Smart choices for smart shoppers

No, this is not a year for breathtaking one-after-another rollouts of all-new trucks. Yes, there are some smokin' hot newcomers arriving for the new model year. But many OEMs, especially on the heavy end, seem to be rather quiet, on the surface anyway. No doubt, though, they are busy deep in their skunkworks, preparing to launch new models in time for the next industry milestone 2010 emissions and

No, this is not a year for breathtaking one-after-another rollouts of all-new trucks. Yes, there are some smokin' hot newcomers arriving for the new model year. But many OEMs, especially on the heavy end, seem to be rather quiet, on the surface anyway. No doubt, though, they are busy deep in their skunkworks, preparing to launch new models in time for the next industry milestone — 2010 emissions — and to meet the pent-up demand that will explode once the nation pulls out of its stubborn economic slump.

Standing out across the board in all weight classes again this year is the upswing in trucks factory-built with diesel-electric hybrid powertrains. There is also greater emphasis on such alternative fuels as natural gas and a growing roster of diesel offerings in light-duty trucks as well. There is a much wider selection of medium-duty hybrids and on the heavy-duty side, make way for both a stunning new highway tractor and a very bold vocational truck.

While OEMs are increasingly responding to the high cost of both diesel and gasoline with new power choices, enhanced aerodynamics and idle-control solutions, they also continue to recognize the critical impact driver comfort and ergonomics as well as safety have on the fleet buying decision.

All in all, any fleet manager ready to buy trucks should find no reason not to find the right model and the right specs for whatever job is at hand.

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