Telehandlers in the green zone: how will Tier IV and Stage IIB affect the telehandler market.

26 July 2011

Next year, 2012, the interim Tier IV in North America and Stage IIIB in Europe engine emission regulations will be applied to engines in the 75 to 175HP (up to 56kW) and this will have an impact on larger telehandlers and some large aerial work platforms.

Launched in 1996, the emission reduction plan for all new motor vehicles marked a new phase from January 2012. All off-road vehicles are impacted by this measure. For Genie and JLG it is just their telehandler range which is affected, but some of Haulotte's big booms are also effected along with telehandlers

For all off-road vehicles in this class the emission reduction will be applied in two steps. The first one from 2012 is the reduction of particulate matter (or "smoke" because it comes out of the exhaust pipe in the form of black smoke). It is essentially an incomplete combustion of diesel fuel and the second from September 2014 the reduction of NOx (NOx interacts with other chemicals and sunlight to form ground level ozone, commonly referred to as "smog") exhaust emissions.

Rather than insisting that the industry just flick a switch and go over entirely to new engines on 1 Jan 2012 the two markets are allowing the manufacturers to introduce machines transitionally through the Tpem programme in North America and EUFlex in Europe which allows a delay on implementation to Tier IV and Stange IIIB

Erik Elzinga, Terex AWP's senior director of engineering said that EuFlex and TPem allows the sale of Tier 4 and Stage IIIB machines alongside current machines.

Brian Boeckman, Global Product Director, Telehandlers at JLG said that although EUFlex and Tpem allows gradual change over to the new engines machines that sell in higher volumes will naturally come in line more quickly that slower selling models.

The major manufacturers have been working towards the next stage in regulations for some years. Mr Elzinga said, "Terex has been talking with customers about the issue for some time, many of them were looking to Terex to give a glimpse into the future. Their primary concerns were that suppliers were ready -Terex is and our engine suppliers are."

"The strategy is to make the machine transparent to the end user so they will not recognise any difference in performance."

Mr Boeckman admitted to the frustration of carrying out a lot of development work and yet not necessarily adding any more productivity and customer benefits, "However, in making changes to the engine it forces a re-evaluation of the machines, their future potential and how well they respond to market need - and we are contributing to a better environment." He said

Haulotte said that its aim is to the customer at the top of our development, reduce the impact of the engine regulation and to increase the machine productivity. "We are working like the automotive industry to optimize and reduce the power consumption of our machine and have the proper engine size that best fit to performance."

"There are two possible solutions: reducing the needed power and, therefore, downsizing the engine to obtain one more year production, or find solution with a new engine ready for January 2012 with NOx trap (diesel particulate filter).

Inside the engine there is EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) where some of the exhaust gas is reburned in the engine, this adds to cooling requirements of the engine. There is also exhaust after treatment DOC (diesel oxidisation catalyst)- basically burning soot into ash. Engine suppliers are combining these two things.

In additions the engines are electronically controlled as opposed to mechanically controlled..

Haulotte says "The new technology includes more electronic control in the engine. The smart use of the additional engine intelligence will increase the working comfort and give enhanced service capability (more communication, data exchange)."

Inevitably the new machines will cost more

Although Mr Elzinga said that during the design process the aim is to use innovation and technical knowledge to offset this as much as possible

Now while the manufacturers prepare machines for the emissions regulations in North America and Europe they also have customers in other countries which are less regulated or do not have access to the low sulphur fuels run in these engines.

"It does makes it more complex for manufacturers and those distributors selling in other countries [outside Western Europe and N America]," says Mr Elzinga.

"There need to be different types of machines for developing markets - this is within the Genie plan. We have developed market engines, and emerging market engines. There are lesser regulated countries on their own journey some at Tier 2 or Tier3 levels."

So as a user what do the new engine regulations mean to you? Why spend the extra money on the Tier IV and Stage IIIB conforming machines?

Mr Boeckman said, "From the customer perspective - most will prefer to take an older engine as long as possible because of the price differentiation.

"The big drivers for the adoption of this machinery will come from institutions rather than private enterprise, from towns, states or regions that insist on non-polluting equipment being used by contractors. For example the strict emissions laws imposed in California."

Mr Boeckman did foresee another impact on the customers caused by having different machines for different markets, "With regulated and less regulated markets there will be at least two different product lines carrying the associated costs. Whereas once customers could pull from a single large inventory of machines now they will be split into smaller pools."

The implication is that this could increase backlogs and delivery times.

Training on the new machines should not, however be too onerous, the new models are designed operate for 5000 hours without service so any problems in that time period will be handled under warrantee.

Any additional training will be offered by the machine manufacturers through their usual channels.

With the new regulations creating at least two distinct markets for the larger telehandlers the effect on used equipment prices is unsure.

Mr Elzinga suggested that because the machines with non compliant engines will not become obsolete, prices might rise, however, Mr Boeckman suggests that when city and state regulation pushes non-compliant machines into the market - the prices fall.

Despite the substantial work already done by manufacturers on producing compliant machines and consulting with their customers, Tier IV and Stage IIIB are still interim measures. There will be another change to the regulations in 2015 and says Mr Elzinga, "The end of the legislation horizon is 2017 where we expect fuel efficiency to be highlighted. Diesel engines really can't any cleaner it will be about, idling engines switching off and perhaps hybrids.

"Genie is looking at more advanced hybrids we have had bi-energy for a number of years. Tier IV increases the cost of complexity which may make it it more economical to put hybrid engines into bigger units.

In general with the Genie range Mr Elzinga hinted there would be i more innovations introduced but was not prepared to give anymore away

Mr Boeckman too said there was development in the pipeline at JLG, "A little bit of everything extending the range and adding features and benefits we are conscious too of cost reduction activities -a healthy mix."

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