Rolf Lockwood

January 28, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 2

Last time out I told you that the Maxxforce 15 engine that Navistar International announced to analysts a couple of weeks ago was in fact a Caterpillar C15. It was speculation on my part but I wasn’t really out on much of a limb and it’s since been confirmed, though neither company is saying much at all. It remains to be seen whether Cat builds it for Navistar, or whether the truck maker builds it under licence in one of its existing plants. The formal announcement will come at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

It’s also been confirmed to my satisfaction, though by no means officially, that Cummins 15-liter engines won’t be seen in International trucks after 2010. That was perhaps inevitable after the Indiana engine-maker decided last year to go with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) as its 2010 emissions technology. Navistar remains a staunch — and voluble — supporter of advanced EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) and was left scrambling to find a non-SCR solution for big-bore engines after the Cummins switcheroo. Or suffer the indignity of praising EGR on its smaller motors while selling big ones with SCR. With an arrangement already in the works for other sorts of co-operation, Cat was a natural place for Navistar to turn.

What also remains to be seen, though I’ll guess, is whether the Cat/Maxxforce 15 retains ACERT emissions technology. Quite a few reports suggest that latter-day ACERT engines have posed operational problems, but it was always a compromise solution anyway. Since the vast majority of Cat’s engine build was for non-truck applications, the engine couldn’t be optimized for both on-highway and off-highway use because what works, in emissions terms, for a low-speed engine with no ram air doesn’t work for a high-speed engine hurtling down the Interstate at 70 mph.

So my guess is that Navistar will scrap ACERT and use a more conventional solution already developed for its smaller diesels. The larger capacity changes many things in the EGR equation, so there’s lots of engineering work to be done. And I expect that’s why we won’t see this engine until 2011 at the earliest, quite possibly later. In the meantime, International buyers will have to settle for the Maxxforce 13. A perfectly capable engine, I’m sure, but maybe not big enough for everyone.

Big-bore 15-liter motors have about 20% of the U.S. market, more like 30% in Canada.

Oh, before I leave this topic, my friend Dave McKenna at Mack alerted me to a gaffe in the January 14th edition of this newsletter in which I mistakenly referred to nitrous oxide as one of the noxious emissions from diesel engines. It’s nitrogen oxide, of course, otherwise known as NOx. Nitrous oxide is laughing gas, and its moniker is N2O. I do this all the time for some reason. Sorry, folks.

AND ON THE HYBRID FRONT, A CLEAN FIRST IN VICTORIA, where R&B Trucking has what’s being called the only refrigerated delivery truck powered by diesel-electric hybrid means on the continent. The company, run by Paul Cunnington, is a delivery agent for Clark Freightways. It has 28 trucks on the road, this one being the only hybrid.

Rolf Lockwood

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

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