At its semi-annual board meeting this week in Washington D.C., members of the National Biodiesel Board applauded the latest original equipment manufacturer to announce its support for use of B20 biodiesel blends. Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. has confirmed that all of its new 2011 and forward model-year diesel engines, including its four N-Series truck models as well as the new Isuzu Reach commercial van, are compatible with use of up to 20 percent biodiesel blends (B20). Isuzu Commercial Truck is the first Asian manufacturer to approve B20 for U.S. market spec engines.
According to Brian Tabel, Isuzu Commercial Truck’s retail marketing manager, Isuzu’s announcement of B20 support is the result of three factors: growing consumer demand for the fuel, an extensive and cooperative research project on B20 biodiesel blends by Isuzu engineers in the United States and Japan, and improved biodiesel fuel quality and industry support in the United States under the assurances of ASTM D7467, the American Society of Testing and Materials specifications for B6-B20 biodiesel blends.
“Our customers at Isuzu Commercial Truck of America have been asking for approval to use B20 in our products in the U.S. for many years,” Tabel says. “We are really happy to now turn that request into a reality and bring B20 biodiesel capability to the U.S. market.”
Isuzu’s announcement is timely as the U.S. biodiesel industry ramps up for its biggest year yet, with expected production volumes of at least 800 million gallons of biodiesel in 2011 to meet requirements under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS-2) program. Made from a diverse mix of feedstocks, biodiesel is the only fuel produced in commercial scale volumes in the United States that qualifies as an advanced biofuel under EPA definitions.
Biodiesel’s sustainability and cost-effectiveness as a domestically produced, renewable fuel was another factor that appealed to Isuzu Commercial Truck as they considered different powertrain options for meeting the increasingly stringent U.S. emissions standards. “In looking for ways to lessen our environmental footprint while also improving fuel economy, we realized that our customers can much more easily afford a high fuel-efficiency B20-compatible diesel vehicle running on biodiesel blends than some of the very expensive hybrid vehicles out there,” Tabel says. “Biodiesel just makes sense.”
“We are extremely pleased to see Isuzu Commercial Truck join the ranks of OEMs openly supporting B20 biodiesel blends,” says Joe Jobe, National Biodiesel Board chief executive officer. “Now more than 60 percent of manufacturers in the U.S. market approve the use of B20 or higher blends in at least some of their equipment. With Isuzu setting the pace as a market leader in the medium-duty truck segment, we look forward to more OEM announcements of support for B20 in the near future.”