EPA2010 – Myths and Realities: Part 4

As January 2010 draws near, fleet managers and owner/operators will have to decide between two competing technologies to meet EPA2010 emissions standards. By now, most will know that Navistar is going to ramp up exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) levels in order to become EPA2010-compliant, while all other manufacturers are employing the exhaust aftertreatment system known as Selective Catalytic Reduction(SCR).
Each solution has its advantages and each also presents some concerns.
This is Part 4 in a series of blogs that will address some concerns and/or myths about EPA2010 emissions standards and both of the solutions that will be presented to the market. These blogs will be comprised of information obtained through many interviews I’ve conducted on the subject and plenty of additional research.
If you’re a stakeholder in this debate, and wish to comment on any of the points below, feel free to post a comment. Some spirited comments were posted in response to Part 1 and hopefully those contributors will stick around and answer any questions you may have on the subject of 2010 emissions solutions.
In Part 4 of the series, we’ll look at the anticipated costs of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF), the extra ingredient required by SCR systems.
EPA2010 FACT: The cost of DEF is still uncertain
The expected price of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is a tricky topic, because like all commodities, its cost will be dictated by supply and demand. However, at this time, the supply and the demand are both yet to be determined.
Make no mistake, there will be plenty of suppliers stepping up to meet the needs of the industry by producing and distributing DEF. In recent weeks: Cummins Filtration announced it would be providing DEF to the trucking industry; Pilot Travel Centres reaffirmed its intent to sell DEF ‘at the pump’; and Terra Environmental Technologies announced a supply agreement with Brenntag North America.
Availability will not be a concern, but what about cost? In the third segment of this blog series, we looked at the potential fuel-savings touted by engine manufacturers using SCR. Much of the actual bottom line savings will hinge on the cost of DEF – and for that matter, diesel.
(It’s worth noting that since that post, Detroit Diesel unveiled its EPA2010 SCR package to media, and insisted its solution will deliver a 3% NET fuel savings, after taking into account the expected cost and consumption of DEF).
But back to price…what exactly is DEF going to cost?
“We can’t predict what prices will be for DEF or even diesel fuel,” admitted Mark Lampert, senior vice-president, sales for Daimler Trucks North America at the recent Technology and Maintenance Council meetings. “(But) DEF prices will not be the problem that one competitor will have you believe.”
That competitor, of course, is Navistar, which has circulated pictures of a jug of DEF it found near Frankfurt, Germany with a price tag equal to US$12/gallon. However, with suppliers and distributors eagerly entering the North American DEF market, it’s very unlikely that DEF will cost anywhere’s near that much here.
The best guesses at the TMC trade show, according to technical editor John G. Smith, were that DEF will cost between $5 and $6 per gallon, with bulk quantities costing less than that. However, he added “Of course, every price is a best guess. Nobody knows what diesel will cost in January either.”

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at james@newcom.ca or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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  • Hello James,
    As much as you say that distribution of DEF will not be an issue, I have concerns about how well DEF will be distributed in areas like Northern Ontario. Many places in Northern Ontario you drive 100+ km before coming to a small town of about 4,000 people. This is an area where supply will be restricted, and truck drivers should make sure they have an extra supply on hand if travelling this route. With supply restricted in these areas, you can bet on a premium being charged for DEF.
    I would appreciate your insite on this issue.
    Rob McGinn,
    Truck Sales Manager,

  • Hi Rob, I agree that all drivers would be well-advised to carry an extra jug of DEF with them.
    However, I think supply and price will be non-issues even in Northern Ontario. How far is your nearest: Volvo, Mack, Detroit Diesel, Cummins or Paccar dealer? They will all be DEF distributors, and they have a vested interest in keeping costs competitive if they expect you to purchase their engines. I don’t think you’ll see any price gouging from them.
    As far as fuel stations go – there’s more potential for price gouging there, but hopefully the dealers will keep them honest by offering DEF at competitive prices.
    Hope that helps,