How green was my lorry

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It’s not often you get fundamental disagreements over the technological direction an industry should take. In the commercial vehicle market, there was a disagreement about eighty years ago over whether steam or diesel was the way forward. There are still a few who think the wrong side won.

Since then nothing has split the industry like the argument over which technology to use to meet the latest European emission standards – Euro 4 and Euro 5. On the one hand, Scania and MAN have taken the view that the engine should be designed to operate in a clean way – using what is known as exhaust gas recirculation – while the others have taken the view that it is better to produce a more efficient engine and deal with the pollutants afterwards. This is the selective catalytic reduction system.

There has been a lot of hot air expelled on both sides – but it is only now that there is any significant indication of what the operators have been thinking.

Vehicle registration figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that the truck market was down 8.69 per cent last year at just over 50,000 units. It’s not a bad performance given the distortions in the market the previous year. But what is very noticeable is that MAN bucked the trend completely and increased its market share while the other EGR champion, Scania, performed more or less in line with the market.

The rest were down on the market, suggesting that there has been some shift among truck buyers towards EGR. However, this hardly represents a conclusive victory for EGR, and government moves to encourage early adoption of the Euro 5 standard could work to the benefit of SCR engines.

Transport for London recently agreed £2 congestion charge discounts for Euro 5 trucks. Operators of Euro 5 lorries will be able to apply for a discounted rate of £6 per day for up to two years from 27 October this year (new applications will close in October 2009). This will only apply to vehicles that include on-board diagnostics, which were left off certain early Euro 5 models.

At the same time, TfL says it will extend the 100 per cent discounts for LPG and CNG powered trucks till January 2010. Euro 5 vans get a deal too, but lasting until January 2012.

Robin Dickeson of the SMMT says: “Clearly incentives for the cleanest and latest technology make sense – they bring wider benefits than just better emissions; better brakes, less noise and greater safety, for instance.”

There were those in the SCR camp who argued that EGR would never work at Euro 5. Both Scania and MAN have been working hard to prove them wrong. Last autumn, Scania announced that its Euro 5 EGR engine was ready for market introduction. Two engines from the range will be unveiled at the CV Show in Birmingham later this month.

The engine has taken five years to development and will gradually replace the current platform over the next few years starting with the five and six cylinder inline engines. Euro 5 becomes mandatory within the European Union in October 2009 and Scania reckons it is the first truck manufacturer to achieve Euro 5 without exhaust gas after-treatment.

A key element of the design is a new fuel injection system, which Scania uses to control performance and fuel efficiency. The Scania XPI injection system was developed jointly with Cummins.

Volvo started out in the SCR camp but since last autumn it has also had a foot in the EGR camp.

It launched a D13 EGR engine in four power output levels and is certified for current emission requirements according to Euro 4 – but without after-treatment of exhaust gases.

Mats Franzén, engine manager with the product strategy and planning department, says: “The D13B with EGR is a complement to the D13A with SCR. SCR technology is still our main way ahead but now we are broadening our engine range and offer low-emission engines irrespective of exhaust emission control. Our industry-leading expertise within these two main diesel engine technologies thus benefits our customers to an even greater extent.”

The D13B engine series is offered with power outputs of 360, 400, 440 and 500 hp and is available in both the Volvo FM and the Volvo FH, although the 500 hp variant is reserved solely for Volvo FH.

“The EGR solution is ideal for a variety of special applications in construction operations that require flexible chassis installations. For example crane trucks or trucks that might require vertical exhaust pipes,” says Franzén. “However, for long-haul duties and other applications that consume a lot of fuel, the SCR solution is our recommendation since it is the most fuel-efficient alternative today.”


Mercedes-Benz unveiled its third generation Actros in January with, it says, 37 individual measures to perfect its economy, comfort and design. “As a first in this market segment, a fully automated transmission – Mercedes-PowerShift – is now equipped as standard.

Since it was introduced in 1996, it has sold more than 550,000 units in more than 100 countries. The new Actros is powered by BlueTec engines in six output classes from 235 kW to 350 kW with V6-engines, and in three output classes from 375 kW to 440 kW with V8-engines.

DAF Trucks is using the CV Show to highlight its green credentials. All five of its exhibits are to full Euro 5 specification (not legally required until October 2009), feature AS-tronic automated transmission and two of them with “enhanced environmentally-friendly vehicle” (EEV) engine technology. Marketing director Tony Pain says: “We’re consolidating our sustained market leading position with an array of advanced vehicles while we invest heavily in the production and assembly facilities needed to make even more of them.”

In particular, it will be showing an LF45 four by two rigid with a 160 hp engine to Euro 5 specification, which also meets EEV emission standards originally devised for gas fuelled engines. This technology reduces smoke and harmful particulate matter to almost half that of Euro 5 levels.

DAF has just invested some 50m euros in a new Engine Test Centre in Eindhoven. Aad Goudriaan, president of DAF Trucks, says: “Increasingly strict legislation in this area has led to increasingly cleaner engines. A modern truck or bus with a Euro 5 engine produces 75 per cent less NOx (nitrogen oxides) and 94 per cent fewer particulates than a Euro 1 engine of ten to fifteen years ago. And the future Euro 6 engines will be 95 per cent and 97 per cent cleaner than Euro 1, respectively.


