By Jami Jones
Every year at the Mid-America Trucking Show press conferences, it’s pretty easy to nail down a general theme no matter whether it’s an OEM delivering the news or an aftermarket supplier.
Rather than tell you that this year’s theme is something cliché like “Going Green,” I’d prefer to say that equipment manufacturers are obviously working hard to meet the demands of truckers who are sick and tired of the stranglehold that fuel prices and emission standards have on them.
But the highlight of the three-day press conference marathon was the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement. The government agency has stepped up to the plate and recognized that the pressures of fuel prices and emission regulations have put owner-operators at a significant disadvantage to mega fleets.
The agency rolled out a new Web site, SmartWayFinanceCenter.org, designed to help small-business truckers find financing for fuel-saving equipment and products. You can read more about the SmartWay program and the equipment and products available through it on Page 76.
Webasto really knocked one out of the park in my book when they first did a great job of entertaining the press during a period of technical difficulties and then rolled out one heck of a Web site.
MakeALeap.org is a one-stop site for any trucker wanting to know all things anti-idling about the areas you’re hauling into. There is also news about cities, counties and states considering anti-idling regs.
And the best thing is, it’s free. Webasto gets a big thumbs up for stepping up and making life easier for truckers.
Many of the OEMs and after-market suppliers touted commitments to everything from aerodynamics to key-off power options. And on the innovative, forward-looking front, Paccar siblings Peterbilt and Kenworth both showcased their medium-duty hybrid offerings and talked about the technology’s future in the heavy-duty market.
With fuel economy on the forefront of everyone’s minds, some OEMs seized the opportunity to talk about their 2010 emission standards compliant engines. For those who recall engine makers claiming their technology was best suited to meet the 10/02 standards, the cussin’ and discussin’ of the technologies being developed to meet the 2010 standards will feel very familiar.
Daimler and Navistar were the first two to take the gloves off and take potshots at the other’s chosen 2010-engine technology. Daimler’s engine lineup will be developed using selective catalytic reduction or SCR technology. Navistar won’t be using SCR; instead, company officials said they plan to meet the new standard through an advanced fuel system, air management, combustion and controls.
Both companies claim there are flaws in the other’s technology. Looks as if it’s going to be another round of wait and see who’s right.
For the record, in January Freightliner LLC became Daimler Trucks North America. DTNA includes all the company’s nameplates, including Detroit Diesel, Freightliner Trucks, Freightliner Custom Chassis, Mercedes-Benz engines and transmissions, Sterling Trucks, Thomas Built Buses, and Western Star Trucks.
What would Mid-America be without new trucks? This year’s show boasted a couple of new models introduced to the market.
Navistar’s new International LoneStar, unveiled at the Chicago Auto Show earlier this year and to the trucking industry at MATS, lived up to its billing and drew huge crowds. While its appearance is unique, company officials touted its aerodynamics – claiming it to be 5 percent to 15 percent more fuel efficient than traditional long-nose classic trucks. The LoneStar is scheduled to be available this fall in daycab, sleeper and Aero Sleeper configurations.
The most creative unveiling of a new truck goes to Mack Trucks, which had Bruce Buffer, the voice of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, introduce the Mack Titan. In typical UFC Octagon fashion, Buffer’s voice boomed out the specs of the truck to the press and show attendees. The truck, designed for heavy transport and heavy construction applications, is powered by the Mack MP10 engine, a 16-liter engine with a top rating of 605 horsepower. It was billed as the “new heavyweight champion of the trucking industry.”
Western Star didn’t unveil a new truck, but did unveil a big new look for the 4900 EX. The truck, “Ramblin’ Rose,” was tricked out by Outlaw Customs and was on display at the show. Outlaw Customs is “the next big thing in truck customization” according to Western Star officials.
A smattering of new products and updates to existing products were announced through the press conferences.
Espar rolled out a trio of heater options with in-frame and on-frame versions of the Hybernator and a Baire Necessity System. The systems are designed to meet the heating and starting needs with a mix of installation options.
Air-Weigh unveiled a new, affordably priced member to its family of on-board scale systems. Up to four axle groups can be monitored by the QuickLoad Scale on the in-dash display, and the scale automatically calculates gross vehicle weight and net payload. The system is sold in components with sensors and displays sold separately. A package for a dedicated tractor-trailer runs just over $500.
Gone are the days of LED lights with 10, 20 or 30 diodes. Grote Industries rolled out the SuperNova LED single diode back-up lamp at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
The SuperNova line boasts a wide variety of offerings, but the showcased new product at MATS was the back-up lamp with a single diode.
OK, the press conferences are big events at MATS, but there’s much more happening if you’re willing to put on your walking shoes. More than 1,000 exhibitors showcased their wares. In this issue, Senior Technical Editor Paul Abelson reports on highlights from the floor.
Plus, watch for more MATS-related news in upcoming issues. LL