Navistar, EPA settle SCR suits

Public workshop part of agreement

Navistar International Corp. reached an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that settled lawsuits it filed in March 2009 concerning the agency’s certification policies for diesel-powered trucks equipped with selective catalytic reduction (SCR). The May 3 agreement called for EPA to hold a public workshop or hearing to address the issues Navistar raised in its challenges before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The settlement came a week before the parties were set to square off May 10 in oral arguments before a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court.

Navistar is using advanced exhaust gas recirculation to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions standards.Navistar is using advanced exhaust gas recirculation to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions standards.

Navistar had argued that EPA’s guidance documents for SCR implementation were invalid because the agency had adopted them without the required public process and had relied only on input from the SCR engine makers. Navistar contended that EPA’s guidance would allow SCR-equipped trucks to operate for extended periods without any control of NOx emissions, resulting in certification of SCR engines as meeting NOx emissions requirements when they do not.

On May 3, Navistar and EPA filed an emergency joint motion to cancel the May 10 oral arguments and hold the case in abeyance pending approval of the settlement by the Justice Department and public comment on the settlement in principle, which is required by the Clean Air Act. The settlement affects two related lawsuits, one directed at the February 2009 guidance memorandum to SCR engine makers and the other addressing issues related to EPA’s 2001 rule setting NOx standards.

According to Navistar, the agreement provides that EPA will “engage in a public process to reexamine its policies, for future 2011 and later model year engines” during which it will “provide a thorough review of EPA’s policies regarding operation of SCR-equipped engines.” EPA also has promised to “ensure, among other things, that SCR-equipped heavy-duty diesel engines are designed to properly control emissions as required under applicable regulations.”

Navistar looks forward to participating in the public process, said Jack Allen, president of Navistar’s North American Truck Group. “We believe that with full and open public participation, EPA will develop a new approach that will result in equal enforcement of the 2010 NOx requirements for all engine makers.” The EPA settlement mirrored one struck in late April with the California Air Resources Board. (See “Navistar drops suit against CARB,” CCJ May 2010.)

Navistar’s own MaxxForce DT midrange diesel engines and its MaxxForce 13 big bore diesel engines received EPA certification for model year 2010 earlier this year. The company is using advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to meet EPA’s 2010 emissions standards.

– Avery Vise

In brief

* Navistar Inc. reached a long-term supply agreement with J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. to supply the Lowell, Ark.-based company with more than 5,000 commercial trucks through 2014. Navistar will deliver International ProStar+ sleepers and day cabs powered by 2010 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified MaxxForce 13 big bore engines.

* Penske Truck Leasing ordered 750 Freightliner Cascadia and 600 Volvo VN670 tractors equipped with selective catalytic reduction technology to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions regulations.

* Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems and Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake offered legislators and government agencies the opportunity to experience Bendix’s safety technologies firsthand in Washington, D.C.

* Hendrickson Truck Suspension Systems’ Steertek fabricated front steer axle now comes with a standard 10-year 1-million-mile limited warranty that covers Steertek axles equipped on approved vehicles built after Jan. 1.

* Nissan Diesel America changed its name to UD Trucks North America as part of a new branding strategy that complements the recent name change of its parent company from Nissan Diesel Motor Co. Ltd. to UD Trucks Corp.

* Eaton Corp. is collaborating with Takaoka Electric Manufacturing Co. to develop DC Quick Chargers for charging electric vehicle battery packs. The collaboration will enable Eaton to provide a complete line of charging stations in North America.

* Paccar Inc. named Fleetline Products to its elite group of suppliers for achieving its ultimate expectation level in quality and warranty performance for 2009.

CCJ Test Drive: Volvo’s velvety-smooth VN780

Volvo’s automotive line now is owned by the Chinese, but there’s some pretty serious safety and luxury DNA coursing through this Swedish company’s veins. So when Volvo wheels out a road-test tractor, you can bet it’s going to be crammed full of high-tech features.Such was the case at a recent text drive of the new VN780 tractor at the company’s North American headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. Beyond its shining silver-metallic paint and charcoal trim, the VN’s sleek, aerodynamic lines hinted at its low drag coefficient on the highway. It’s no surprise to learn this tractor is U.S. Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay-certified.

Volvo’s VN780 is a showcase blend of technology, power and function.Volvo’s VN780 is a showcase blend of technology, power and function.

The sophisticated suite of electronics Volvo has installed on this tractor aren’t simple party tricks. Everything is calibrated to make life easier for the driver. When activated, Volvo’s Pre-Trip Assistant pretrip diagnostic system cycles through the tractor’s lighting system, blinking high beams, blinkers and brake lights to verify all are in working order. It’s a simple idea, easily executed with the truck’s onboard electronics system – but one that can save a driver a lot of time and climbs in and out of the cab before heading out.

In the VN780’s cab, seating is comfortable, and control systems are within easy reach. Visibility over the nose and to the sides is exceptional. Sleeper appointments are plush and designed with driver convenience in mind. The bunk folds out of the way to make room for a work desk/dinner table, complete with power outlets to plug in a laptop or charge a cell phone. The usual arrangements for a television or microwave oven are standard. And there is plenty of storage space for clothing and personal effects.

On the highway, the Volvo D13 diesel delivers plenty of power up front to get you going – but it’s a remarkably quiet engine even when shifting through low gears. At highway speeds, there’s no need to speak up – much less shout – when carrying on a conversation. This particular VN780 featured Volvo’s new I-Shift 12-speed automated-manual transmission – another productivity-enhancement feature that takes an awful lot of work away from the driver, allowing them to fully concentrate on road conditions and other traffic. Volvo engineers did a bang-up job programming the I-Shift transmission; shift points are logical and smooth.

Drivers need not fret about giving up control over the transmission, however; a host of intuitive easy-to-use features provide complete control on demand. While climbing and descending fairly steep grades in the mountains on the North Carolina-Virginia border, it was easy to select and hold specific gears. In fact, using the I-Shift and Volvo’s integrated engine brake helped maintain a safe speed coming down the mountains with minimal wear and tear on the truck’s brakes.

Volvo always has been known for its emphasis on safety – a fact reflected in the demo VN tractor. In addition to the standard passive safety systems Volvo puts on its trucks (including driver-side air bags and high-strength steel cab construction), the tractor also featured antilock brakes, Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology (electronic stability control), Eaton’s Roadranger lane-departure/warning system and Volvo’s own collision-avoidance system and adaptive cruise control. While these systems cannot completely eliminate driver error or compensate for other drivers on the road, when operating simultaneously they boost the driver’s situational awareness exponentially.

But more than that, Volvo’s Enhanced Cruise Control actually coaches the driver and encourages safe vehicle intervals by alerting you if you’re getting too close to the vehicle in front of you. After the system has chirped at you a few times, you find yourself naturally maintaining the intervals it wants without thinking about it. Even better, the system has been programmed to be speed-sensitive; in other words, in stop-and-go traffic, you don’t have to worry about it beeping at you because you’re close to a car at a stop light.

The VN780 is a showcase blend of technology, power and function. It’s not just a safe truck that’s easy and comfortable to drive, it’s also a truck that allows drivers to be productive both on and off the road, and rest well and recharge quickly when they’re not on duty. – Jack Roberts

Volvo VN780 Specs

Engine Volvo D13

Horsepower 500

Torque 1,750 ft.-lb. (max)

Engine brake I-VEB (Volvo Engine Brake)

GCW 80,000 lbs.

Transmission Volvo I-Shift ATO2612D

Transmission speeds 12