To address concerns that COVID-19 will remain a significant threat into the fall, the National Truck Equipment Association’s September meeting, the Truck Product Conference, will be attended virtually.
This means attendees won't have to deal with layovers or long lines, needing simply to find a smart device or computer to access the learning opportunities. On the downside, fleet representatives will not be able to touch the trucks or dive into specific vehicle details with product managers over hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.
The commercial vehicle event is usually held in Detroit and serves as a launching pad for several OEMs’ latest models of light- and medium-duty pickup trucks and vans, with exhibitors ranging from the Motor City’s Big Three — Ford, General Motors, and FCA (specifically Ram Commercial) — to work truck makers Freightliner, Navistar and Isuzu. The show has also been used to present vehicle updates and critical upfitter modifications.
More details on the exact date(s), participating OEMs and a complete event schedule will emerge in the coming weeks on how the virtual incarnation will look. Navigating a web page with a mouse cannot compare to several hours of in-person lectures and booth visits can replace, but the NTEA hopes the digital attendees will walk away with similar knowledge imparted.
“While this year’s conference may look a little different, we’re excited to offer the commercial vehicle community the same valuable information in a virtual forum that facilitates information sharing, including live Q&A with chassis OEMs,” said Steve Carey, NTEA president and CEO.
Attendees for the 2020 event will still :
- Learn potential upfitting challenges and solutions
- Hear critical upfitter modifcations
- Understand OEMs' positions on technical challenges
- Find body builder resources
- Be able to participate in a live Q&A with chassis OEMs
Whether this event turns into a model for all future launches or serves as a footnote in the industry’s history, the NTEA is still planning it’s larger late winter event, The Work Truck Show, to be held in-person.
“Although a significant amount of uncertainty remains for business operations, NTEA is proceeding with planning for next year’s Work Truck Show,” Carey said. “The event will take place as scheduled — March 9 to 12, 2021, in Indianapolis — unless the health crisis, along with government restrictions, would not permit Work Truck Week to be produced.”