Rolf Lockwood

December 3, 2008 Vol. 4, No. 25

No, I don’t mean by the headline above that the engines of our present emissions standard are more durable than others, though that would be welcome news to many cash-strapped truck operators. And that’s really the point.

What I mean is that there’s a move afoot to have the Environmental Protection Agency allow engines to be built and sold to the 2007 spec beyond the next emissions deadline in January of 2010.

Now, don’t hold your breath, but a couple of weeks back the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) called for “a restructured timeline, phasing in the new emission standards to allow ample breathing room and build confidence within the trucking industry.” Navistar has since said it supports the idea, or a variation on the theme.

Citing a study looking at the implications of the next emissions rules, funded by Navistar, the Missouri-based owner-operator group said there will be a sharp drop in new truck sales after 2010. It said truck operators will be unwilling or unable to pay the anticipated premium — likely to average about US$7000. Fear of the new ‘010 emissions technology will also cause buyers to steer clear of truck purchases. The result will be market disruption and job losses, OOIDA said, not to mention a delay in the environmental benefits intended by the 2010 EPA standard.

“Truckers and fleets are simply going to hold onto their equipment for a longer period of time, if they are able to hold onto it at all,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA.

“With record-high diesel fuel prices earlier this year, trucking companies have already faced nearly insurmountable challenges trying to stay in business,” he said. “It’s the worst possible time for the trucking industry to take on a high stakes gamble with no known level of reliability of the technologies or return on investment.”

Navistar’s position on this has been reported a little inaccurately in at least one case, characterized as a call to delay implementation of the 2010 rules. That’s not the case.

“We are not calling for a delay or a postponement,” Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley told me. “These are catastrophic economic times so what we want is the government to allow us to continue selling both 2007 and 2010 engines [after the January 2010 deadline].

“We’re saying, OK, let’s help these guys who can’t afford new engines… We’re saying something has to be done.

“We’re ready for 2010,” Wiley said. “Bring it on, we say.”

If you’d like to look at the study I mentioned above, by NERA Economic Consulting, you can download it HERE.

NAVISTAR, OF COURSE, IS THE ONE AND ONLY ENGINE MAKER using exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology to comply with the rigorous 2010 rules. All the others will use selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which promises to bring with it a fuel-economy gain of 3 to 5%.

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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