What’s driving Daimler Truck?

Assessing the impacts of Euro 7 and decarbonisation on truck technology and future lubrication requirements

The upcoming Euro 7 emissions regulations and stringent CO2 reduction targets will have wide reaching impacts on the options for future European truck and bus drivetrain and aftertreatment systems. Peter Schick and Gilles Fedacou from Daimler Truck AG, talk to Infineum Industry Liaison Advisor, Darius Malicki, about recent changes to the Daimler Truck lubricant specification system, heavy-duty technology trends, and likely future performance requirements for tomorrow’s lubricants.

Daimler Truck AG (DTAG) is one of the largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, employing over 100,000 people at more than 40 locations across the globe. Founded over 125 years ago, its global network develops and produces trucks and buses, including some of the world’s most iconic brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Western Star, FUSO, and BharatBenz. Today it provides the technologies, products and services so its customers can enable people to be mobile and get goods to their destinations reliably, on time and safely. This also applies to the transformation to CO2-neutral driving.

Daimler Truck Fluid Release System

Following the spin-off of DTAG from Daimler AG, there has been a need to separate the lubricant specifications of DTAG from those of Mercedes-Benz AG, and in February 2023 the new DTAG Daimler Truck Fluid Release (DTFR) System opened for all new applications. As Peter says, this has involved a considerable amount of change. “The MB claims have been there since 1949, and we know it is important with a new claim to make sure everyone knows what is going on. We are currently in the migration phase, where we are moving from the old MB claims towards the new DTFR claims.”

The migration of products is expected to be almost complete by April 2024 and by November 2024 all labels must use the new nomenclature.
Peter Schick, DTAG

Feedback from companies is still being taken, but over 90% of the product migrations were expected to be complete by the end of March. While there is no change to the technical content, it is important to understand what DTAG requires and by when. One of the key changes in the new DTFR specification is this nomenclature migration – moving from the familiar MB system to the new DTFR xxA/B/C/Dxxx, which is now the DTAG seal of approval for fluids.

“We also wanted the system to take care of new fluids being implemented for battery electric and fuel cell vehicles,” Gilles explains. “So we tried to make the nomenclature future proof and have created it in a way that ensures that for the next hundred years we will have enough specification possibilities in this system. The first two numbers are about the fluid itself with engine oils for example starting with 15 and coolants with 29."

We really wanted to be able to easily distinguish between the different fluid types and also leave room to include other new fluid types.Gilles Fedacou, DTAG

These nomenclature changes impact both product labels and the information stored on the operating fluids BeVo website. DTAG will keep the overview of how old nomenclature relates to new nomenclature up to date on its website – click here to view.

The DTFR system is already working smoothly, and we were keen to find out if it will roll out globally to other DTAG OEM partners in the future. “It's a very good question”, Peter continues, “and one we are talking about with our partners right now and it’s clear we need to treat each market separately. We can confirm Detroit Diesel will be integrated into DTFR, but whether they will use their own nomenclature or merge into our DTFR nomenclature is not yet clear. In addition, our Freightliner colleagues are also looking into the possibilities of using DTFR.”  

Lubricant specifications

With tough new emissions legislation ahead we asked Peter and Gilles their thoughts on how DTAG views lubricant specification development over the coming years.

“Legislation is driving our developments,” Gilles explains. “We have to meet demands for better fuel economy, which clearly impacts the lubricant used in the engine. So it's not only about robustness, although of course it is a very important focus. But, fuel economy is one of the challenges we have to tackle and this will be one of the drivers for a new specification on the European side. It’s clear we'll have to move forward - we cannot keep the world as it is today.”

One area of interest is the potential harmonisation of specifications between North America and Europe. As Gilles continues this topic has been under some consideration. “It's always been our goal to harmonise as well as possible. And now we have an opportunity to do it and we are quite sure we'll get one global oil being applicable for both regions. We have PC-12 constraints to be considered and we'll have to take care of European fluid demands. Aligning with our colleagues on the American continent is of very high importance to us because we can rely on much more testing aggregates and at the end it's a win-win situation for us to get one product specified for use in both regions.”

Focussing for a moment on Europe, as ACEA Heavy-duty Diesel Chairman, Peter suggests DTAG could bring forward new ideas.

As a market leader in Europe it is important for us to bring some key aspects from the DTAG test hardware perspective to the ACEA specification developments.
Peter Schick, DTAG

"In the past," Peter continues, "the OM501LA was a strong engine test across all European OEMs and now we would like to bring the OM471 engine test to the same position. Right now the OM471 is in place for the E8 and E4 categories of the ACEA sequences and we would like to extend this towards E7 and E11 and to bring in some more tests. While it depends on ACEA needs, we are willing to open the OM471, not only for the piston cleanliness test but also for other parameters as we have for our own internal testing. In addition, we could offer other in-house tests to ACEA and we would like to bring in a fuel economy/low viscosity specification. Also there are some tests in the ACEA Sequences that will phase out soon, for example the Mack T-12, Mack T-8, which need replacements. So there is a lot of work ahead of us but it's good to be able to help OEMs within ACEA and offer them our technology to validate their engines.” 

