It’s not the wholesale switch from Cummins to Fiat Powertrain Technologies (FPT) engines that has muted the characteristic exhaust bark of the latest Case IH and New Holland high-horsepower tractors, but rather the big air box that the gases now pass through.

Inside, a catalyst and a squirt of urea solution neutralize nitrogen oxides (NOx) so that gases emerging from the muffler are clean enough to meet EPA Tier IV Interim emissions requirements that become effective in January 2011.

Engineers at FPT’s North American R&D center in Burr Ridge, Ill., less than 2 hours from CNH’s Racine,Wis., tractor factory, have been instrumental in developing the 8.7- liter and 12.9-liter C-series (formerly Cursor) engines for CNH’s 2011 model year tractors and harvesters.

They appear to be winning the war on the often-conflicting requirements of performance, fuel economy and emissions control at least as well as their competitors, if not better in some respects.

For example, FPT claims 95% NOx conversion vs. a norm of 80-85% with its Tier IV Interim selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology, mainly thanks to advanced control systems.

Moreover, FPT says its system is capable of meeting full Tier IV compliance without resorting to exhaust gas recirculation (EGR). Even if light EGR is required to further reduce operating costs, a passive regeneration filter with no need to increase or modify vehicle-cooling systems will control particulate matter.

Fuel Efficient. As it is, the 2011- spec SCR-equipped N- and C-series FPT engines used in next year’s crop of CNH new equipment reportedly will deliver a 5-15% reduction in specific fuel consumption compared with the previous units, with service intervals extended to 600 hours.

Looking further down the road, FPT is confident of successfully transferring its award-winning MultiAir electrohydraulic intake valve management system to its heavy diesels. On auto engines, MultiAir has resulted in 10% more power and 15% more torque at low revolutions, as well as a 10% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Fiat Industrial. All of which makes a strong case for CNH adopting FPT engines for its high-horse- power models and bringing to an end the long-running relationship with Cummins. However, there are also commercial considerations, not the least of which is that CNH and FPT are part of the Fiat Group.

Last year, CNH Global spent $4.5 million purchasing 67,000 smaller 4- and 6-cylinder off-highway diesels from FPT for its farm and construction machines. Adopting the C-series for the Case IH Magnum and Steiger tractors and for equivalent New Holland T8 and T9 tractors means it will also buy plenty of bigger ticket motors in the future.

CNH and its exclusive engine supplier also will be more closely linked once FPT’s Industrial & Marine product line has been transferred along with CNH to the new Fiat Industrial business, which is due to go live at the turn of the new year. This new entity, which Fiat Group shareholders recently approved, is being created to give CNH and the Iveco truck and bus operations independence from the group’s automobile business.

“There is no longer any reason to keep together sectors that operate with such diverse financial and industrial logic; the concept of a conglomerate is outdated and no longer serves any useful purpose,” says Fiat chairman & CEO, Sergio Marchionne. “With the new structure, the constituents of Fiat Industrial SpA will have complete freedom of movement to make the best strategic choices, including potential alliances.”

Source: Ag Equipment Intelligence, October 2010