Quo vadis, heavy-duty engine

  • 24-Jun-2008 07:36 EDT
Scania’s DC9 Euro V truck engine is equipped with EGR, a variable geometry turbocharger, and 2400-bar (34.8-ksi) common-rail injection (cutaway of the Scania XPI injector shown).

With environmental awareness at an all-time high and fuel prices just going in one direction, the real challenge for heavy-duty (HD) diesel engines is ahead: Bringing emissions further down while limiting the costs to clean the diesel.

“Emissions legislation is driving over 75% of engine R&D. The future NAFTA, EU, and Japan focus is on CO2,” said Alex Woodrow, Director and Head of Research at Knibb Gormezano & Partners (KG&P). The international management and technology consultancy founded in 1988 has analyzed the global heavy commercial vehicle engine market, which accounted for 2.9 million heavy on-road vehicles—6+ t (6.6+ ton) trucks and buses—in 2007.

The analysis spans the years 2004 to 2015 and includes the five global regions and 29 national markets that cover nearly 100% of heavy-duty vehicle production. Despite economic up and down turns in individual markets, the analysis, based on J.D. Power & Associates Commercial Vehicle Forecasts, predicts an average annual growth of 4% on the global scale.

Even though the HD market is more homogeneous than, for instance, the passenger-car or even the light-vehicle segment, there is no single technological solution, certainly not one that is globally applicable. The U.S. market’s stringent emissions legislation (EPA07 2007; EPA10 2010) will initially keep the focus to diesel particulate filters (DPFs). Woodrow expects the EU truck emissions legislation (currently EU IV 2005) to be adopted by most countries including China, India, Russia, and South America.

“Customer requirements differ according to region,” said Woodrow about the findings. “While fuel economy is the top priority in all regions, the purchase price, ease of maintenance, low service requirements, and durability rank higher in the emerging markets than in the developed markets, which put performance and reliability nearly as high as fuel economy. Therefore, engine developers have to make complex decisions. Also, to meet the differing market requirements, OEM strategies will include an element of decontenting for the developing markets, but basically the same engines will be used worldwide.”

“The heavy-duty engine market is characterized by a trend towards standardizing of platforms or mass customizing,” Woodrow continued. Examples include the worldwide Daimler Heavy Duty Engine Platform (HDEP). It targets 200,000 units per year and includes four displacements with 50% commonality between sizes and 90% commonality for engines between regions. The HDEP will be manufactured in Germany, the U.S., and Japan and will ultimately replace seven existing engines, with the Series 60 and MBE 4000 in North America among them. The first HDEP engine introduced in the U.S. market is the DD15.

“While there is a growing trend towards engine downsizing in the passenger-car market, this is not true for heavy commercial engines,” said Woodrow on technological trends. “On the contrary, we rather see a current tendency towards a slight upsizing of the cylinders with the same injection to bring down the temperature level in the combustion chamber and thus to minimize NOx emissions. However, it is an incremental evolution.”

According to the KG&P study, the NAFTA market was heavily affected by pre-buy, which limited the success of EPA07 engines in 2007. “The emission standard was met with high EGR rates and DPF.” The high share of owner-operators translates into a focus on fuel economy, it seems. Also, the analysis shows an increasing focus on captive large engines.

In Western Europe, most large trucks will use a combination of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and DPFs to meet Euro VI emissions regs, according to Woodrow. Scania, however, uses an optimized EGR without SCR for some of its new engines. The new inline Euro V-compliant engines are equipped with Scania’s 2400-bar (34.8-ksi) extra-high-pressure common-rail injection (XPI) technology and EGR but have no SCR, while the new V8 engines are equipped with SCR (and EGR shortly). Medium applications may only require SCR and DPF technology.

With the Post New Long Term (PNLT) standard, Japan will be first to go to the most stringent emissions legislation in 2009. The market’s demand is forecast to be split up between medium and heavy segments, with production dominated by the medium segment.

China will clearly be the world’s largest market with an increasing focus on heavy trucks. The adoption of Euro III and IV is agreed on, but the introduction was derogated to mid 2008. From the point of emissions technology, the lack of low sulfur fuel is an issue in China. One typical trait of the market is a large share of noncaptive engines, says KG&P.

In India, Euro III will be adopted in 2010; Euro IV is scheduled for introduction in major cities three years before the roll-out to the whole country. Poor fuel quality and engine availability put a question mark behind this, though.

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