It's What You Don't See

Make no mistake about it: the 2007 federal emission regulations are going to have a profound impact on vocational trucks and their owners, affecting everything from engines and exhaust systems to fuel and engine oil. Those changes will substantially drive up vehicle costs.

However, in some ways, the revolution sparked by the regulations is going to be a quiet one, truck experts say. That's because fleet owners and operators aren't going to “see” much of a difference in their vehicles, other than slightly bigger engine hoods and the presence of diesel particulate filters (DPF) instead of exhaust mufflers. Nor will they “feel” much difference, as the fueling and driving procedures for '07 trucks will remain unchanged.

The lack of surface changes isn't a happy accident, either — it's by the design of trucking manufacturers and suppliers who have focused on how to meet the emission targets with minimal impact on the physical characteristics of commercial trucks, both vocational and over-the-road.

The Devil's in Aftertreatment

The significant reductions in emissions will entail a significant bump in vehicle costs, as truck makers must add new aftertreatment systems to meet the requirements. Warrenville, Ill.-based International Truck and Engine Corp. is the first original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to reveal in hard numbers what the cost of the emissions rule changes is going to be — and the result isn't pretty.

Dee Kapur, president of International's truck group, says that base prices on the company's Class 8 tractors and vocational chassis are increasing $7,000 to $10,000 per unit with medium-duty trucks and school buses increasing between $5,000 to $6,000 for '07.

“We recognize that this is a significant increase in [truck] pricing,” he says. But Kapur also notes that International and other OEMs are trying to mitigate the increases by lobbying for a 5 percent federal tax credit for truck owners that buy the new trucks between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2007.

Vocational trucks — especially refuse haulers — could feel the financial impact more than buyers of on-the-road vehicles because the bodies the DPF and other aftertreatment components must be placed in are more complex in vocational trucks, says Tom Vatter, vice president of sales and marketing for Autocar, a Hagerstown, Ind.-based vocational truck maker. The extra cooling packaging and aftertreatment systems for Autocar's style of low-cab forward heavy-duty truck chassis could push base sticker prices up $8,000 to $12,000, Vatter says, although he cautions the final price is still to be determined.

Minimal Impact on Specs

In contrast to the effects of the new regulations on pricing, truck experts do not foresee much of an impact on vehicle specifications. “In general, vocational customers are going to see very small changes,” says Landon Sproull, chief engineer for Peterbilt Motors Co., a Denton, Texas-based truck maker.

What changes they do see will depend largely on the type of truck application because the type of body placed on the truck chassis is going to determine where the DPF and other components can be located, Sproull says. “In some cases, the DPF will run along the right frame rail, horizontally under the cab. In others it may be vertically mounted on the back of the cab — if there's enough room.”

Under-cab location of the DPF is going to cause fuel tanks and battery boxes to shift, though the extent of that shift is going to depend on the specific set-up a fleet uses, says Matt Stevenson, director of product marketing for Redford, Mich.-based Sterling Trucks. “A fleet using dual fuel tanks, for example, may have to go to a single tank set up — it's really application specific,” he says. “For refuse trucks, however, onboard fuel capacity isn't a major need so this specific spec'ing situation won't affect them nearly as much.”

Changes in vocational truck weight also appear to be minimal. Alterations to the exhaust aftertreatment system — including the addition of a DPF — should only add 100 to 200 pounds to the vehicle, depending on the horsepower rating of the engine, Stevenson says.

The addition of a DPF to the exhaust system won't be overwhelming because it is only six inches larger in diameter and two inches longer than the catalyst/muffler it replaces, says Bill Sixsmith, director of International Truck's severe service product division. “There's an impact to some degree as to where you mount the DPF, but that should be minimal,” he adds.

Larger radiator and cooling packages to handle the higher heat rejection produced by '07 model engines — 30 percent more heat than the '02 emission-compliant models — are going to be needed, but this shouldn't impact the forward visibility of truck drivers.

Sproull adds that fleets that use their refuse trucks as snowplows won't lose that capability because of changes to the hood or cooling packaging. “We're going to be able to manage the change to higher capacity cooling systems without much impact on the truck's performance,” he says. “Besides, trucks in the refuse market are already heavily customized anyway.”

Education is Crucial

While the effect on vocational truck specifications will be limited, OEMs say there is still a tremendous need to educate fleet owners and operators about what the 2007 regulations entail. “The biggest issue for fleets is understanding the new technology, the new training, and new parts and service requirements involved,” Sixsmith says.

