Over the last few months, the 2010 heavy-duty engine landscape has taken on a vastly different look. First, you have Caterpillar announcing it will not build an EPA2010-compliant on-highway engine for the North American market (yet it will partner with Navistar to build a truck).
Now, you have Cummins changing plans mid-flight and choosing to join the Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) camp, which already includes Daimler, Volvo Group and Paccar. This leaves Navistar as the lone SCR holdout – and after extensively criticizing the complexity and uncertainties surrounding SCR, it’s not likely Navistar will make the switch anytime soon.
When the Cummins announcement hit my Inbox first thing Wednesday morning, my initial reaction was surprise. Cummins has been making significant inroads in market share, both in the mid-range and heavy-duty market segments. I figured for them to change course at this point in the game, they must have encountered big-time problems in developing their in-cylinder ‘enhanced EGR’ solution.
However, in a conference call with the media later in the day, Cummins engineers stated this was not the case.
“That product was all set to launch in January, 2010,” said Steve Charlton, vice-president of heavy-duty engineering with Cummins. “The program was performing well, the product was performing well and we were hitting all our targets.”
Cummins decision to abandon its in-cylinder solution was about pursuing optimum fuel economy – it was not due to any technological impossibilities that it encountered along the way.
That bodes well for Navistar, and it also bodes well for customers who want to have an alternative to SCR available to them in 2010. However, the folks at Navistar must be a bit unnerved by the Cummins announcement. The rewards of going it alone could be great – but so too are the risks (look no further than Caterpillar’s ultimate withdrawal from the market after being the only company to really carve its own path in 2002).
Clearly, Cummins shift to SCR has placed a lot of momentum on SCR’s side. However, if there’s a company that isn’t afraid to take a chance, it’s Navistar. Look at the company’s latest product introduction – the unique and incomparable International LoneStar. The truck is a radical departure from anything else on the road today and it seems to have been greeted by the industry with much enthusiasm. Will the same be said about the non-SCR MaxxForce engine in 2010? Only time will tell.
Navistar proved with the introduction of the International LoneStar that it’s not afraid to be different.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies