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The big topic of conversation at this year's Mid-America Trucking Show was next year. Whether it was truck manufacturers, component makers, petroleum companies, fleets or even drivers, those on the show floor were all casting a wary glance at 2007 and the introduction of diesel engines and trucks designed to meet the new, and much stricter, federal emissions requirements. Although the transition to

The big topic of conversation at this year's Mid-America Trucking Show was next year. Whether it was truck manufacturers, component makers, petroleum companies, fleets or even drivers, those on the show floor were all casting a wary glance at 2007 and the introduction of diesel engines and trucks designed to meet the new, and much stricter, federal emissions requirements.

Although the transition to lower-emissions diesels next year has been long anticipated, many of the more important details about initial cost, engine availability, operating characteristics, lubrication specs and fuel availability found their first public airing at the Louisville industry gathering.

For example, truck price increases related to the new emissions technology came into sharper focus as two more OEMs announced expected ranges for higher prices.

Peterbilt Motors said emissions-related changes will add $6,000 to $9,000 to the base price of its Class 8 models and $2,000 to $4,000 for medium-duty products. And Freightliner LLC used MATS to announce similar 2007 increases for trucks with either Detroit Diesel or Mercedes-Benz engines — $7,000 to $10,000 for heavy-duty models and $4,500 to $6,000 for medium-duty.

With International and Volvo Trucks North America having released comparable increase expectations earlier this year, fleet executives walking the show had a pretty clear idea just how much more they can expect to pay for the 2007 models sprinkled around the show floor. The question being asked by the truck builders, and their suppliers, was, how many of those fleets are going to be willing to pay those prices next year?

The push to buy new trucks ahead of the 2007 switch is expected to drive Class 8 sales in North America to near record levels this year, probably topping 310,000 units as manufacturers reach maximum production rates. Speculation at MATS revolved around just how far those sales numbers will then drop come January, with estimates ranging from 30% to 45%. The problem facing truck and component manufacturers is how to satisfy this year's peak demand and then make a rapid transition as sales plunge rapidly.

On the positive side, many at the show believe the downturn will be short since freight volumes remain high, as do rates and fleet profits. A number of OEM chief executives expressed the belief that the need to haul that profitable freight, as well as the need to attract drivers, will bring fleet buyers back to the market by mid-2007 or 2008 at the latest.

The display booths for the diesel engine makers and for truck manufacturers with their own proprietary engines all centered around 2007 models, showing how each has chosen to integrate the new technology needed to meet federal emissions standards.

For many show-goers, the biggest surprise was how similar the engines look to current models and how neatly engineers have packaged the additional technology. At most, hoods will need to be raised a bit on heavy-duty trucks to accommodate some of the engines.

The one major visible change for 2007 is the addition of diesel particulate filters (DPFs). With many fleets seeing those units for the first time, suppliers began the education process about the differences between “active” and “passive” versions, as well as cleaning processes and the need to use both the new ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) and reformulated oils.

Now that the American Petroleum Institute (API) has finalized specifications for the 2007 engine oil and officially designated it as CJ-4, lubrication manufacturers used the Mid-America venue to begin introducing their versions of the new oils.

A necessary component in running the cleaner diesels successfully, the new oils unveiled at the show all promised backward-compatibility for use in older engines. Prices, while predicted to be higher, were not introduced at the show and should be released by most suppliers sometime this summer.

While 2007 emissions generated much of the conversation at Mid-America this year, it wasn't the only topic. Suppliers are already looking ahead to the next round of diesel emissions cuts in 2010, and many at the show expressed support for moving to a new technology called selective catalytic reduction (SCR) as the best way to meet those requirements.

Already used in Europe and Japan, SCR promises to return fuel economy lost to recent emissions efforts. However, it also requires storing urea onboard a truck and periodically refilling that tank, which has caused opposition to SCR from the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, the technology received open support during various press events at MATS from many of the truck manufacturers, especially those with parent companies in Europe already committed to SCR.

One other emissions-related topic of high interest at this year's Louisville truck show was hybrid technology. Various permutations of diesel/electric hybrid systems were on view for trucks of all sizes, not just the mid-range models displayed in previous years. Combined with the cost of new diesel emissions systems, the rapidly escalating price for diesel has apparently revived interest in the concept from both suppliers and truck users.


Despite concerns about 2007 and future emissions-related developments, the overall mood at Mid-America this year was actually quite positive. Solid freight rates and a string of profitable quarters for most carriers are clearly floating all boats at the moment. Truck makers talked of new models on the way, suppliers introduced a slew of new products and technologies, and fleets were out in large numbers kicking tires and taking notes.

Perhaps the best indication of just how good conditions are for for-hire carriers was the entire wing devoted to driver recruitment. With most unable to extend operations for lack of drivers, over 125 fleets set up booths trying to woo CDL holders from their competition.

Whether you consider the 80,000 people who attended, the 1,144 companies that filled 1.2-million sq. ft. of exhibition space, or the overall high-energy level at the Kentucky Fairgrounds in Louisville, the 35th edition of the Mid-America Trucking Show offered a vivid reminder of just how vibrant the trucking industry is these days and how it continues to underpin the country's strong economic climate.


New Petes aplenty

Declaring it the upshot of the largest product development investment in its history, Peterbilt Motors Co. rolled out an all-new vehicle lineup at Mid-America. The new trucks are aimed at buyers of aerodynamic, traditional, vocational and medium-duty trucks.

“Our new lineup of premium trucks represents the best new products Peterbilt has ever offered, setting new standards for quality, innovation, technology, versatility and styling,” said Dan Sobic, Peterbilt gm & Paccar vp. “It is the result of a record level of investment and provides our customers with unparalleled product breadth to serve their full range of business requirements.”

And here are the new Petes:

  • The aerodynamically styled Model 384 and Model 387 day cab, which join the Model 387 and Model 386 to complete the OEM's “aero” lineup.

  • The traditionally styled Model 389 and Model 388.

  • The Model 367 and Model 365 for vocational applications.

  • The Model 340 and Model 330, which join the Model 335 to complete the OEM's medium-duty range.

The new Class 8s will be available in early 2007 and the new medium-duties will come to market this summer.

According to Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer, the Model 387 day cab is “ideal for tanker and regional-haul applications where aerodynamic performance and a spacious, comfortable operator environment are preferred.” It will come in both a medium-length and a long-length BBC, and boasts optimized front-axle placement for exceptional maneuverability and weight distribution. Its sloped hood, large windshield and 1,200-sq.-in. rear window enhance visibility.

Sproull said the Model 384 can be configured as a day cab or with the full range of detachable Peterbilt Unibilt sleepers, like the Model 386. A mid-length truck, the Model 384 has a 116-in. BBC and set-back front axle for exceptional maneuverability in vocational and urban operation and is lightweight for increased payloads in weight-sensitive applications, he noted.

Peterbilt's new traditional truck models — the Model 389 and Model 388 — feature improved aerodynamic performance, styling, durability, serviceability and forward lighting. They boast all-new durable aluminum hoods, a new one-piece aluminum surround with a punched-oval pattern grille and polished aluminum grille bars, polished-aluminum fender reinforcements, innovative headlamps, aero-style mirrors and a new aerodynamic hood ornament.

The new Model 367 and Model 365 for vocational applications feature hoods made from a durable composite material, and a new one-piece aluminum crown and stainless steel grille provide impact-resistant performance and distinctive styling. The hoods also have a proprietary anti-blow-down locking mechanism that keeps them in an open position to prevent unintentional closing; they open a full 90 degrees to facilitate engine service access.

The new lightweight Model 330 is a Class 6 configuration that is available with GVW ratings up to 26,000 lb. It can be equipped with hydraulic brakes and low-profile tires to allow for operation by a non-CDL driver. “For customers that can utilize Class 6 vehicles in their operations, the Model 330 will help open up a wider pool of potential operators,” Sproull said.

On the other end of the medium-duty scale, the new Model 340 is available in 33,000 lb. and up GVW ratings and is aimed at vocational, municipal and specialty applications.

According to Sobic, the Class 7 Model 335 will remain the “best model for the majority of Class 7 applications, such as van body and beverage distribution.” He noted that Peterbilt will also be dropping the Model 378 and the 112-in.-BBC Model 385, and that the Model 379 is being replaced by the Model 389 and 388.


ProStar steps out

International Truck & Engine Corp. has officially unveiled the ProStar Class 8 tractor line, which will replace the 9400 next year and the 9200 in 2008.

