Freightliner fields twin-engine strategy
Aug 15, 2002 12:00 PM, By Sean KilcarrASHEVILLE, NC – With the deadline for providing new low-emission diesel engines fast approaching, truck maker Freightliner LLC has settled on a plan to offer buyers two primary power plant choices for their trucks – one with EGR and one without.
At a press conference here, Freightliner and its sister company, Detroit Diesel Corp., discussed the engine options it plans to offer truck buyers after October 1 this year.
On one hand will be Detroit Diesel's Series 60 low-emission diesel, which was submitted to EPA for certification on August 14. It uses exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology.
On the other hand, Freightliner plans to offer the Mercedes Benz MBE4000 in its heavy-duty trucks, including those built by its Sterling and Western Star subsidiaries.
The MBE4000 does not have to meet the October 1 low-emission standards until 2004 as Mercedes Benz was not part of the consent decree signed by most of the major diesel engine makers in 1998 that speeded up the introduction of those standards.
John Morelli, vp of the Series 60 2002 engine program at Detroit Diesel, said that 25 of its EGR-equipped truck engines are already in field trials, with the longest-running test totaling 100,000 miles so far. He added that Detroit Diesel has had 500 EGR-equipped transit bus engines in operation since 1996, with several totaling 300,000 miles of operation, showing that the company's EGR technology has a proven track record.
Detroit Diesel added that it would provide support for Freightliner's MBE4000 introduction, including technician training and customer field service needs. DaimlerChrysler of Germany owns Detroit Diesel, Mercedes Benz and Freightliner LLC.
Mark Lampert, vp of sales and marketing for Freightliner, believes the company's twin-engine strategy will help it surmount what he predicts will be difficult sales period in the first quarter of next year.
"A lot of carriers will wait to buy trucks I think, though it is too early to say what will specifically happen," he said. "It depends on the economy, freight volumes coming out of the holiday season, and their view of EGR technology. We're optimistic that overall sales in 2003 will be good, but they will be second-half oriented." Having both EGR and non-EGR engine options, however, is the main reason for that confidence, he said.
"We feel we are in a great position regarding truck sales past October 2002," said Lampert.