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Clear Shot: Why biodiesel bites

So you've been doing your best to comply with the ever-tightening truck emissions standards - you've got your engine plans revved and ready for the new '07s and the new low sulfur fuel, and you've eve...




So you’ve been doing your best to comply with the ever-tightening truck emissions standards – you’ve got your engine plans revved and ready for the new ’07s and the new low sulfur fuel, and you’ve even managed to negotiate a fuel surcharge with your customers that will actually cover the rising cost of fuel and leave some money over for you besides.

Think you’re pretty smart huh?

Well, think again, because your fuel and fuel-related maintenance costs could get even higher, thanks to the Ontario government’s plan to introduce mandatory biodiesel.

That’s right – the McGuinty government promised it would bring in biodiesel and it’s going about doing exactly that, with the help of the Ministry of Agriculture, which is currently looking at the ways and means of doing it.

In fact, a proposal is due out from the ministry very soon.

And it could mean even higher fuel and maintenance costs for the trucking industry.

Here’s why: the newer engines, while still diesel engines, are not built for use with biodiesel. In other words, there are warranty issues.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is currently no manufacturing and transportation system set up for biodiesel in North America, let alone Ontario. Which means Ontario would not be able to pipe the stuff in. It would have to come on trucks or via rail. Trucks and rail means higher costs (never mind more emissions – especially given that rail is even less regulated than trucks when it comes to fuel). And that means you pay more for your fuel. A lot more.

So if you’re going to pay more for fuel that may kill the warranty on your engine, and won’t necessarily create fewer emissions, what’s the advantage?

Well, if you’re a trucker, there doesn’t appear to be any (unless, of course, you truck in the new fuel). But if you’re a farmer looking into growing more soya beans to make biodiesel with, it’s very, very interesting.

Hence the involvement of Ontario’s Ministry of Agriculture, in a project that one would normally associate with the Ministry of Energy or the Environment or some such ministry.

In other words, while this project may indeed benefit some rural Ontario farmers and manufacturers, and maybe a few trucking companies, it does not take into account the cost to the province’s trucking industry as a whole.

Too bad the omission may only occur to those in favour of biodiesel when they have trouble finding enough trucks to bring their goods to market.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at iphaneuf@trucknews.com or (416) 510-6896.


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