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Study: Reported Problems with Newer Heavy-Duty Engines Increase, Fuel Efficiency Declines

5 October 2006

As manufacturers of heavy-duty truck engines implement new emission technologies to meet tougher emission standards, customers are increasingly experiencing problems with their engines, according to the 10th annual JD Power and Associates 2006 Heavy-Duty Truck Engine/Transmission Study.

The study measures customer satisfaction with the engines in two-year-old heavy-duty trucks (Class 8) by examining four factors. By order of importance, these are: engine quality (30%); engine performance (26%); engine cost of ownership (22%); and engine warranty (22%). The study examines engines supplied in 2004 model-year trucks, the second model year impacted by the Consent Decree that raised diesel engine emission standards.

To meet emission regulations, manufacturers are redesigning engines and employing new technologies reduce emissions. The average number of reported engine problems in the 2006 study has increased to 74 PP100 (engine problems per 100 vehicles)—up from 46 PP100 in 2005.

In the 2005 study, there was a greater mix of manufacturers using old- and new-technology engines, so we’re just now starting to see the overall impact of the emission regulations. Whenever a new technology is employed, it takes a while to work the bugs out. As time goes on and engines are better equipped and designed to follow the emission standards, the number of problems should gradually decline.

—Brian Etchells, Senior Research Manager, JD Power and Associates

The study also finds that among the four drivers of engine satisfaction, customers are least satisfied with the cost of ownership, particularly in the areas of routine engine maintenance costs and fuel efficiency. Reported fuel efficiency for heavy-duty engines has declined to 5.72 mpg in 2006—down from 5.91 mpg in 2005 and 6.04 mpg in 2004.

The 2006 Heavy-Duty Truck Engine/Transmission Study is based on the responses of 2,529 primary maintainers of two-year-old heavy-duty trucks (Class 8).

October 5, 2006 in Diesel, Emissions, Engines, Fuel Efficiency | Permalink | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)

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Polluters upset that they have to pick up a bigger tab and also deal with other hassles of improving emissions technology? Listen to a tiny violin playing. :)

Just remember, these "polluters" run the country. Every single thing you buy has at some point been shipped via truck. Right or wrong, this has a nationwide economic impact as the shipping companies pass on the increased maintenance and fuel costs to consumers.

Well, they'll pass the costs onto the consumers. I personally don't mind paying 5-10 cents more for my goods to be delivered if the vehicle pollutes less.

Just remember, these "polluters" run the country.

They do?

Every single thing you buy has at some point been shipped via truck.

I buy things from local producers all the time.

Right or wrong, this has a nationwide economic impact as the shipping companies pass on the increased maintenance and fuel costs to consumers.

Good. Better to pay a few bucks than choke on pollution. The marginal extra cost of this is less than 10 cents per gallon, yet energy policy has tripled the price of fuel in the past few years.

Not much detail here, but seems like a blow for the "we can legislate technology" crowd. Of course they won't see it that way and will whine that the engineers just aren't trying. In the process of reducing soot and NOx, which are basically local pollutants, the engines will create significantly more CO2, a GHG with global effect. To me it would seem logical to require these emissions standards for vehicles used in polluted urban areas and be more flexible in rural areas (think I-80 in western Nebraska, or the majority of long-haul trucking that is using these engines) where local pollution is not an issue. But no, one size fits all says the EPA - unless you're California or its hangers-on, then you get to impose something even worse. Yay for progress.

In the process of reducing soot and NOx, which are basically local pollutants, the engines will create significantly more CO2, a GHG with global effect.

I trust you are aware that average fuel economy for semis reached a peak of 6.1 mpg in 1997, then dropped to 5.2 mpg by 2002 - a 15% drop. Compare that to the estimated 5% drop reported in this Powers survey, apparently caused by the transition to new fuels and emissions technology. At 5.72 mpg, that's 10% better mileage than the average semi was in 2002 - so it's hard to see how this is increasing CO2 emissions. Looks to me like fuel mileage is tracking fuel prices instead.

"To me it would seem logical to require these emissions standards for vehicles used in polluted urban areas and be more flexible in rural areas (think I-80 in western Nebraska, or the majority of long-haul trucking that is using these engines) where local pollution is not an issue."

OK truckers can drive different/dirtier equipment in western Nebraska- that's logical, economical and enforceable- yeah sure

pizmo, I'd like to know how you buy everything from local producers. Last time I checked, virutally all clothing, furniture, consumer electronics, etc. are made in Asia. In fact, virtually everything other than food is made overseas.

Clean-up of last massive air polluter standing – commercial diesel engines – is awesome achievement. Couple of years ago engine manufacturers predicted 5% decline in fuel efficiency, possible reliability problems, massive increase in down time, maintenance cost, and purchase price. They managed to minimize all these negative effects of 10 times cleaner engines of new generation. They did great job.

New truck engines are equipped with computerized control, wide system of engine sensors, and OBD system. Soon truck maintenance shops will get used to so far unfamiliar technology, and will begin to benefit from OBD greatly. According to the report, we can conclude that teething problems of modern revolutionary diesel technology are surprisingly mild.

pizmo, I'd like to know how you buy everything from local producers.

I didn't say I bought everything from local producers. I was simply countering the polar opposite hypothesis that everything I buy somehow comes to me via truck.

Last time I checked, virutally all clothing, furniture, consumer electronics, etc. are made in Asia.

Like I said, I didn't say I bought everything from local producers.

In fact, virtually everything other than food is made overseas.

Manufacturing is 15% of US GDP, or roughly $2 trillion per year. On a personal level, I make a conscious effort to buy American products - clothing included.

Again, I didn't say I bought everything locally, nor does import/domestic have any relevance to the issue of trucking, since obviously I can buy American and still have the products (and their inputs) be dependent on trucking.

Back when the automakes had to add emmissions controls to their cars it choked power and there was a fuel economy hit. Fast forward a few years and the power and economy was back. I'm willing to bet that the diesel engine companies will solve these problems. Hey GE has a locomtive diesel that puts out as much power (4400HP) as their old model but it's 40% cleaner (their claim) and more fuel efficent.

This is nothing that a bio-diesel hybrid can't cure. Locomotive switchers are already in place with this technology. The smaller-scale would be ideal for delivery trucks.

I would also point out here that the state of the Interstate system IMHO can account for such mileage declines. The interstate highway system is past prime by at least 20 years, and the resulting traffic snarls, and off-peak repairs are cutting into EVERYONE's fuel mileage.

Nonetheless, faults per hundred increases like this indicate R&D/D&D compromises for the $$$$$$$.

Why can I not find a good reference for the average mpg of a heavy duty fleet. I found this JD Power report, but where did they get their data?

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