Trucks at Work

The year that was

You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” –Master Oogway, from the DreamWorks movie “Kung Fu Panda”

What a year, eh? On the one hand in 2008, we witness some of the greatest global financial and economic turmoil in decades: the collapse Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers; a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street; oil costing a record $147 then plummeting to $35 a barrel; Jevic Transportation and Alvan Motor Freight going out of business with nearly 2,000 other trucking companies.

Yet on the other: the first African American ever elected President of the United States; Michael Phelps surpassing Mark Spitz as the winner of most individual gold medals at Olympic Summer Games; the U.S. bagging the 1,000th gold medal since it started participating in the Olympics, courtesy of the Women’s soccer team. The list goes on.

All in all, 2008 proved one hell of a year from a trucking journalist’s perspective, too. We witnessed the unveiling of 2010 engine platforms designed not only to clean the air but improve fuel economy as well. A spate of new truck models made an appearance despite the hard times, including Mack’s Titan tractor, Navistar’s one-of-a-kind LoneStar tractor, among others. Work on new technology didn’t stop either: for example, ArvinMeritor introduced OnGuard, a system designed to automatically deploy a truck’s brakes if sensors detect stopped traffic ahead. Pretty neat, if you ask me.

[Just for fun, I compiled a short “musical review” of some of the sights I saw in 2008 below.]

Yet so much of the good news – lower highway fatalities due to truck-car collisions being a big noteworthy item – got drowned out by the bad. The closing of Sterling Truck Corp. by its German parent, Daimler AG, proved a sad mark for it came on the heels of new product introductions aimed at returning some luster to the Sterling brand. But the ongoing slump in U.S. truck sales proved too much of a challenge to overcome for Daimler.

Now, however, all of that is behind us. Ahead lies 2009, cloaked in mystery. What shall the New Year bring? Better days, one hopes. Knowing the can-do spirit that drives America, I am certain we’ll attain them.