With the official deadline less than two months away, truck makers have begun their initial transition to diesel engines meeting the far stricter federal emissions requirements that take effect on Jan. 1. For most, however, that transition will be a gradual affair as they will continue to produce and sell trucks with engines built before the Jan. 1 switch-over for at least a few more months, offering fleets a limited choice of pre- and post-2010 engines, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

As was the case in 2007 when the last round of emissions standards required major engine hardware changes, this gradual transition is a nod to the realities of manufacturing trucks by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which recognizes that production lines and supply chains can't be turned on and off like a light switch. However, EPA is also sensitive to the potential temptation to “stockpile” older engines in an attempt to game the emissions regulation system and gain some type of perceived competitive advantage. And so it has issued letters to all of the truck manufacturers just to put them on notice that the agency is monitoring the transition to ensure all play by the same rules.

How long the transition period last depends on the market for new trucks. With sales forecast to remain at or near the low levels seen in 2009, some believe trucks with the pre-2010 engines could be on dealer lots for up to the first six months of the year, although the ramp up to full production of trucks with 2010-certified engines will probably be complete by the end of the first quarter. In some cases, manufacturers say they may sell out of pre-2010 engines and stop taking orders for some popular models even before the end of this year.

The main reasons buyers might opt for the pre-2010 engines are a significantly lower cost — almost $10,000 for some Class 8 trucks — and familiar emissions control technology that won't require immediate new technical training or periodic refills with a new diesel emissions fluid (DEF).

Putting aside world-leading emissions performance, most of the newer 2010 engines offer significant fuel economy and performance advantages, particularly if they require DEF, and after this brief transition period will be the only types of diesels available in the U.S., meaning technicians will have to be trained to deal with them anyway.

The one major controversy involving the 2010 engines is a sometimes bitter argument between Navistar and all the other truck and engine manufacturers over the technology used to meet the new emissions standards. The majority group has chosen selective catalytic reduction (SCR), which uses DEF in an aftertreatment system to bring NOx emissions down to the ultralow levels mandated by EPA. Navistar's approach avoids SCR and DEF, instead increasing the amount of exhaust gas recirculation to reduce NOx formation within the combustion chamber.

The differences between the two approaches have been the subject of numerous and lengthy articles in previous Countdown 2010 installments. In short, though, the basic advantages seen for SCR compared to 2007-certified engines are substantial fuel economy improvements, better drivability and performance, and a well-documented history of reliable service in Europe where SCR has been used for some time. For its part, Navistar points out that its “advanced EGR” approach avoids the weight of SCR aftertreatment systems and the need to fill a second tank with DEF, and will deliver total vehicle fuel economy equal to, if not better, than its current medium- and heavy-duty models.

Up to this point, the arguments have been largely theoretical with both sides making the case for their approach. Now as we move into this transitional period, fleets will get to decide if one approach is superior to the other in real trucking applications, the only court that really matters.

In alphabetical order, here are the basic details of how that transition will play out for most OEMs.

Daimler Trucks of North America (DTNA) has already begun to receive the first shipments of 2010 engines from its proprietary engine maker, Detroit Diesel Corp. (DDC). The first shipped were the DD13 13-liter and the DD15 15-liter, according to David Siler, Detroit Diesel's director of marketing. The first 16-liter DD16s are scheduled to ship this month. Technically, they are all “2010 compliant” rather than “2010 certified” since all of the required testing has been completed, but EPA does not issue actual certifications until just before the Jan. 1 changeover deadline.

Until it moves to full 2010 engine production on Jan. 1, DDC will continue building and shipping '07-spec engines to DTNA's Freightliner and Western Star plants. Those plants will gradually ramp up to full production of 2010-engined trucks over the first three months of the new year, Siler says. Depending on sales, however, the manufacturer could stop taking orders for some '07-engined models before the end of 2009, he explains, although delivery will be spread out across the first months of the new year.

Availability of a 2010-certified Cummins ISX 15-liter diesel is expected by the end of the second quarter, says Siler.

As part of the transition, DTNA's aftermarket operation has begun supplying Freightliner and Western Star dealers with DEF in jugs and bulk containers, or totes, as well as dispensing equipment for the aftertreatment fluid. Training for dealer salespeople and technicians is also well underway, says Siler, with all dealers required to have at least one “master-certified” SCR technician by April and two by September. In addition to the in-person training courses required for that master certification, DTNA is also offering web-based training for dealer technicians.

Ford Motor Co. has developed a new 6.7-liter V8 diesel to replace the Navistar-built V8 currently used in its F-Series Super Duty trucks. The new engine will continue to be called the PowerStroke, however, it will not be available until sometime next spring when it's introduced in the new 2011 F-Series Super Duty. Until that time, current Super Duty models will carry '07-certified V8 diesels built before the Jan. 1 deadline for as long as the supply lasts.

Ford has released basic technical details of the diesel, which will use SCR to meet emissions requirements, but specifics such as power ratings and cost are not available.