For example, truck operators need to be brought up to speed on the impact of vehicle changes on fuel economy, which will drop — especially in trucks, such as refuse collection vehicles, that do a lot of “starting and stopping.” Such vehicles don't generate enough consistent engine heat to clean out DPFs using a passive regeneration system, which will require them to use a fuel-burning “active” regeneration process.

Fleet managers also need to understand that the chemical formulations of engine oil for 2007 will be changing because its performance characteristics cannot be detrimental to aftertreatment devices such as DPFs or oxidation catalysts, says Dan Arcy, with Houston-based Shell Lubricants. He adds that fleet operators should understand that the use of exhaust gas re-circulation will increase in 2007 models, which will create more work for the engine oil.

Operators also need to prepare for how 2007 trucks are going to handle low-speed operations, says Mark Neale, product specialist for Autocar. “Since engine heat could increase upwards of 40 percent, more fan-on time is probably going to be required at idle — taking away between 60 to 65 horsepower of engine power,” he says. “That could affect how the hydraulic system operates at idle as well as vehicle drivability.”

With all of the issues involved with the regulations, truck makers will step up their educational efforts in the coming year. Allentown, Pa.-based Mack Trucks, for example, is hosting customer clinics throughout the United States and Canada in conjunction with its distributor network. The sessions — conducted by the North American Institute, which is Mack's and Greensboro, N.C.-based Volvo's distributor and customer training operation — will explain how the 2007 regulations will affect trucks and operations.

“[Distributors and customers] are understandably concerned about what 2007 is going to bring, particularly the impact on their businesses,” says Paul Vikner, Mack's president and CEO. “We owe it to them to communicate how we plan to meet these standards, and, quite frankly, put their minds at ease about 2007.” More than 80 customers have participated in four five-hour clinics conducted by the North American Institute to date this year.

Autocar is going to address customer concerns both at the company and the dealer level, Vatter says. “At the OEM level, we're making sure our dealers and service personnel understand what's changing — and we're going to include customers in that training process as well,” he says. “Dealers are also going to provide the same education and training to customers to address specific issues.”

Autocar expects to have '07 compliant trucks undertaking real world test miles by the first quarter of 2006, generating data that can be released to truck purchasers, Vatter adds. “We're also working with our body builders so they understand how '07 is going to change things on their end,” he says.

International will conduct a series of what it calls “town-hall meetings” nationwide in 2006 to help educate its dealers and customers about the '07 technology changes. “These are going to be regional one-day sessions to give our dealers and customers the facts about 2007 emission regulations, along with question-and-answer sessions featuring both our marketing and engineering personnel,” Sixsmith says.

“Education is vital because many vocational customers really don't know what's going to happen in 2007 — that's a big hurdle,” adds Sterling's Stevenson. “They want to know about the cost of '07 emission control components, the cost of ULSD fuel, change in maintenance cycles, that kind of information. There's also a lot of false information out there, a lot of rumors about the cost and capability of '07 trucks that have to be dispelled.”

Sean Kilcarr is senior editor for Waste Age's sister publication, Fleet Owner.


The truck emission regulations have come in stages. In October 2002, the Washington-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required new heavy-duty diesel engines to emit no more than 0.1 grams per brake horsepower hour (g/bhp-hr) of particulate matter (PM), 2 g/bhp-hr oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and between 0.4 and 0.5 g/bhp-hr of non-methane hydrocarbons (NMHC). The NOx and NMHC measurements typically are combined for testing at 2.5 g/bhp-hr. In 2004, the rules were expanded to include medium- and light-duty diesel truck engines.

By 2007, emission level requirements for new diesel engines will become even stricter. PM emission levels decrease to 0.01 g/bhp-hr, NOx to 0.2 g/bhp-hr and NMHC to 0.14 g/bhp-hr. The PM requirement will be implemented fully in 2007, while the NOx and NMHC requirement will be phased-in between 2007 and 2010. As a result, new diesel engines in 2010 will produce less than 10 percent of the emissions of 2001 models.

To meet the 2007 rules, the sulfur content of diesel is being reduced. In 2006, diesel sulfur will drop to 15 parts per million (ppm) from the current 500 ppm. The EPA recently announced that terminals have until Sept. 1, 2006, and retailers have until Oct. 15, 2006, to begin offering the ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD). The agency also is requiring that, by 2010, 100 percent of the diesel fuel sold in the country meet the 15 ppm standard.

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