA, Says New Model Meets Emissions Rule

By Howard S. Abramson, Editorial Director

This story appears in the Feb. 6 print edition of Transport Topics.

LISLE, Ill. — Navistar Inc. has formally submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency a 13-liter heavy-duty engine model that it says meets current federal emissions standards.

The truck and engine maker delivered its engine to EPA on Jan. 31, the eve of its quarterly meeting with Wall Street analysts, said James Hebe, Navistar’s senior vice president for North American sales. EPA now will evaluate the model and determine its suitability.

Hebe said Navistar now has “done what has never been done in the world” by any other engine maker, namely to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions to 0.2 gram per brake horsepower-hour without adding urea to the exhaust stream.

The company’s “in-cylinder solution,” he said, would prove superior to competitors’ models because fleets won’t have to deal with the components of additional exhaust treatment or have to add fluid to the exhaust.

All other heavy-duty engine manufacturers reduce NOx by injecting a urea solution into the exhaust, which interacts with a catalytic converter to remove NOx. That method is called selective catalytic reduction. Navistar relies entirely on exhaust gas recirculation to remove NOx.

Navistar delivered its engine model just days after EPA revealed that it would assess the company up to $1,900 for every heavy-duty engine it sells that doesn’t meet the 0.2-gram standard, after the company exhausts credits that have allowed it to sell engines since 2010 that emit more NOx than the regulation’s limit (1-30, p. 1).

Navistar has been applying credits it earned in past years when some of its engines burned more cleanly than federal standards required.

Now, Navistar is close to exhausting those credits and is moving to meet the emissions standards without them.

At a dinner meeting with reporters here, Hebe said the new engine model is virtually identical to the earlier one and that the improvements are largely software changes. He said there would be no price changes for the new engine.

“Essentially, there’s no change in the engine,” Dan Ustian, Navistar’s president and CEO, said at the Feb. 1 analyst meeting at company headquarters here. “It’s all in the controls. The customer won’t even know the difference. There will be no change in performance, no change in fuel efficiency.”

Ustian termed the potential EPA penalty “Plan B. We don’t intend to use Plan B,” he said, adding that he was hopeful EPA would certify the engine in time to prevent such fines.

Margaret Oge, director of EPA’s Office of Transportation and Air Quality, said earlier that the fine was adopted as a way to allow Navistar to continue selling engines in case the new model isn’t certified in time. Without such a fine regime, she said, the company would have to cease selling the model.

Hebe also said Navistar was asking EPA to grant it the flexibility he said it has given to the OEMs that employ SCR, such as allowing their engines to temporarily exceed emissions standards at some times, such as before they reach normal operating temperature.

“We can’t get optimum performance out of the new engine without” that flexibility from EPA, he said, although the engines would operate satisfactorily and within federal standards but would lose some fuel efficiency and power.

Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group, said the company wants to make sure “that we’re treated fairly, on an equitable basis,” by EPA.

Hebe said Navistar was prepared to go into production of the new engine as soon as EPA certifies it as compliant.

He said that EPA’s action last week wasn’t a surprise. “We’ve known for two years” that the company would run out of credits about this time.

Hebe said Navistar had enough credits to continue selling the current engine in the 10 states that have adopted the stricter emissions rules set by the California Air Resources Board until EPA acts on its new model.

He said the company would do whatever it takes to continue selling the engines in all other states and that any additional costs would be borne by Navistar, and not by its customers.

Hebe said that, “based on past experience,” he didn’t expect EPA to take very long to certify the new engine.

Allen told reporters after the analyst meeting on Feb. 1 that the company would submit its 11-liter and 15-liter models to EPA for certification as soon as the 13-liter model, the workhorse of the fleet, is approved.

Meanwhile, Hebe also took strong exception to comments by Denny Slagle, head of North American operations for the Volvo Group, criticizing EPA and Navistar.

Slagle told Transport Topics Jan. 26 that the $1,900 fine prospect “is outrageously unfair and another blatant accommodation by the EPA to a company that adopted a failed emissions strategy.” He said the fines weren’t high enough.

Hebe said Slagle “didn’t have the right” to make such a comment, and he wondered if his competitor “will be man enough” to apologize after EPA certifies Navistar’s new engine.


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