According to Dee Kapur, president of International's truck group, the ProStar is the result of five years and $300 million worth of development work. It's a completely new Class 8 tractor platform designed in part to help offset expected fuel economy losses due to the emissions control technology required for all new heavy trucks starting Jan. 1, 2007.

“We focused on creating a completely integrated truck — from the aerodynamics to the transmission and even tires — to compensate for the fuel economy losses predicted for ‘07 engine and aftertreatment systems,” Ed Melching, director of International's heavy truck development center, told Fleet Owner.

“Altogether, the aerodynamic changes we've made with the ProStar design improve fuel economy 4% to 4.5% compared to our previous tractor models,” he explained. “That more than offsets the 1% to 3% fuel economy loss projected for ‘07 trucks…in fact, returning customers to pre-'02 fuel economy levels.”

Tom Baughman, vp & gm for International's heavy truck group, said the new tractor is going to come in four model designations — the ProStar, ProStar Premium, ProStar Eagle, and ProStar Limited — that incorporate the same functionality in terms of chassis, axle, transmission and engine options, but offer successively more luxurious interior and exterior trim packages.

“We designed the ProStar with four key elements in mind,” he said. “The first is uptime. We've conducted 6-million miles of testing on this truck in the lab, on test tracks and with customers and believe it offers superior reliability and durability. We also focused on driver comfort and ergonomics, based on 2,000 distinct driver profiles, male and female.”

The third element is serviceability. “Routine maintenance is synchronized around oil changes to keep the truck on the road an additional 60 to 70 days over a five-year ownership cycle,” Baughman noted. “Finally, major aerodynamic changes have vastly improved the vehicle's fuel economy profile.”

Daniel Ustian, International's chairman and CEO, added that the ProStar, the 10th new vehicle the company has launched in the last 24 months, is perhaps the most critical. “The Class 8 market in the U.S. is the largest of any truck market sector in the world,” he said. “This is our exclamation point that we're staying in the Class 8 game.”


Rack and pinion

Freightliner LLC unveiled a host of new component offerings that will be available on its Freightliner trucks starting late this year.

The first is a rack and pinion steering option available for the Freightliner Century Class S/T, Coronado, Columbia, Classic and Classic XL Class 8 models. According to Jonathan Randall, director of product marketing, the idea of using rack and pinion steering on heavy-duty trucks was a result of work done by Freightliner engineers with Pikes Peak Freightliner Century Class S/T racer Mike Ryan.

“The lighter weight and extreme precision required to race up a 14,000-ft. mountain are the same qualities needed by on-highway trucks to increase payload and maneuver through traffic or in cramped loading docks,” he said.

Rack and pinion steering consists of two components: The rack is a horizontal shaft with teeth, which intersects the pinion at a 90-deg. angle. Turning the steering wheel turns the pinion, moving the rack to the left or right, thus steering the wheels, Randall explained. This provides more accurate and responsive steering, while slicing 45 lb. of weight out of the steering control system.

Another option is a no-idle climate-control system for Freightliner's Century Class S/T, Coronado and Columbia tractors. Called the Bergstrom NITE (No-Idle Thermal Environment) system, it is designed to keep the sleeper compartment cool in hot weather and warm when it's cold outside.

NITE has four rechargeable batteries that supply electricity to a hermetically sealed air-conditioning unit and an auxiliary heater powered by a generator. The entire system adds only 345 lb. to the truck's overall weight, said Randall. The air conditioner pumps out 3,500 BTUs of cooling capacity and the diesel fuel-operated heater generates 2,900 to 7,500 BTUs per hour.


All-in-one APU

Carrier Transicold is partnering with Teleflex to bring a new auxiliary power unit (APU) to market this year for heavy-duty commercial trucks. Called ComfortPro, this all-in-one system heats and cools the cab, provides power to appliances, helps warm up the engine, and charges the truck's battery.

Manufactured by Teleflex, ComfortPro is currently available as an aftermarket retrofit through Carrier's dealer network.

ComfortPro is powered by a small Kubota diesel engine, which consumes about 0.2 gallons of diesel per hour. However, it can also run off of electrical shore power, said Ignacio Aguerrevere, Carrier's director of marketing. “The ComfortPro incorporates the Deltek hybrid diesel-electric generator system used in our new Vector 1800 MT reefer unit, so there are fewer moving parts,” he added.

