Navistar: NOx-compliant engine achieved

HUNSTVILLE, Ala. — Navistar International says it is on the verge of submitting for certification a MaxxForce 13 engine that finally meets the EPA’s 0.2g NOx standard, but it will continue selling engines that exceed that EPA limit until its banked emissions credits run out.

Navistar — the sole heavy-duty engine maker to go with an advanced version of the 2007 EGR system rather than SCR technology — announced it will for the first time submit to EPA 0.2g NOx-compliant engines, "far ahead of when high volume production of the 0.2g NOx-certified MaxxForce 13 would be required."

The specific technology Navistar will use to meet the NOx standard — whether it remains strictly EGR or not — is somewhat unclear at this time, though.

The truck and engine maker also said it has submitted for EPA certification its big bore MaxxForce 15, which will be based on the Caterpillar C15 platform.

Navistar’s current MaxxForce 13 engines almost double the 0.2g NOx limit. But it has been permitted to sell them by using emission credits it amassed with the production of lighter-duty engines that exceed their respective emission benchmarks.

At a facility tour this week at the company’s Huntsville Engine Plant in Huntsville, Ala., Navistar said it is building more than 100 of these MaxxForce 13 engines a day and has received more than 10,000 orders. It added that about 17,000 of 2010 model trucks were delivered to U.S. and Canadian customers in the past quarter.

During the tour, Dan Ustian, chairman & CEO said the new generation, 0.2g NOx-compliant models improve on fuel economy. They will be submitted to the EPA in the next few months, but likely won’t begin coming off assembly lines for another two years.

That more or less answers the question of how long Navistar’s stockpile of credits will last.

Ustian did confirm to reporters that the company intends to use up its credits before rolling out the engines.

The company, however, didn’t specify in its press release whether the 0.2g NOx compliant engines would continue to rely solely EGR as its emissions-busting solution.

Navistar had been researching a number of alternatives, including a "dry" ammonia system that many technical observers consider to be a non-liquid urea based SCR system.

When asked for details before this posting, Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley would only confirm in an email that the "0.2g NOx MaxxForce 13 we mentioned in the release yesterday and plan to submit to the EPA for certification will achieve emissions ‘in-cylinder.’ Stay tuned."

Rival OEMs have said that their decision to switch from EGR to SCR for the 2010 rules was mainly because testing showed the 0.2g NOx limit can’t be met – as one engineer told – "(with) any semblance of (improved) fuel economy."

Since Navistar says the 0.2g NOx compliant models do in fact improve fuel economy from current engines, the company has either proved its competitors wrong or another technology beyond ERG could be at play.

Rivals might also find it ironic, the competitor noted, that Navistar has spent the last year trying to get rival SCR engines recalled because of claims the engines "pollute" when diesel exhaust fluid is bypassed, but the company has chosen to wait two years to market cleaner engines that can reportedly meet the NOx limit much sooner.

At the plant tour, Ustian told media that the company would use the time to perfect fuel economy improvements in the 0.2g NOx models and to make the transition for customers as seamless as possible.

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