OEMs Soften Blow Of 2007 Price Hikes

Expect to pay $5,000 to $10,000 more per vehicle.


New 2007 emissions-controls will affect on price, fuel economy and maintenance costs for new vehicles, but, come January, sticker shock among new truck buyers will not be as bad as originally thought.

“There was definitely a lot of talk that the costs would increase to buy new trucks because of the new technologies and that fuel economy would degrade,” says Gary Petty, president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council, Alexandria, VA. “The reality is better than was expected a year ago. Companies were probably wise to over-estimate rather than underestimate.”

Sticker prices for most 2007 trucks will be $5,000 to $10,000 higher per vehicle. But, because most manufacturers have just expanded on systems that they first started using in 2002, when the last round of emissions reductions went into effect, rather than developing new technology from scratch, the blow to the customers’ wallets will be far less than expected, they claim.

All but one manufacturer has turned to exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) as the primary method for reducing nitrous oxide emissions by 55 percent, as required under the 2007 standards put forth by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Diesel particulate filters will be used to reduce by the required 90 percent the amount of soot and particulate emissions.

Caterpillar Truck Engines, Peoria, IL, is the one exception, expanding its ACERT technology, which relies on a series of turbochargers to force more cool, clean air into the combustion chamber. The company has “invested more than $1 billion in research and development for ACERT and other clean diesel projects to help our customers meet today’s standards, and future regulations,” says Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar’s group president.

At International Truck and Engine Corp., Warrenville, IL, for example, incorporating updated EGR technology into the new trucks will translate into price increases of $5,000 to $6,000 for mid-range diesel trucks and $7,000 to $10,000 for Class-8 vehicles. Additional charges may apply with some engines where higher horsepower will require dual exhaust after-treatment.

Detroit Diesel Corp., a subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler and part of the Freightliner Group, estimates that its engines with 2007 emissions reduction technology are likely to raise the price of a typical Class 8 vehicle by an average of $6,638. Detroit Diesel supplies engines for many vehicles in the Freightliner stable, which include Freightliner, Mercedes Benz, Western Star, Sterling and Mitsubishi Fuso.

Volvo Trucks North America, Tampa, FL, is adding a $7,500 technology “surcharge” to its new 2007 models to offset costs of meeting the new emissions standards.

According to Scott Kress, Volvo’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, the company “has made a very substantial investment in developing not just engines, but complete vehicle solutions to meet the 2007 standard. That technology has tons of costs behind it.”

Columbus, IN-based Cummins, which supplies engines for the Freightliner Group, Volvo, International, Ford, Kenworth, Mack and Peterbilt, anticipates similar increases.

In anticipation of the new regulations, truck manufacturers have also gone—and continue to go—to great time and expense in field testing their new engines prior to their launch next January.

Throughout the development of the new engines, International has been focused on achieving comparable performance to what its customers see today and is conducting some of the largest field tests in its history to help achieve that goal, according to Phil Christman, vice president of product creation at International. Tests seek to gain data on power levels, fuel economy, durability, reliability and maintenance levels and will include extensive winter and summer testing over millions of miles.

At Detroit Diesel, Tim Tindall, director of emission projects, says engine modifications will not impact performance. “The improved design enhances airflow, yields a cleaner combustion cycle, helps increase fuel economy and provides the driver with better load response and acceleration.”

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