The United States and European Union (EU) are implementing significant regulations that mandate nonroad equipment with the lowest emissions in history. Canada and Japan are expected to release similar regulatory programs this year. These regulations, which are known as U.S. Tier 4/EU Stage IIIB/IV, will result in nonroad equipment approaching near-zero emissions of particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen.

Transition to these standards is challenging for nonroad- equipment manufacturers. For some of the larger equipment manufacturers, this means hundreds of complex products with unique and challenging application spectrums must be re-engineered to accommodate the lower emitting engines being developed to meet these standards.

Regulators recognize the challenge and the difficulty nonroad-equipment manufacturers would face if they had to introduce all of their new lower emitting products on one particular date. To address these transitional challenges, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allowed for implementation of the upcoming emission standards in two phases: Tier 4 Interim and Tier 4 Final. Tier 4 Interim is effective Jan. 1, 2011, for 130–560 kilowatt (kW) nonroad engines and Jan. 1, 2012, for 56–130 kW nonroad engines. Tier 4 Final emission standards apply after the 2014 model year. The EU’s Stage IIIB and Stage IV emissions levels and regulatory dates are essentially the same as EPA’s.

In addition, under its Transition Program for Equipment Manufacturers, which is commonly known as the “flex” program, the EPA also allows equipment manufacturers to continue to introduce equipment powered with engines meeting prior tier emission requirements for a certain limited percentage of their overall production volumes during the Tier 4 time frame. The EU also has a flex transition program, as well as a unique “sell off” program, both of which allow equipment manufacturers to continue selling prior tier machines in order to allow for a smooth transition to the more stringent EU emission standards. These transitional programs are calculated into the environmental benefits regulators forecast when developing these programs.