Decarbonisation technology options

In January the European Parliament and Council agreed on a provisional political agreement strengthening CO2 emissions standards for new heavy-duty vehicles entering the EU market from 2030. The agreement sets CO2 emissions reduction targets of 45% for 2030-2034, 65% for 2035-2039 and 90% as of 2040, compared to 2019 levels. The scope of the Regulation has been expanded and these standards will now apply to almost all trucks, buses, and trailers.

As the industry turns its attention to meeting these decarbonisation targets, and with ambitions to reach net zero in the coming decades, the focus is turning to new technologies and alternative fuels. We wanted to understand their thoughts on how these new requirements might be met.

Peter picks up the discussion, “I would like to quote our DTAG Head of Technology who says:"

We need an equation of three things. We need the product, the infrastructure and we need to have cost parity. If one of those is not given then a new technology will not come into place.

"Since 2017 battery electric vehicles (BEV) have been available and every year there are more products coming to the market. So from our point of view, the job on BEVs is done, now it's up to the European Union to provide the infrastructure and cost parity. When it comes to hydrogen, I think it's the same thing. We will provide the fuel cell vehicles, but the European Union needs to provide the other two elements. The customer can then decide if they would like to have a BEV, a hydrogen fuel cell or a diesel engine.”

Hydrogen internal combustion engine

In addition, another technology – the hydrogen internal combustion engine (H2ICE) - is already being tested by Mercedes-Benz Special Trucks in real operation in a Unimog implement carrier prototype. We asked if this technology could be another option for the decarbonisation of DTAG’s drivetrain portfolio?

“This H2ICE technology is something which will come to the market in the second phase of this decade,” Peter explains. “Right now for some customers it may make more sense to have a hydrogen ICE since the hardware is much cheaper currently than the battery electric vehicle truck options.”

“But, it is not a competition between these technologies,” Gilles confirms. “It's something we would like to implement in order to enable Daimler Truck to have the right stance for the future. We think H2ICE could also be a very valuable powertrain for long-haul applications."

In the end, the customer will decide what is the right powertrain to implement in their truck, our task is to make sure all the options are available.
Gilles Fedacou, DTAG

"Different OEMs are working on infrastructure, charging stations and hydrogen refilling because currently the number of electric trucks being sold does not match the politicians’ expectations and something needs to be done in order to get this moving ahead for the future.”

Peter recognises the uncertainty. “Although we don't know what the market will look like in 2030, 2035 or 2040 in my view it's not good to force the customer or to force the market to a specific technology. I think we should be open-minded and that's why we, as an OEM, should provide the products and then the customer should decide on what they would like to buy while the infrastructure and cost parity side needs to be done by the politicians.”

Preparing for Euro 7

With the new Euro 7 emissions regulations now agreed, we asked Gilles what he sees as the biggest challenges and how Daimler Truck is preparing for the Euro 7 targets.

“We know aftertreatment systems will be very different from what we have today and there are some very demanding aspects in terms of useful lifetime and onboard monitoring."

We must be finished with the development work three years before implementation, which is expected in 2029, and so everything must be decided and written in stone no later than 2026.
Gilles Fedacou, DTAG

“And now,” he continues, “we need to not only consider the engine but also how the aftertreatment system will be integrated, which impacts the way we develop the engine. We have to look at the expectations for the aftertreatment system and modify the way we operate the engine itself in order to, for example, get warm conditions for catalysts or for diesel particulate filter (DPF) cleaning. And this could also have an impact on the lubricant or on the engine components. It is the way we have to think now - not only focussing on the engine but also taking care of the entire system.” 

Even though Gilles sees the future fuel economy requirements as a challenge he also believes it is their task to make them possible. “Everything to do with the engine is under our control and it is always surprising to see, although we all think that the diesel engine is optimised, there is still room for improvement. It's incredible and it's about design changes within some components or the setting of thermodynamic parameters and at the end, we all are surprised to see how it is doable. Clearly the lubricant is part of the fuel economy journey and that's why we think a new specification will come.”

Euro 7 lubricant requirements

With these changes in mind we asked Gilles what he thinks the main changes or demands will be in the future for the lubricant and how the lubricant might help with the targets in Euro 7? 

“Robustness is always something we need from the lubricant,” he confirms. “Anything that helps us to avoid any deposition, for example within the turbocharger, will be very valuable. Thinking about the design of our engine, wear protection of the piston, piston rings and liner, as always is very important even though everything will look different from what we currently use. Ideally the oil should also be able to deliver fuel economy over extended periods.”

Peter builds on Gilles comments. “In the past the engine oil was there to lubricate the engine, to cool the engine, to keep everything clean and to keep wear at a low level. I think this is set forever."

Now the engine oil has one more task - to provide fuel economy, which is part of the homologation of the complete vehicle. I think this is a really big task for future engine oils.
Peter Schick, DTAG

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