Fleets concerned about 2007 engines

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Representatives from two major truckload carriers voiced concern about the increased costs surrounding the lower-emissions ’07 engines during a panel discussion at the American Trucking Associations annual meeting in Boston.

“We think we’ll see an additional $18,000 [in operating costs] with this new engine,” said Christopher Lofgren, Schneider National’s president and CEO. That’s on top of the $15,000 in additional operating costs for the ’02 low-emissions engines, compared to previous models. Consequently, Lofgren says, “to give ourselves some room, we are buying more tractors than we traditionally would.”

With the ’02 engines, Contract Freighters saw a 7 to 8 percent increase in the cost of the truck, $10,000 additional annual fuel costs per truck, and shorter service intervals, said Glen Brown, chairman and CEO. “The jury is still out on durability,” he said. CF held off purchasing ’02 engines until May 2004. “We wanted to change them out before ’07,” he said. “We plan to have the transition complete by the end of 2006.”

Issues for ’07 include the diesel particulate filters needed to remove the additional particulates generated by the process that reduces NOx emissions. The filters will add weight and cost and will need to be cleaned every 150,000 miles at a cost of $75 to $150, panelists said.

Cummins Vice President and General Manager Ed Pence assured attendees that beyond the DPF, maintenance intervals on the ’07 engines would not change and that performance would be “comparable to today’s products. We’re well ahead of where we were with ’02 engines,” he said.

Another issue: Beginning in 2006, all trucks will run on ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel, which will cost 3 to 7 cents more per gallon, although the actual “retail price will be market-driven,” said Jim McGeehan, global manager of diesel engine technology for Chevron.
Because low-sulfur diesel has less energy content, fuel economy dropped by about 2 percent in ’07 test engines run by Schneider, Lofgren said.

“Our biggest concern is the fuel,” said Kevin Knight of Knight Transportation, citing potential availability problems and increased costs. “It makes the introduction of the ’07 engines secondary, because we’re going to have to run the fuel no matter what.”