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TRANSPORTCEO - 23/10/2018

The Volvo emissions problem affects european trucks as well.

Many unknowns about the failure of Volvo engines.

¿It is the lack of total EGR the cause?

Volvo does not explain how the emission detectors also failed.

The announcement, first in the USA, that the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA; had been in talks with Volvo for weeks about a complaint about excessive emissions from its trucks took a turn with the Swedish company's admission that the problem also affects the European market.

In a press release Volvo AB itself said that the problem affects trucks sold in Europe and the U.S., two of the largest markets for Volvo, and that represents a combined two-thirds of its sales per year.

In the U.S. it was reported that it was the (EPA) Environmental Protection Agency that detected the emissions, while in Europe the company in its statement comes to say that they were the ones who detected the problem, without referring at all to the U.S. authorities.

It is unclear whether this problem of excessive emissions was detected by the truck's own diagnostic systems, which are supposed to drastically reduce power when emission limits are exceeded.

Volvo has admitted that the cost of solving the problem can be significant. Volvo has sold 700,000 trucks between Europe and the US since 2014.

Volvo shares fell by 6% immediately, and have fallen by 9% on the Stockholm stock exchange. Curiously, they had been falling since September, which points to the knowledge of some investors ahead of schedule of this problem.

At the same time as Volvo shares fell, those of the British catalyst supplier Johnson Matthey PLC fell, which also fell to 6.6% on the stock market. This company, which supplies 60% of the truck catalysts, has been unwilling to identify Volvo as its customer, and remains silent on the problem.

Volvo has also argued that these excess of nitrous oxides in the exhaust of its trucks did not occur when they left the factory, which is taken for granted.

It remains to be seen which component of the exhaust system has failed, "worn out" in the company's words, and whether the probes and the self-diagnostic and emission control systems have also failed.

Investors are expressing great caution when mixing in this issue all the components of past emissions problems, which had a great impact on the shareholders of affected companies like Volkswagen.

Volvo's largest shareholder, Chinese millionaire Li Shufu has stated that he is not yet able to estimate the number of engines or vehicles that will need to be repaired. Millionaire Li Shufu is also the president of Geely, which owns the Volvo car brand, independent of the truck brand.

The problem is that it is not yet known which components have failed, in how many vehicles, and why it has not been detected. The company points to the wear of the catalyst that with Adblue manages to reduce nitrogen oxides NOx.

It so happens that Volvo did not adopt in Europe the EGR solution of total cold gas recirculation, as did other manufacturers, DAF, MAN, and Mercedes, and opted for an intermediate solution between not using gas recirculation and only relying on Adblue injection, in opposition to the combined solution of total cold gas recirculation plus urea injection in the exhaust. It adopted a partial and much simplier and cheaper, hot EGR which means more NOx output to the catalytic converter, and therefore more work for the catalytic converter.

It would be normal to wear earlier the catalyst and would have to be replaced more often, but this catalyst is made with platinum and is very expensive about 2,000 euros.

However, for the U.S. it developed and sells a 13-liter engine with total EGR and urea injection DC13. It is not known which type of 13-litre block engines used in the US and Europe are affected by the problem, but it seems that both as the US engines are not sold here.

It has always been said that the solution with the highest exhaust gas recirculation, the famous EGR, reduces the level of nitrous oxides at the outlet of the engine, which makes the catalytic converter work better and this could be the cause of the rapid degradation of the catalytic converter, and NOx emissions.

What is not explained is why the exhaust system probes did not immediately detect it and in all cases this malfunction and stopped the trucks.




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