The path forward is not always smooth, and J.D. Power and Associates has said that’s especially true for companies trying to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emissions standards on heavy-duty trucks.
J.D. Power, which provides customer and company market research as well as benchmarking services, said technology changes around these emissions standards have caused an increase in engine problems and a decrease in overall satisfaction with the powertrain. The findings were published in its 2012 U.S. Heavy-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study
The study, now in its sixteenth year, measures satisfaction with engines and transmissions among primary maintainers of heavy-duty (Class 8) trucks that are one model-year old around factors like engine reliability, warranties, acceleration, maintaining speeds, fuel economy, and other metrics.
The study found 46 percent of these owners reported an engine-related problem, up from 42 percent in 2011. The most common problems come from electronic control modules and engine sensors.
The average number of engine- and fuel-related problems has increased to 81 problems per 100 vehicles, up from 71 in 2011. The company said this affected engine satisfaction levels as well.
"At the industry level, the new, more complex engines designed to meet EPA regulations are resulting in additional problems and downtime, which also has a financial impact on owners because they're not making money when their truck is down for service," wrote Brent Gruber, director of the commercial vehicle practice at J.D. Power.
Gruber did note the problem will likely be alleviated as manufacturers have more time to resolve quality issues around new technology. At that point, customers will likely see added benefits from the new engines and these benefits will put the engines in a more positive light. Currently companies are seeing times between service increase by more than 2,000 miles as well as a 4 percent increased fuel efficiency, compared to 2011.
"Despite initial quality issues, the new technology may offer a greater return on investment in the long run," Gruber said. - Geoff Whiting