Reversing Course

What does Cummins' about-face on SCR mean to you?

Do you buy Cummins' engines in your heavy-duty vehicles? Were you counting on avoiding the whole SCR/urea issue in 2010 buy spec'ing Cummins ISX engines with enhanced EGR? Hate to break it to you, but you're going to have to rethink your plans. Yesterday Cummins announced that it is changing its strategy for meeting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2010 diesel emissions requirements for lower NOx levels. The company had previously announced that it would meet the 2010 standards for its medium-duty engines using selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and urea, while its heavy-duty engines would rely solely on enhanced EGR and therefore avoid the use of SCR and liquid urea, which many consider cumbersome and inconvenient. The beauty of Cummins' original plan, of course, was that users would not have to refill a urea tank on their trucks, something the company was not shy about promoting. But yesterday that all changed. The company announced that, due to rising fuel prices and technological advances in the construction of SCR aftertreatment devices, it will now equip its 11.9 and 15 liter ISX engines for 2010 with SCR devices. That means that any truck with one of these engines will have to have a urea tank, and the drivers of those vehicles will have to fill those urea tanks regularly, or risk damaging their trucks and being in violation of the law. What made the difference? Well, the Cummins folks explained that new materials being used to make SCR devices have made it possible to switch to this technology and actually save fuel. Seems that $4 a gallon really has been the tipping point... Since every other engine maker is already planning to use SCR and urea, it simply means that Cummins is joining the crowd, and there's no harm in that. Of course, you lose an option, and that's never good. And, if you were planning your 2010 purchases based on Cummins' previous plans, you might not be too happy about that.