Tuesday, 7 March 2017
When is a new engine a new engine?
Journalists are frequently criticised for highlighting the ‘smoke and mirrors’ marketing departments use to create something new that is not really new at all.
Take for example the recent introduction of Navistar's International A26 truck engine that later this year will appear in LT and RH 'over-the-road' tractor units in the US. The A26 is hailed as a new engine.
Production of the engine is due to begin in April at Navistar International's plant at Huntsville,, Alabama. They will begin appearing in trucks from May onwards.
Jonathan S. Reiskin, associate news editor of Transport Topics, notes in the issue of 6 March that Bill Kozek, Navistar's president of truck and parts, claims the "A26 replaces the N13 engine and is part of the company's three-year turnaround plan and commitment to uptime for fleet operators."
"This is a great time to be at International," Reiskin quotes Kozek."We've been through a lot and we are coming out of it."
So far so good. The problem comes with remarks attributed to Darren Gosbee, vice president of powertrain engineering, who said the engine is the "first fruit of the company's Project Alpha, a rethinking of the company's engine business."
In other words, it is a new engine. But is it? To what extent is it a reincarnation of MAN’s D26 engine?
According to Transport Topics, the name A26 is explained in two parts. The A is for Project Alpha.
Then, according to Transport Topics, the pistons have a diameter of 126mm, almost five inches. In fact, 4.96 inches.
"So the company's marketing department dropped the 1 and added an A in front of the number 26," notes associate news editor Reiskin.
In other words, the marketing department is trying to conjure up the idea that 126 is a new dimension.
But the bore of 126mm is not new at all, however much International's marketing department might like to think it is. The N13 engine also has a bore of 126mm and both engines have compacted graphite iron (CGI) I6 cylinder blocks and swept volume of 12.4 litres.
According to Gosbee, an LT tractor unit powered by the A26 can achieve 9 per cent better fuel economy than a ProStar Plus fitted with an N13 engine. The A26 can deliver up to 1,750 lbft torque and 475 bhp.
According to Transport Topics, the A26 weighs in at 2,299 lb or 55 lb less than the N13, or 650 lb lighter than a 15-litre engine.
Transport Topics notes that International will continue to make the N13 through to the end of this year "and then retire the design in favour of the A26."
Interestingly, according to Transport Topics, Gosbee said that engineers "made more use of aluminium and CGI in the A26."
Gosbee is also reported as saying the engine uses Bosch's common rail fuel injection system which "Navistar's engineers learned about from MAN's use of it in an engine."
The engine has a B10 life of 1.2 million miles.
In the meantime, Navistar has submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency all the necessary paperwork required for certification and is waiting for approval for 2017 emission standards.