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Navistar nearly ready to certify International MaxxForce at 0.2 g NOx

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Navistar International will soon certify its heavy-duty engines at 0.2 g/hp-hr NOx but it will not roll those engines out to industry for as long as possible, until it has exhausted...


HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –Navistar International will soon certify its heavy-duty engines at 0.2 g/hp-hr NOx but it will not roll those engines out to industry for as long as possible, until it has exhausted its collection of emissions credits.

During a recent tour of the company’s Huntsville, Alabama big bore engine plant, Navistar chairman, president and CEO Dan Ustian told media that the company will certify its engines at 0.2 g NOx so the industry has the peace of mind of knowing it is possible.

“Because of all the anxiety that is out there, we’re going to certify that over the next few months here at 0.2 grams,” he said, adding the company will then continue selling engines at today’s 0.5 g NOx level “as long as we can,” so customers will not have to endure another engine change so soon. The 0.2 g NOx engine won’t be drastically different from today’s, Ustian noted, but will require new algorithms and enhancements to fuel pressure and air management systems.

Ustian said Navistar still has enough emissions credits to continue producing heavy-duty engines at 0.5 g NOx for a couple of years and it will take full advantage of that. And he makes no apologies for using credits: “Our competition uses (the use of credits) as a marketing tool,” he said. “The rest of the story is that we’ve earned those credits because we’ve been beating the standards for years…They’ll go to a municipality and convince them we’re not kosher here and not meeting emissions and so that’s one of the reasons that threw us over the top about going and suing the EPA and CARB, because that’s a marketing tool that’s out there and it’s bull.”

Navistar is currently building about 120 11-and 13-litre Maxx-Force engines a day at its Huntsville plant, as well as the occasional pre-production MaxxForce 15. The company says it has delivered 17,000 vehicles to US and Canadian fleets in the past quarter and has received more than 28,000 orders for EPA2010-approved vehicles, including 10,000 orders for the MaxxForce 13.

“We are shipping 2010 products, they are in customers’ hands and we’ve done the bulk of those shipments here in the last 45-60 days,” Mike Cerilli, vice-president, North American truck marketing, told a small contingent of industry media.

Ustian said the market’s reception to Navistar’s EGR-only, in-cylinder emissions strategy has been “about what we expected,” given that every other manufacturer is using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) exhaust after-treatment.

“We’re being marketed against pretty tough here,” he said. “You guys don’t see Freightliner marketing against Volvo or Volvo marketing against Paccar, they’re all after us. We consider that a compliment, because it means they’re worried. We have something they can’t have, not only don’t have, they can’t have for a long period of time.”

Technology wars aside, Ustian said the bigger challenge for Navistar was simply getting customers comfortable with its own International engines after Cummins abruptly changed course in 2008, requiring Navistar to fast-track the introduction of its MaxxForce engine for some applications.

“What we’ve had to do, literally overnight, was take that Cummins customer and get them comfortable with our own engine,” Ustian said.

Tim Shick, director of business and product strategy with Navistar’s engine group, said the MaxxForce 13 is performing well in the field and is exceeding the company’s own durability expectations. He showed media a torn down MaxxForce 13 -the 318th built at the plant -which was demonstrating excellent wear after 400,000 real-world miles with a customer. Many of the components were still within original spec’s, he noted.

“Based on wear, this engine has a projected life of two million miles,” he said. “Now that we can prove it, you’re going to see us getting more aggressive on our (durability) claims.”

Navistar also claims it will be able to improve fuel economy -by as much as 5% -as it winds its NOx emissions down from current levels of 0.5 g to the eventual 0.2.

“There is this (perception) that when you go to 0.2, you’re going to lose fuel economy,” he said. “We’ll be able to show you that it’s better fuel economy (at 0.2 g) just because of improvements in the technology.”

During the plant tour, Truck West asked Ramin Younessi, group vice-president, product development and strategy, exactly how Navistar would be able to improve fuel economy while at the same time reducing NOx emissions? He said fuel savings will result from higher fuel pressure, more precise injection, improvements in combustion and fuel mixtures and refinements to air management.

At the same time, Younessi said the company will be looking to improve truck aerodynamics and reducing parasitic losses so the truck and engine package together deliver substantial fuel savings.

Younessi also noted Navistar set an internal goal in July 2007 to beat the fuel economy of the most fuel-efficient truck and engine combo on the market at that time by 30% by 2015. Waste heat recovery is one way he said the company will achieve that.

“The engine is generating all this heat, what do you do with it?,” he said. “You can exchange it with the radiator, just release it into the atmosphere, or you can do something with it. The one advantage we have with the EGR engines is we have this heat, now we can do something with it -make heat a friend.”

But on the subject of heat, Ustian noted the 0.2 g NOx MaxxForce will not generate any more heat than today’s version, which incidentally looks pretty clean compared to early pictures that made the rounds of a preproduction engine with some extraneous equipment hanging off it. Shick said those pictures were of a Man engine built for a cabover and jury-rigged to fit in a conventional.

“It’s all cleaned up now,” he said of the MaxxForce 13. “This is our 2010 engine and it looks pretty much like an SCR engine now in terms of not having a lot of paraphernalia on it.”

Ustian also said Navistar has been successful in convincing customers to move from a 15-litre engine to a 13-litre, even north of the border where 15-litre power is often still seen as king.

“We thought Canada, because of the weight laws, would be a prime spot for 15-litre, and it will be, but we have customers up there, one I visited just in the last couple of weeks who pulls 140,000 lbs across Canada and he said ‘I hope you’re not spending a lot of money on that 15-litre because I’m not moving from this 13-litre I already have from you’,” Ustian recalled.

He figures at least 80% of Navistar’s heavy-duty customers will be running 13-litre engines, even when its MaxxForce 15 is launched.

Driving that market shift are factors such as weight savings (as much as 1,000 lbs compared to 15-litre engines with SCR), the corresponding fuel savings and a push towards more regional hauls as intermodal shipping grows and the opening of the Panama Canal allows goods from Asia and Europe to arrive on both coasts.

“We also believe the 13-litre will do the job of a 15-litre in terms of performance and life and you don’t need a 15-litre for most applications,” Ustian said.


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