GE leads Caterpillar in locomotive race

A diesel-powered locomotive. Caterpillar appears unconcerned by GE's lead. 

Diversified conglomerate General Electric Co. (NYSE:GE) is beating Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) in the race to provide railroad locomotives that comply with tougher U.S. emission standards going into effect on January 1.

The Wall Street Journal reported that GE is currently testing freight trains which adhere to the new rules and expects to start manufacturing them in the summer of 2015, but that Caterpillar's Electro-Motive Diesel unit is unlikely to have its own such locomotives ready until 2017.

"We've got units operating so we can demonstrate performance," Tina Donikowski, vice president of GE's locomotive business, was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

The two-year difference clears the way for GE, which holds at least a 60% share of the U.S. locomotive market, to secure an even bigger market share.

But Caterpillar reportedly appears unconcerned, saying that it may have demonstration models ready by next year and that it anticipates companies will delay buying trains with reconfigured engines.

"History indicates that the railroads are slow to adopt new technology until it is fully proven in the field," an unnamed Caterpillar spokeswoman was quoted by the newspaper as saying.