The five nominees for the American Truck Dealers/Heavy Duty Trucking Truck Dealer of the Year report that new engines meeting the 2010 emissions standards so far seem to be causing fewer problems than their 2002/04 and 2007 counterparts, and that support from the manufacturer is significantly improved.

"Customer reaction has generally been very good - much different from the 2007 change, which was really bad," says Craig Young, president of Young Truck Sales and Young Volvo in Canton, Ohio, who sells Freightliner, Isuzu and Volvo trucks. "I think every 2004 engine we sold in all three brands has been overhauled under warranty," he says, citing problems with EGR valves, turbochargers, injectors, and too many repeat failures. In contrast, he says, "We've been very bullish on the SCR engines."

Eric Jorgensen, president and CEO of JX Enterprises in the Milwaukee area, who sells Peterbilt and Volvo, says while the new 2010 engines are performing well fuel-economy wise, when it comes to the new aftertreatment system, there are "plenty of sensor issues and things going on with the new SCR technology." Some engines, he said, are working quite well. Others have some challenges, and he's seeing a notable number of engines with repetitive failures. "It's not really an across the board issue."

He does report that the manufacturers are very responsive. "They're doing some things I haven't seen done before in terms of support."

Dick Ryan, president and CEO of Carolina International Trucks in Columbia, S.C., says most of the issues he's seen with the new MaxxForce engines are simple programming issues that can be corrected quickly with upgrades.

Ryan also commented on the importance of giving customers driver training on the new engines. Although Navistar's new MaxxForce engines do not use selective catalytic reduction to meet 2010 emissions limits, he says, they nevertheless do operate a little differently from the previous engines.

The peak torque of the MaxxForce 13 is around 1,000 rpm, he says, compared to more traditional 1,300 to 1,500, so less shifting is involved. "One fleet was getting very poor fuel economy, and we went in and trained their drivers, and suddenly their fuel economy went up to where it should be," he says.

Erick Miner, president of CIT Group, Normal, Ill., who sells Isuzu, Kenworth and Volvo, says results so far have been positive with the new engines when it comes to fuel mileage. "We're pretty confident that the fuel mileage gains are going to more than offset the initial cost of the new technology over the life of the unit," he says. "But we continue to be concerned with the continued EPA mandates on emissions. We're not afraid of the SCR technology, but with some more emissions standards coming in 2014 and 2017, we start to question, at what point does the cost outweigh the benefit?"

Dick Ryan also brought up the cost issue. "We've had three emissions changes in the last five years, and it's added 30 percent to the cost of the vehicle," he says. "I think the government has been a little too aggressive. Yes, we need better emissions, but we need emissions staged in over a period of time where the customer can afford the change."

(Read more about the Dealer of the Year nominees' thoughts on key industry issues in the May issue of Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.)