General Motors Corp. says a surge in orders for diesel-powered vans has already claimed all of the '07-certified diesels it will build, and it has stopped taking orders for those trucks. As a result, “we will have a five-month dark period on diesel engines — January through May,” says Dan Tigges, GM full-size truck product manager.

In May, GM will start production of a new 2010-certified diesel, which will be available in 2011 GM pickups and chassis cab models starting in August, he says. Regular and crew-cab models will be the first to get the new diesel, with extended-cab models not following until sometime later in the year. The company also confirmed that its new diesel will use SCR aftertreatment.

Hino Trucks USA will begin taking orders in April for Class 6 and 7 models with SCR-equipped 2010-certified diesels for delivery starting in May, according to a company spokesperson. Its current Class 4 and 5 models will not be certified, but rather replaced with an all-new design sometime later in the year.

Dealer sales and technical training for the new engines will begin next month, according to the spokesperson.

Isuzu Truck NA will continue building trucks with engines produced before the Jan. 1 switch-over date through the first quarter of 2010, according to Todd Bloom, vp-marketing. By midyear, the company will begin installing two new diesels — the 4HK1 and 4J — that are both 2010-compliant and offer fuel economy improvements, says Bloom. Both will use SCR to meet the new emissions rules.

Mack Trucks “has been accepting EPA '10 truck orders for some time now, and we've already initiated production of customer units,” a company spokesperson told Fleet Owner. Its proprietary engine builder — Volvo Powertrains, which also provides heavy-duty diesels for Volvo Trucks of North America — will continue to “build EPA '07 engines at normal production rates until Jan. 1,” he adds.

The general economy and demand for Class 8 trucks early next year will determine how long Mack trucks with the '07-certified engines will be available as the company transitions production to the 2010 engines, the spokesperson says.

Navistar hosted the first media ride-and-drive of its three major 2010 engine lines just days before this issue was sent to the printer. (For details on the MaxxForce medium and heavy-duty diesels, see page 54)

The 6.4L V8 MaxxForce 7, the inline-6 MaxxForce DT/6/7, and the 11L and 13L MaxxForce Big Bore will use advanced EGR rather than SCR to meet emissions requirements.

Like other manufacturers, Navistar's International trucks and school buses will begin transitioning to 2010-certified engines in “early 2010,” according to a company spokesperson. However, the company will build 1,500 “2010-compliant” trucks before Jan. 1 and deliver them to customers in the first quarter so they can gain firsthand experience with the new engine technology, says Jim Hebe, Navistar senior vp-North American sales.

Currently, the company offers the Cummins ISX 15-liter engine as well as its MaxxForce Big Bore 13-liter in its heavy-duty models. Once it sells out of '07-certified ISX diesels, which could be sometime in the first or second quarter of the year, it will not move to the 2010 version of the Cummins diesel since that engine will use SCR and Navistar has committed to a non-SCR approach, the company has said. Instead, with Caterpillar exiting the on-road diesel engine business at the end of this year, Navistar is developing its own 2010 version of the Caterpillar C15. Development work is expected to be finished in the second half of 2010.

A few trucks in Navistar's initial 1,500 build this year will be powered by early versions of the new 15L, says Hebe. The goal is to gain real-world test data as they move towards production engines, he says.

Peterbilt Motors Co. expects to ramp up production of trucks with 2010 engines in late January or early February, says gm Bill Jackson. Like other truck makers, Peterbilt will continue building trucks with'07 engines manufactured before the Jan. 1 deadline until it sells out of the older engines.

Peterbilt's heavy-duty models will initially be powered by the 2010 version of Cummins' ISX. Later in the year, the company expects to add a new proprietary MX heavy-duty diesel from its parent, Paccar. Medium-duty models will carry SCR-equipped versions of the current Paccar PX 6.7- and 8.3-liter medium-duty diesels.

Even though dealers won't see the new 2010-certified engines in their showrooms or shops for some time, Peterbilt has already begun training sales staff and technicians, Jackson says. “We're not changing much under the hood, but we are adding new components, including SCR,” he says.

Paccar's parts distribution network has also begun planning to supply dealers with DEF, both in jugs and bulk containers.

(Kenworth Truck Co., Paccar's other truck-manufacturing business, is expected to follow the same transition schedule, although its executives were unavailable to confirm that schedule.)

Volvo Trucks North America (VTNA) has begun limited production of trucks with 2010 versions of its proprietary D11, D13 and D16 engines, and even delivered a limited number to customers. “We'll transition into the full 2010 build sometime in the first quarter,” says Scott Kress, senior vp-sales and marketing.

With the current market for Class 8 trucks “not showing a lot of demand,” it's not clear yet how long VTNA will continue producing trucks with '07 engines, “but we've been pushing hard to [implement] the 2010 technology,” says Kress.

While initial 2010 production will be limited to Volvo engines, Cummins ISX diesels will follow in short order, he adds.

Dealer training, both sales and technical, is also underway, and VTNA has been working for some time to make sure DEF is available through its dealers as well as through truck stops.