Diesel Rolls on Despite Record Cummins’ Emissions Recall

August 07, 2018 by Alan Adler, @AlanAdler

The recall of 500,000 Cummins Inc. diesel engines for emissions issues is the largest of its kind on record. But given the state of current powertrain technology, large recalls and various emissions scandals don’t threaten the use of diesel engines in commercial vehicles.

“As far as a fuel option, it will never go away,” said Darry Stuart, principal of DWS Fleet Management Services in Wrentham, Mass. “You’ll have some electrification. But until batteries get a lot better and until the cost gets in line, diesel is still going to be first choice of many and most.”

If anything, the gains in advanced emissions technology are bringing more diesel-powered products to market, including a diesel version of the sales-leading Ford F-150 half-ton pickup.

“It is too big of a train to stop,” said Antti Lindstrom, Englewood, Colo.-based automotive analyst for IHS Markit. “There is too much money invested and being invested. Diesel technology is still being tweaked.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week said Cummins agreed to recall the 2010-15 model medium- and heavy-duty trucks in the United States to correct a faulty Selective Catalyst Reduction emissions device that was wearing out too soon.

It was an embarrassing recall for a company that depends on selling reliable equipment.

“Durability shouldn’t be an issue in this day and age,” said Joseph Phillippi, principal at AutoTrends Consulting in Andover, N.J.

The California Air Resources Board said that about 60 engine families were involved in the recall, though it tested only one. The agency praised Cummins for recalling all affected engines, which are in big rigs, larger pickup trucks and some buses. Heavy-duty truck customers will get details this month, and medium-duty truck owners in March 2019.

A similar issue affects 232,000 Dodge Ram 2500 and 3500 vehicles with pre-2013 Cummins engines. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles spokesman Eric Mayne told Trucks.com that all customers except chassis cab owners have been notified of the recalls that began in 2016 and 2017. Those vehicles and the medium- and heavy-duty trucks all produce excessive amounts of smog-forming nitrogen oxide. CARB said the issue was discovered through portable mobile emissions systems that measured truck emissions while operating on streets and highways under typical operating demands and conditions.

Cummins has set aside $181 million to cover recall costs.

Diesel emissions issues have improved dramatically in the last decade, Stuart said. Part of that is due to more stringent EPA emissions regulations. Part is a natural learning curve. “Gasoline has it down to a science,” he said. “Diesel is still working through trials and tribulations of emissions.”

The Cummins recall results from a part failure. Unlike other companies, the engine manufacturer is not suspected of wrongdoing.

In 2015, German automaker Volkswagen admitted to rigging diesel-powered cars between 2009 and 2015 with a device designed to cheat federal and state emissions testing. Software in the electronic controls of the vehicles changed how they operated when undergoing testing, while on the road the VWs were emitting up to 40 times the legally allowed amount of nitrogen oxide.

Since then, FCA and General Motors have been accused of similar activity.

Mayne said FCA is working with federal authorities to resolve EPA and CARB allegations that it had eight undisclosed Auxiliary Emission Control Devices on 104,000 Ram trucks and Jeep sport-utility vehicles from the 2014-16 model years. The Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Justice Department sued the automaker in May 2017. Mayne said plaintiff’s attorneys may have paid for testing of two of the trucks by West Virginia University’s Center for Alternative Fuels and Emissions as a precursor to civil litigation.

A U.S. District Court judge in Detroit in February rejected motions by GM and Robert Bosch to dismiss a lawsuit alleging use of three emission defeat devices in 705,000 Chevrolet HD 2500 and 3500 Silverados and GMC Sierras from 2011-16.

Bosch said in a statement that it “takes the allegations of manipulation of the diesel software very seriously” and is cooperating while defending its interests in several jurisdictions. GM did not respond to a request for comment.

Read Next: Incentive Money Pouring in for California Clean Truck, Bus Programs

6 Responses

  1. Butch

    California has more smogFrom the fires and dry out but yet they waste of time and money on taking a mission support on their whole state is nothing but smoke

    Reply
  2. Westly Hall

    Smog is disned to make us all broke it’s just abig joke.all the years and I have yet to see any thing good com out of this we all been paying in too CA smog and we still have global warming and hot wether their is never going to be a END to this shizzle is there

    Reply
  3. Mike

    Smog is an important thing to control, people of the US, get attached to their cars and trucks for various reasons, n don’t give a crap about the environment n the damages it’s doing, I get it, something needs to be done, whether you like it or not, with that being said I know that adding further expenses for more harmful chemicals n choking out diesels with pollution pumps etc isn’t the way, I thought at one point in time scientists have found an alternative fuel that was much cleaner n safer to use in diesels and gas engines, that would be alot cheaper to purchase per gallon n safer for the environment at the same time keep the performance up. These fuels have been side lined once the Trump administration came in because Republican people don’t believe in damage due to green house gasses n pollution, because they support big oil industry, I do not support dirty industry or the production of fossil fuels. There is another way, we both could win n save money, (Fuel Alternatives) not fossil fuels. It would save money, create jobs, cleaner environment n wouldn’t need these added expensed additives and unnecessary bullshit Government agencies taking action to shut production level down, this way everyone gets what they want, if the technology is there ppl, why not try it. Obviously Fossil fuel is clearly not the way.

    Reply
  4. John

    Glad I got the last pick up with a 59 L Cummings. All this pollution stuff on new vehicles is junk just to ruin the diesel. Just like diesel prices

    Reply
  5. William H Bailey

    Try getting recall work most dealers say it take two to three weeks to get you in to check it out. Very poor service from Ram Dealers!!!!

    Reply
  6. GeeBee

    Face it – diesel as it is sold now is poison and should be a banned. It’s not just that it creates much more pollution particulates than gas, but the chemical make up is more toxic to humans (your kids and grandchildren), animals, soil, water – yeah, everything. The diesel fuel companies did a great job convincing people the few extra mpgs made it a better choice – but more and more this narrative is being exposed as a lie. I’m not a environmentalist freak, but common sense tells me diesel fuel use should be curbed and eventually eliminated over the next 20 – 30 years.

    Reply

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