Jun 4, 2012 by Scott Garvey

Regulating new technologies

Standards limiting engine emissions is
something farmers all across Canada have been hearing a lot about
over the last few years. Off-road diesel engines, like those powering
farm equipment, have had to meet increasingly stringent limits
recently. But initially developing those tough, new regulations was
primarily the result of forward-looking efforts in Europe and the
U.S., not Canada. For some other vehicle sectors and technologies,
though, that’s about to change.

On May 28th, The
Honourable Denis Lebel, minister of transport, infrastructure and
communities announced funding for an expanded version of the
government’s existing ecoTECHNOLOGY testing program for vehicles.
This program has been used to measure the performance of some
emerging, light-duty automotive technologies; but now it will be
expanded to include systems on heavy trucks as well, although no
mention was made of off-road equipment.

“This
program will assess the safety and environmental performance of new
vehicle technologies to ensure that innovations can be introduced in
Canada in a safe and timely manner,” said Lebel at an Ottawa press
conference.

Thumbnail image for IMG-20120528-00289.jpg

The
Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and
Communities along with other officials look at a hybrid car after the
announcement of additional funding for testing new vehicle
technologies in Ottawa. Trans. Can. photo.

A
release issued in conjunction with that press conference described
the program this way: “The ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles Program is a
five-year, $38-million program that will proactively test advanced
vehicle technologies to develop safety and environmental regulations,
as well as industry codes and standards… The Clean Transportation
Initiatives focus on aligning Canadian regulations with those in the
United States and with international standards, improving the
efficiency of the transportation system and advancing clean
technologies.”

Bringing
Canadian regulations up to speed to match the rest of the world is
certainly a good idea; and with respect to technologies affecting
off-road equipment, it’s long overdue.

When
the deadline for transition from Tier III to Interim Tier IV (IT4)
emissions limits for farm diesels came and went in the U.S. and E.U.,
Transport Canada regulations beyond Tier III had still not been
established. Even though Canada eventually matched the early Tier II
and III standards, the process for setting new standards was barely
getting started when manufacturers were already making the IT4
transition to meet regulations elsewhere.

When
I spoke to executives at some of the major farm equipment brands in
2011, they expressed a little uneasiness over the uncertainty in
future Canadian off-road emissions regulations. Although, they were
relatively confident Canada would adopt the same IT4 standard. But
the lack of timely implementation of updated regulations here
shouldn’t have happened.

In
the end, despite any conclusions that come out of the expanded
ecoTECHNOLOGY program, we will have to coordinate with other nations
when it comes to setting standards for vehicle systems. We’re too
small a market to go our own way.

That’s
especially true in the ag sector. As the major bands ramped up to
meet the U.S. and E.U. IT4 engine emissions deadline, they were
already sending us tractors, combines and sprayers with that
technology whether we wanted them or not. That’s because the bulk of
the global market demanded them. It didn’t make financial sense for
manufacturers to look at us differently.

When
I spoke with one executive from a major brand about Canada’s lack of
updated emissions standards last year, he made that point clear.
“We’re not going to start a separate production line for Canadian
tractors,” he said.

Scott

Scott Garvey

Scott Garvey


Grainews' machinery editor Scott Garvey follows trends and innovation in equipment technology, takes a look at new farm machinery offerings, tracks their performance and goes into the workshop to find better ways to keep them up and running.


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