“A modern diesel motor already now has reached the emission values that a few years ago were only thought possible from gas engines. In the meantime the diesel is winning on many fronts. In our view it is therefore unbelievable that local and regional governments are demanding gas engines for public transport and municipal cleaning services. DAF is convinced that the diesel engine will continue to play an important role also in the future, and not just in combination with hybrid technology, which DAF is also developing.”

Iveco has championed CNG technology and used last year’s Amsterdam exhibition to show its new Daily CNG with a three-litre multipoint injection dedicated natural gas engine. The engine is certified to the EEV standard but with a NOx limit of only 1/4 of the required value. The combustion strategy follows the stoichiometric regime and, coupled to a three-way exhaust catalyst provides for very low tail-pipe emissions. This combustion strategy allows for changes in natural gas composition without any adverse engine effects because the closed loop lambda control is able to maintain the necessary air fuel ratio under all circumstances.

Iveco has also been working on diesel-electric hybrid vehicles. This year will see field tests for Daily and Eurocargo hybrid prototypes in FedEx and TNT livery respectively. It reckons that the latest generation hybrid technology enables fuel savings of up to 30 per cent in urban environments thanks to sophisticated control and operation systems like stop and start, starting in electric mode and energy recovery from braking.

In these days of driver shortages, it is no surprise that providing an attractive working environment has become a key concern for suppliers. Win over the driver and you are well on the way to making a sale.

This focus on the interior is evident in the latest version of the Iveco Stralis tractor, which was launched last year.

Iveco says: “The real innovation with Stralis is mainly the cabin, resulting from the work carried out with great determination, in collaboration with the dealers and customers who took part in the design, to improve its driving comfort and the life onboard.”

Isuzu has created a niche in the light truck sector but is now introducing a range of heavier vehicles. Visitors to the CV Show will get a first glimpse of the Forward range of four by two rigids at 11, 12, 15 and 18 tonnes.

The range uses Isuzu’s newly developed cab, and initially it will be introduced to the UK with Isuzu’s proven Euro 4 diesel engines using EGR technology matched to either Isuzu’s ‘Easyshift’ or manual transmission gearboxes. The Forward range comes with Isuzu’s three-year unlimited mileage warranty as standard.

Marketing director Keith Child says: “UK customers will be able to take delivery of 11 and 12 tonne models as early as June/July and 15 and 18 tonne models in November/December. Given that many of the European manufacturers are offering UK customers extraordinarily long order lead times for new products, we are already taking orders for the new vehicles because we can beat those lead times. To date we have approaching 30 orders ‘in the bag’ and every one of the vehicles to be displayed on our 2008 stand is sold.”

Hybrid trials

DHL is trialling two hybrid vehicles in its operations, a Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid and a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid.

The trial includes DHL Express operations in the UK as well as mail transport in Germany. In the coming months further Daimler hybrid vehicles will be integrated into the DHL fleet.

Daimler and Deutsche Post anticipate that the two 7.5 tonners, which run on hybrid diesel-electric engines, will use up to 20 per cent less fuel than conventional gasoline or diesel vehicles and will also lead to a reduction in each vehicle’s carbon dioxide emissions.

DHL has experience with hybrid vehicles in Japan where it has been using the Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid since July 2006.

Handing over the trucks, Andreas Renschler, head of Daimler Trucks, said: “Today, Daimler is the global market leader in commercial vehicles with a hybrid drive. Our ‘Shaping Future Transportation’ initiative for a cleaner environment shows that we take our responsibility towards our customers and the environment very seriously.”

Deutsche Post World Net is currently working on a comprehensive climate protection programme for the entire group. Last year it opened its Innovation Centre and one point of focus is the use of alternative drives, such as electric, gas and hybrid engines.

Daimler says it is now market leader in the field of hybrid-drive commercial vehicles with around 1,500 Orion hybrid buses, more than 100 Freightliner vehicles and 200 light trucks and buses by Fuso. Taken together with the natural-gas-powered Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses in Europe, the total fleet of alternative-drive commercial vehicles delivered to customers numbers over 3000.

It says that until zero emissions using a fuel cell drive system become a cost-effective proposition, further substantial progress in reducing fuel consumption is only conceivable with hybrid technologies. Two different drive systems are integrated into hybrid vehicles. The energy generated when braking is recuperated in the form of electrical energy, stored in batteries and reused to power an electric motor. Thanks to this additional drive unit, a smaller, lighter diesel engine can be installed to produce the same overall performance.

In the case of trucks Daimler AG has opted for the so-called “parallel” hybrid, where the electric motor is integrated into the drive train and usually contributes its output to that of the diesel engine.

The company has also been working on fuel cell powered vehicles running trials with 30 buses based on the Mercedes-Benz Citaro in the fleets of public transport operators. These vehicles covered a total mileage of more than two million kilometres and clocked up more than 125,000 operating hours.

However, it says, for large-scale use of zero emissions technology in heavy commercial vehicles to become possible, the operating life of the fuel cells needs to be improved and the overall costs drastically reduced. These will be the main challenges for engineers for some time to come. In addition the hydrogen supply infrastructure is still lacking.

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