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Clean Diesel Strives for Prime Role in Commercial Vehicle Market

Building on clean diesel technology, diesel engine and vehicle manufacturers are now pushing commercial engine efficiency and systems integration to achieve greater fuel economy and other benefits, said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

Appearing on a panel at the 10 Integer Emissions Summit USA 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pa., Schaeffer shared with the audience insights on the key challenges on- and off-road engines face over the next 10 years. Also appearing on the panel were representatives from the California Air Resources Board, Corning and Volvo Trucks North America.

“Diesel truck and engine manufacturers have a major success story in the transformation to clean diesel technology that has taken place over the last decade,” said Schaeffer. “Today more than thirty percent of all commercial vehicles on the road are of the newest generation (2011 and newer) clean diesel technology. These have generated considerable benefits for truckers in the form of lower fuel costs and society in the form of cleaner emissions and lower carbon (CO2) emissions.”

The use of new clean diesel technology in the U.S. commercial vehicle fleet has eliminated 43 million tonnes of CO2, 21 million tonnes of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 1.2 million tonnes of particular matter (PM). Moreover, the latest clean diesel technology has saved 4.2 billion gallons of fuel across the fleet, resulting in cost savings of more than $2,640 per truck per year.

“Building on that success, attention has now turned to making engines and trucks more fuel efficient and lower in greenhouse gas emissions,” continued Schaeffer. “For example, new projects in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SuperTruck program are pushing the envelope, seeking 57 percent thermal efficiency for Class 8 trucks.”

“While meeting the current near-zero engine emissions standards, industry is also engaged in discussions with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board about the potential for achieving even lower emissions and greater efficiency from new engines at some point in the future. The issues are far greater and more complex – beyond identifying a future standard both in the design of future technology. It is important to also make sure there is a full and complete understanding of clean air and other competing objectives, as well as customer needs.

“Customers of heavy duty engines, vehicles and equipment are evaluating many approaches to improve efficiency. They tend to see it more holistically than regulators, beyond just the engine, the fuel type or the vehicle. Making the freight system or the jobsite overall more efficient, utilizing advanced vehicle connectivity for platooning, incorporating some automated functions and even geo-fencing technologies to synchronize vehicle operations with localized requirements – all are broader considerations that manufacturers are investigating, and that customers are interested in.

“One of the most important considerations to sort through is how to move more truckers into the newest generation of technology, faster. These incremental, consistent investments pay large dividends in the form of immediate clean air improvements as well as lower operating costs for the trucker.”

ACT Research analysts expect the 2017 North American Class 8 truck market to come in at more than 260,000 vehicles. According to projections by The Fuels Institute, diesel will remain the predominant fuel for commercial vehicles through 2025, when it maintains 96% of the medium- and heavy-duty market. The Forum relayed the following, under a headline that read, “Fast Facts:”

  • Nearly 3 million heavy-duty diesel commercial vehicles powered by the latest generation clean diesel engines are on the road today.
  • Between 2011 and 2016, the newest generation commercial vehicles reduced 43 million tonnes of CO2, 21 million tonnes of NOx, and 1.2 million tonnes of particulate matter.
  • The Fuels Institute projects that, even in 2025, diesel will remain the predominant fuel for commercial vehicles, with 96 percent of the market.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, one ton of NOx may be eliminated by investing $20,000 in clean diesel versus $1,000,000 in alternative fuel infrastructure.
  • The newest clean diesel trucks (model year 2011 and newer) have 99 percent lower NOx emissions than previous generations, along with 98 percent fewer particulate matter emissions.

The Integer Emissions Summit was held Nov. 7-8.

The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information visit www.dieselforum.org.

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