SMMT launches van buyers' guide

The SMMT has launched a van buyers' guide aimed at providing light CV purchasers and drivers with information on how to reduce running costs and CO2 emissions.

Called Right Van Man and produced jointly with the Vehicle Certification Agency and the Department for Transport, the double-sided leaflet is available to download and includes advice on vehicle selection, fuel consumption reduction and driving technique.

The SMMT is also gearing up for a May launch of an online database providing official CO2 and fuel consumption information to support buying decisions on light CVs up to 3.5 tonnes.

As well as selecting vehicle size - small, medium or large van along with pickup and 4x4 - users will be able to refine their searches by fuel type, transmission, GVW, vehicle length, make and model.

Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive, says: "It is widely recognised that the environmental impact of a vehicle is affected by its use and the way it is driven, so the advice in the guide helps to make van buyers more aware of what to consider when choosing a particular model."

Are new exhaust systems just hot air?

The environment needs to be rescued, no-one disputes that, but can exhausts deliver more than just hot air? We report from the seventh International CTI Forum Exhaust Systems.

It is a compliment to the road transport sector that it has often made huge steps towards a greener future before legislation is unleashed. For example, some operators were running Euro-5-spec trucks almost two years ago, where it would have been fine to comply with Euro-3 regs.

The vast majority of vehicles on the road today use an internal combustion engine, without an electric motor in sight (apart from the small starter motor). Manufacturers are doing all they can to clean up their engines and to curb the amount of pollutants they pump into the atmosphere every day. High-pressure common rail systems, innovative injectors etc are all doing their bit for more efficient combustion, although these improvements can't change what is, ultimately, the result of an explosion of diesel mixed with air or, in other words, exhaust gases.

At this year's CTI Forum Exhaust Systems, held in Düsseldorf, Germany – EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) are still making strong headway. Dr Axel Friedrich, former head of the German Environments and Traffic department at the Federal Environment Agency, told show delegates that PM (particulate matter) limits are exceeded regularly in many European cities, and despite the development of new technologies, he expects current NO2 limits to be exceeded in a number of cities in 2010. He adds that many places feel that while Brussels has set NO2 limits, it hasn't provided them with the means to reach those limits.

As for global warming, Dr Friedrich says: "To avoid dramatic damage to the climate, the temperature rise has to be limited to a maximum of two degrees celcius compared to the pre-industrial level. To lower the risk of exceeding the limit by more than 30%, reductions of around 50% to 60% until 2050 are necessary. For industrial countries, this means 80% reductions - or from 12 tonnes per person to just two tons per person of carbon emissions per year."

While no exhaust manufacturing company jumped up after the presentation to say they had the solution to the world's pollution problems, they did all present moves towards it. German exhaust specialist Eberspächer showcased its system for reaching future Euro-6 and US EPA 10 emission standards. The system, which was first unveiled at last year's IAA Commercial Vehicle Show in Hannover combines an oxidation catalyst, a particle filter and an SCR catalyst. The manufacturer claims it filters more than 90% of soot particles and nitrogen oxides from exhaust gases. Although the Euro-6 system is not on the market yet, the company has fitted the system to a demonstration vehicle. It currently sells systems upwards of Euro-4 to customers worldwide - around 600,000 per year for various trucks and busses.

Fellow exhibitor Emitec displayed its SCRi Complete System, which was fitted to a Multicar pick-up. This vehicle was chosen because ofthe complicated process of retrofitting exhaust after treatment. Its engine sits behind the cab, which leaves very little room for an exhaust system, especially as the available space under the body is taken up by onboard hydraulic components and the fuel tank. The vehicle's three-litre, four-cylinder Iveco engine usually reaches Euro-4 emissions levels, but Emitec's SCRi system reduces emissions levels to below Euro-5 limits, as well as meeting the EEV standard.

Finally, Daimler has started meddling in micro-hybrids within the CV sector. At last year's IAA Show, it presented the concept Vito Blue EFFICIENCY, which is equipped with an ECO start-stop function. The engine is switched off the moment the vehicle comes to a standstill and is started the moment the driver presses the accelerator. Along with a few aerodynamic improvements, Mercedes claims this system can improve fuel economy by around 1.5l/100km. This year's CTI Forum Exhaust Systems demonstates that technologies designed to curb noxious emissions are on the increase thanks to the best efforts of manufacturers, and, chances are, the truck industry will be at the forefront of efforts to combat climate change.