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Caterpillar ready to roll out ACERT engine lineup (May 01, 2003)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The battle of competing engine technologies is heating up now that Caterpillar's ACERT-technology driven engines are coming up for certification and the engine maker came out guns bl...


EPA-PREPARED: Caterpillar's heavy-duty C11 engine will be available in December, 2003.
EPA-PREPARED: Caterpillar's heavy-duty C11 engine will be available in December, 2003.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The battle of competing engine technologies is heating up now that Caterpillar’s ACERT-technology driven engines are coming up for certification and the engine maker came out guns blasting at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

The company made several bold claims of superior performance for its engines over cooled EGR, the engine technology most of the other engine manufacturers employed to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2002 emissions standards. These included fuel economy gains of three to five per cent over cooled EGR.

Jim Parker, vice-president, power systems marketing division, says that for a fleet getting an average of 6.5 mpg and paying an average $1.70/gallon (a low estimate at the moment) the better fuel efficiency would result in $5,000 savings over 500,000 miles.

He adds that research shows EGR technology will also result in three more repairs per 500,000 miles at an average total cost of $2,100 and 25 per cent less life to overhaul than 2001 engines. Meanwhile, he claims, ACERT technology will deliver the same reliability as 2001 engines. Parker also says Cat’s own research shows ACERT engines would deliver $700-$3,000 better resale values.

“We spent several years and millions of dollars looking at EGR. We had intimate knowledge of that technology and we abandoned it,” Parker says.

But it seems that technology will come with a higher price tag. Although Parker would not reveal a specific price, he did say: “We intend to sell it at a premium. It will be a significant premium and it will be well deserved. This is far and away the most advanced engine today. It is far and away the best value…It is a game changing technology.”

Strong words, but Parker says Caterpillar has invested heavily in the project. In fact, the ACERT engines mark the largest product development undertaken by Cat.

The ACERT technology is actually the result of investment in four core engine systems: fuel systems, air systems, electronics and aftertreatment.

The key to the technology, according to Cat, is an efficient combustion process. Computer algorithms identify the optimum settings for the lowest possible NOx emissions and fuel economy. Conventional, electronically wastegated turbochargers, in series on heavy-duty engines, coupled with hydraulic-assist valve control yield what Cat considers a “robust, flexible air management system.”

The system recovers exhaust energy, which Cat says improves fuel economy and lowers in-cylinder combustion temperatures to improve emissions. The exhaust system has a tailored aftertreatment system, which changes particulate matter into carbon dioxide and water.

There are five engines in the CAT lineup using ACERT technology: the C7, C9, C11, C13 and C15. The C7, which replaces the 3126E, is aimed at the medium haul, pickup and delivery, lease rental and specialty markets.

Available in June 2003, the engine’s ratings range from 190 to 330 hp and 520 to 860 lb-ft of torque. The C9 and C11 are intended for vocational and day cab operations. The C9, which is available now, has two ratings: 335 and 350 hp with 1,050 and 1,100 lb-ft of torque for on-highway applications.

The heavy-duty C11 will be offered with ratings from 305 to 370 hp with 1,050 to 1,350 lb-ft of torque. The C11 will be available in December this year.

For fleet and linehaul business, Caterpillar provides the C13 and C15.

The C13, replacing the current C-12 in the heavy-duty lineup has additional displacement, changes to the cylinder head and increased sump capacity to offer the same durability as the larger C15. It provides 335 to 505 hp with 1,350 to 1,650 lb-ft of torque.

The C15 will be available from 435 to 550 hp with 1,350 to 1,850 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will be available in October 2003.

“We’ll have more than 10.2 million miles of testing on engines with ACERT technology by the time we are in full production in October,” says Steve Brown, director of marketing, Caterpillar Power Systems Division.

Of course, with the majority of the engines being available after June, Caterpillar is coming to market with 2002-emissions certified engines more than six months later than the rest of the industry. But Tana Utley, medium and heavy-duty product director, large power systems division, says it’s worth the wait.

“We were capable of bringing an EGR engine to market but we couldn’t find a win for our customers with cooled EGR and we couldn’t see it as a platform for the future … Any solution that would degrade reliability and fuel efficiency was not acceptable to us,” she says.

Nor did the wait hurt Cat in terms of market share, according to Jim McReynolds, general manager, on-highway engine department, power systems division. He says Caterpillar’s market share of sales in 2002 shot up to 34 per cent from 29 per cent the previous year.

“In this business a one or two per cent gain is great but a four to five per cent gain is unprecedented,” he says.


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