It is usual for environmental legislation to set emission standards that require the latest available technology to achieve. Meeting even stricter limits than the law demands is naturally encouraged and there are rewards for doing so. But those rewards take a quite different form in Europe than they do in North America. In several European member states, for some years there have been financial incentives for commercial vehicle operators to invest in trucks or buses which achieve ‘early compliance’, most notably new vehicles certified to Euro 5 standards put into service as much as two years before those standards became mandatory. A similar strategy is being followed for Euro 6.
A separate interim standard, initially described as ‘Euro 5 plus’ but later dubbed EEV – standing for enhance environmental vehicle – was set as long ago as 1999, for purely incentive purposes. The attendant operator rewards under both schemes varied from country to country. Germany led the way through concessionary Autobahn (motorway) tolls.
Under EPA legislation in the US and Canada, it is not the vehicle owner who reaps a financial benefit from ‘extra clean’ emissions, but the manufacturer and specifically the engine producer.
However, under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) legislation in the US and Canada, it is not the vehicle owner who reaps a financial benefit from ‘extra clean’ emissions, but the manufacturer and specifically – because of the way the North American heavy vehicle industry has traditionally been structured – the engine producer. The EPA has for many years operated a system of emission credits, a scheme looked on askance by European legislators, whereby every engine rolling off the production line that meets the current mandated limit with a margin to spare earns a credit. The accumulated credits can then be used to allow the sale by that manufacturer of other technically non-compliant engine types.
The whole notion of emission credits is controversial, as evidenced by the ongoing dispute between Navistar and all its Class 8 truck market competitors over its continuing sale of trucks whose NOx (oxides of nitrogen) emissions breach EPA 2010 limits.
Volvo’s Mack Trucks subsidiary has been first out of the starting blocks by announcing its plans to build GHG credits by cutting fuel consumption and hence reduce CO2 emissions from selected diesel-engined vehicles.
But that controversy has not stopped the principle of credits being carried forward by the EPA to include the greenhouse gas (GHG) control legislation for trucks and buses in North America slated for initial implementation from MY 2014. Volvo‘s Mack Trucks subsidiary has been first out of the starting blocks by announcing its plans to build GHG credits by cutting fuel consumption and hence reduce CO2 emissions from selected diesel-engined vehicles. Mack intends to introduce speed limiters and anti-idling devices as means of saving fuel, to an extent which, says David McKenna, director of powertrain sales, will meet the GHG and fuel efficiency standards (somewhat curiously subject to directives from two separate US regulatory bodies) with margins to spare, thereby earning a new category of environmental credits.
McKenna, whose comments can be taken to apply equally to the Volvo Trucks brand in North America, adds that those credits might be used to allow the continuing sale – at lower prices – of vehicles without those fuel-saving refinements which fall short of technically meeting the new GHG standards, which when fully implemented in 2017, are designed to reduce the carbon footprint of diesel trucks and buses by 20%.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Alan Bunting has a background in engineering, and has been writing on commercial vehicle and powertrain related topics since the 1960s. He has been an Automotive World contributor since 1996.
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