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NOx limits row escalates in US

  • 18 June 2012
  • By David Wilcox

A bitter row among big US engine makers ratcheted up another notch last week when a US Appeals Court in the District of Columbia ruled that the government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had been wrong to allow Navistar to sell truck engines that do not comply with the EPA 2010 emissions limits.

Navistar, which supplies engines to its in-house International truck brand and to external customers, declared years ago that it would achieve the EPA 2010 tough NOx (oxides of nitrogen) limit without using SCR to inject AdBlue, called Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) in the US.

Navistar is the only US heavy-duty diesel-engine maker to adopt this EGR-only strategy. But it struggled to meet the limit, and has relied on “green credits” earned before 2010 for selling engines that were cleaner than required under the previous 2007 EPA emission rules. These credits allow Navistar to sell engines with NOx emissions that exceed the 2010 limit of 0.2g/bhp/hr.

Navistar belatedly submitted its MaxxForce 13 engine – a US version of MAN’s 12.4-litre D26 – for EPA 2010 certification in February but it has still not been certified. With Navistar’s stockpile of credits almost exhausted, the EPA decided to allow Navistar to continue to supply non-compliant engines on payment of a US$1,900 penalty for each engine. But other engine manufacturers including Volvo, Daimler and Cummins in the US cried foul, bringing a legal case against the EPA for allegedly failing to consult adequately about this arrangement.

Ruling against the EPA, Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote: “Navistar’s day of reckoning is fast approaching: its supply of credits is dwindling and its engines remain non-compliant.”

It is unclear how long Navistar’s heavy truck engine production can continue. “While this was a lawsuit filed by certain Navistar competitors against the EPA, Navistar is impacted by the decision. We disagree with the court’s ruling and will ask for a rehearing,” said Navistar. “Navistar will work with EPA to fully understand the ruling and its impact on the use of NCPs until a final rule is implemented.”

Navistar admits that speculation surrounding this issue is hitting its bottom line. In the second quarter, ended April 30, it reported a loss of US$172m.


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