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July 4, 2012 Vol. 8, No. 14

Well, well, well… it looks as if Navistar is giving up on its ‘advanced’ exhaust gas recirculation emissions strategy in favor of selective catalytic reduction. So said an article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, and so far there’s been no denial. In fact, the WSJ story apparently arose from a leaked document and by all accounts it surprised even some upper-echelon Navistar employees.

On Monday the company sent invitations to journalists and others to join in a webcast on Friday morning, without describing the subject. Speculation now is that the company intended to make its SCR announcement then.

Some observers have been predicting this dramatic switch for ages, especially once it became clear that the company was struggling to make its EGR engines meet Environmental Protection Agency current emissions standards. That prediction gained strength when Navistar suffered two consecutive quarters of heavy losses and falling share prices, compounded by heavy warranty claims.

Opting to go with SCR this late in the game would not be without its challenges, and one key question arises: will Navistar develop an SCR system for its Maxxforce engines or will it, at least in the interim, opt to sell Cummins SCR diesels? If it’s to be the latter, there would be more than a little irony involved — prior to the arrival of 2010 EPA regs, Cummins was publicly convinced that it could meet the emissions standards without resorting to SCR. Navistar was planning to use Cummins engines for its big-bore 15-liter offering until the engine-maker did a 180-degree turn and opted for SCR instead of EGR. Another pair of such turns could put the Cummins ISX in International trucks after all.

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. There’s progress to report on the proposed rule for stability control systems in the U.S., and implicitly Canada. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will hold a public hearing in Washington on July 24. A notice of proposed rulemaking was posted on May 23.

The rule would demand that tractors and certain large buses with a GVW of more than 26,000 lb be equipped with an electronic stability control system – not roll stability control (RSC) but electronic stability control (ESC).

ESC systems use engine torque control and computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle in situations in which the vehicle is becoming unstable and in danger of rolling.

The five major topics that are discussed in the NPRM include: the size of the safety problem we’re dealing with; how ESC works; the research and testing that were separately conducted by NHTSA and the industry to evaluate the potential safety benefits of ESC and to develop dynamic vehicle test maneuvers to evaluate ESC performance; the specifics of the proposal, including ESC equipment and performance criteria, testing requirements, and the implementation schedule; and the benefits and costs of the proposal.

In the somewhat unlikely event that any of you might want to take part, the  hearing will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the U.S. Department of Transportation in Washington, D.C., West Building Ground Floor, Media Center – Room W11-130, 1200 New Jersey Ave. SE. NHTSA says each speaker will have about 10 minutes to state his case.

Written statements and supporting information submitted during the comment period will be considered with the same weight as oral comments and supporting information presented at the public hearing.

E-mail me if you want details on how to submit comments. Or look at the federal eRulemaking portal here.

, how about ‘I-See’ from Volvo Trucks? It’s not available in North America quite yet – and we have no timeline — but will be launched in Europe next year. It’s aimed at saving fuel, while also reducing brake and tire wear, and I’m guessing there will be some who won’t like one key aspect of it — it operates "like an autopilot" and takes over gear-shifting while using hills to save fuel. The thing some people won’t like is that it puts the truck in freewheeling mode fairly often, depending on the topography. By and large drivers don’t enjoy that very much.

To hear Volvo tell it, one way to cut fuel consumption is to use the truck’s own kinetic energy, or the mechanical work needed to reduce an object’s speed to zero. As I understand things, and I haven’t talked to a Volvo engineer about this yet, the I-See system must capture brake-generated heat and

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

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