DAVID SEDGWICK | Automotive News
RICHARD TRUETT | Automotive News
Posted Date: 10/4/05
Anybody can get motor oil or windshield washer fluid at the corner gasoline station. But where do you get urea?
Urea is an ammonialike liquid that is squirted from a canister into diesel exhaust systems. Automakers say it could help eliminate the smog-creating pollutant NOx from diesel emissions.
BMW Group has asked potential suppliers to make urea available to motorists in the United States. If federal regulators approve it, urea could open up the U.S. market for high-volume sales of diesel-powered vehicles.
"A lot of European automakers are pushing it," said Burkhard Goeschel, BMW's board member in charge of product development and purchasing. Urea "could allow us to bring diesels back to the United States."
BMW wants to introduce diesel engines to the U.S. market in 2007 -- most likely in an SUV. But first, BMW must meet strict new U.S. diesel emission standards that take effect in 2007. Those regulations require a diesel to run as cleanly as a gasoline engine.
Urea could help them do that, but automakers have two major problems to solve before the EPA will approve urea. First, urea has to be as readily available as motor oil, windshield washer fluid or any other consumable item that a car uses.
Automakers could sell urea in their dealership service departments. They also want to make it available at auto parts stores, filling stations and quick lube oil change businesses.