Fact versus fiction

by John Curran

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – While other engine manufacturers are squabbling in the courts over the looming emissions deadline, the message from DaimlerChrysler is simple: 10/02 is a reality, let’s make the most of a bad situation.

“We’re all in this together and I think it’s time we stop bashing each other,” says Lud Koci, former vice-chairman and chief executive officer of Detroit Diesel Corporation, in reference to the legal wranglings of the other engine makers. “I think they’re the worst thing that could have happened to the industry.”

And why is Daimler so willing to accept the emissions changes? It feels it’s ready.

“About 55 to 65 per cent of the quotes we’re writing right now include a standard or optional MBE4000,” says Mark Lampert, Freightliner’s senior vice-president of sales and marketing.

Some of you familiar with the lack of respect paid by North Americans to Mercedes-Benz’ heavy-duty engine are undoubtedly scratching your heads wondering what sparked such sudden interest in the 12-litre, 435hp design?

Call it an attractive view through a sizable window.

For 15 months after the rest of North America’s engines have come under the new emissions regime imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the MBE4000 will continue to run as is and without non-conformance penalties. That means no exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) until the January after next.

No, the company didn’t grease countless Washington palms to get this perk.

Mercedes-Benz engines weren’t part of the 1998 consent decree pulling the deadline forward, so the initial Jan. 1, 2004 mark still applies in this case.

And the crowd at DC intends to make hay while it can.

“Of course 15 months is a tremendous opportunity, but the engine has to stand on its own,” says John Merrifield, senior vice- president of sales for the company’s Sterling and Western Star nameplates.

This is something he says fleets and owner/ops will realize is not a problem once they give the German engine a closer look.

“There’s not a better fit than Sterling and the MBE4000,” he boldly states. Explaining most Sterlings handle vocational or hub-and-spoke duties that see them home every night, he feels the Benz is ideally suited to help the company launch a meaningful attack on this portion of the engine biz dominated by Cummins’ M11 and Caterpillar’s C-12.

He also sees a bright future for the Mercedes in the owner/operator geared Western Star line.

“If you’re talking about the big sleeper, lots of chrome owner/operator, no; but for the guy who has a daycab pulling sand, gravel or something like that around, certainly,” says Merrifield.

For the bigger boys, Koci explains Detroit’s Series 60 – North America’s lightest and most-popular large bore engine – has been equipped with EGR and will be certified by the EPA in time for the Oct. 1, deadline despite published reports to the contrary in other media sources.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.