By Paul Watson, UK Commercial Director at Doosan Industrial Vehicles UK Ltd.

As of 1 January 2019, new diesel and LPG powered forklift trucks sold in the European Union will start to have to comply with the world’s toughest emission standards for non-road vehicles: Euro-Stage V. Although the UK is set to exit the EU shortly after its introduction, the standards will almost certainly be adopted here too. 

So what will this mean for those planning their forklift truck fleets? Should buyers be reconsidering their fuel or power options? Possibly, but first there are a number of important considerations to take into account. 

The headline news is that limits on emissions of particulate matter are to be reduced by a further 40 per cent under the new regulations, taking the current Stage IV A limit of 0.025 g/kWh of soot down to 0.015g/kWh across all engine sizes. Carbon monoxide (CO) emissions will be set at 5.0 g/kWh for all engines up to 128kW, and emissions for nitrous oxides (NOx) and hydrocarbons (HC) will remain as currently specified. 

The good news is that the Euro-Stage V standards are much clearer and simpler than the existing tiered arrangement for emission limits. At present, these are staggered across a range of engine power outputs: Stage lll A, for engines of less than 37kW; Stage lll B, for engines between 37kW to 81kW; and Stage IV A, for engine power outputs larger than 81kW.

For buyers of forklift trucks, however, life is about to become more complex. Under Euro-Stage V standards, all IC engine forklift trucks, both diesel and LPG powered vehicles, will have to comply regardless of engine size – including trucks below the current minimum threshold of 37kW.

Emissions of particulate matter will not be a problem for LPG trucks but, in order to eliminate nitrous oxides, a three-way catalytic converter will be necessary. A positive to this is that catalytic converters are relatively inexpensive, require minimal maintenance and do not have to go through the lengthy regeneration processes associated with diesel particulate filters (DPFs).

The biggest impact of these new standards will fall on the diesel engine models. Most diesel forklift trucks currently supplied to the market require DPFs to comply with the present standards. With the introduction of more stringent Euro-Stage V regulations, significantly more advanced DPF cleaning systems and operating regimes will be required by most manufacturers to comply; this will mean longer periods of downtime and more expense for less sophisticated diesel engines.

As the vast majority of forklift makers do not build their own engines, the solution adopted by the industry has been, in general, to adapt ill-suited automotive engines and reduce the amount of NOx by lowering the combustion temperature, using cooled exhaust gas to dilute the amount of oxygen in the combustion chamber. There is a big penalty, however, in that this increases the production of soot, requiring the engine to then have a DPF fitted in order to prevent these emissions.

As those who have purchased a new forklift fitted with a DPF will know, it has to be recharged at regular intervals. This is a lengthy process that, for most users, must be performed once or twice a week. It requires the truck to be taken out of service and the engine to be revved at full engine RPM, for about 20 minutes to half an hour, in order to burn the soot that has collected in the particulate filter. Large amounts of fuel are used in the process and the truck is not available for duty, increasing downtime and significantly affecting productivity. There are then the costs associated with burning extra fuel and associated maintenance issues, and the sheer inconvenience of the lengthy, repetitive process.

At present, however, not all diesel engines need DPFs to comply with the current regulations. There are only a small number of forklift truck manufacturers who have diesel engines on the market that do not require DPFs to comply with the existing Euro-Stage lll B and Stage lV standards. Only a couple of them can offer solutions across the whole range. Doosan has a full range: from two tonne capacity across all diesel powered counterbalance trucks up to 25 tonnes.

Of course, with the new Euro-Stage V regulations coming into force, even these manufacturers will need to further reduce emissions; this will almost certainly require the fitting of DPFs. A significant point, however, is that Doosan only needs to introduce a very small DPF to comply, as the in-house designed G2 engine is already exceptionally clean. In addition, tests on G2 engines at Doosan’s Infracore Engine Division indicate that effective cleaning of the filter takes place whilst the truck is in normal use, similar to a diesel car and eliminating costly downtime. 

Clearly, tightening EU regulations on carbon, nitrogen oxide and particle emissions offer strong indications as to the direction policymakers wish to take. So, as with cars and vans, is the future electric?  

Electric trucks have a lot to offer. In 2016 Doosan launched a range of 48v electric trucks up to two tonnes and in early 2017 an 80v range from 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes was launched. Later in 2018 the five tonne electric series will be revamped and six, seven and eight tonne electric models will be looked at in the near future. Nonetheless, there are plenty of applications where diesel or LPG trucks offer the best solution and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. As you might expect, much depends on the particular demands of the job, the application and the working environment. 

With the introduction of the much stricter Euro-Stage V standards, it makes sense to fully understand the impact these regulations will have on your future forklift truck fleet. Understanding your options at this point may help in planning your fleet purchasing strategy going forward.

As part of the $21bn Doosan engineering conglomerate, the industrial vehicle division is uniquely positioned to tap into the resources and in-house expertise of Doosan Infracore’s Engine Division. Doosan are investing heavily in expanding their range of electric forklift trucks, offering powerful models capable of handling loads once only thought possible using IC engine trucks. If you are looking for advice on how the Euro-Stage V standards might affect your business, Doosan are well positioned to offer you a balanced view.

For more information: www.doosanforklifts.co.uk