Dealer reps at Mid-America said the cost to purchase and install a ComfortPro may start at around $8,500, though that number should fall when sales volume increases.

Aguerrevere noted that recent TMC studies indicate the average long-haul truck idles for roughly 2,000 hours a year, consuming 1.2 gallons of diesel fuel per hour. At $2.50 per gallon — the current price of diesel — that level of idling costs a truck owner $6,000 per year per truck.

Using those numbers, fleets should see a payback in about a year and a half in fuel savings alone. “That doesn't include the savings from less wear and tear on the truck's engines, avoiding fines for idling…in restricted areas, and the driver comfort benefits from less noise and vibration from not having to operate the truck's engine to power sleeper amenities,” Aguerrevere pointed out.

In other company news, Carrier Transicold recently announced its “Road to Master Technician” training program for dealers and their technicians. After completing a two-week module in truck/trailer basics, candidates can take one-week modules in each of three areas: This is followed by three one-week sessions in multi-temp, control and truck systems. Specialist certificates can be earned in each subject area.


Big little lights

Truck-Lite introduced two new Mini-Marker variations of its Model 33 LED lamp. The new Amber Model 33 lamps provide protection from trees and flying debris at all forward and side lamp positions. In addition, Amber Model 33 PC Corner Lamps can be flush-mounted on trailer corners at a 45-degree angle.

“Trailer builders can now offer their customers more durable, damage-resistant lighting,” said Bob Ives, vp of marketing. “The small size and ability to be mounted flush with minimal interior protrusion provides carriers with greater protection. That translates directly to lower operating costs. Fleets that previously avoided premium LEDs on trailers because of exposure to damage can now enjoy the benefits of LED lighting with greatly reduced replacement costs.”

The flush-mounted Amber Model 33 LED Mini-Marker lights help prevent costly lighting damage because they enable trailer builders to design lamps into areas protected by top rails and structural members, according to Truck-Lite. Even the PC corner lamps' rounded lenses are shaped and supported to be virtually damage-free, the company stated.

Key features of the lamps include:

  • available in grommet and flange mount;

  • hard-wired so they can be retrofitted with standard plug connections;

  • less susceptible to shock and vibration;

  • electronics completely sealed in epoxy;

  • draws less current, allowing more power for other vehicle requirements.


Son of Aero

Kenworth Truck Co. took the wraps off the T660 aerodynamic tractor, which replaces the company's-and industry's-first aerodynamic model, the T600.

“We're excited to introduce the new Kenworth T660 with modern styling, superior forward-lighting technology, enhanced aerodynamics and fuel economy, advanced technology, and increased driver comfort,” said Bob Christensen, Kenworth gm & Paccar vp.

According to Mike Dozier, Kenworth chief engineer, the T660 grille is 5% larger to accommodate the increased airflow and cooling performance required by 2007 engines. “Yet,” said Dozier, “Kenworth was able to actually achieve a positive increase in aerodynamics and fuel economy. We used computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis extensively to fine-tune the aerodynamic performance of the whole vehicle.”

Other key features of the T660:

  • Halogen projector low beams that provide 40% more light down the road than a sealed beam lamp and last three times longer. A high-intensity discharge option provides 75% more light and lasts 11 times longer than sealed beams.

  • Advanced technology inside the cab, including an enhanced multiplexed electrical instrumentation system, GPS navigation system (standard with the Diamond cab interior; optional on the Splendor), and new driver's display with real-time fuel economy, ignition timer, on-board diagnostics, gear display and vehicle system configuration reporting.

  • Proprietary seats will feature armrests that can be folded away behind the seat, giving occupants an additional four inches of sleeper access between driver and passenger seats.

Kenworth also introduced the new T300 Class 6 (25,000-lb. GVWR) model equipped with air brakes.

Dozier also noted Bendix ADB22X front and rear air-disc brakes will be available on select Class 8 trucks and tractors.

In addition, the OEM announced its new Kenworth Clean Power System, a battery-powered climate control system with the capability to provide “engine-off” heating and cooling along with 110v “hotel load” power to truck drivers for a full 10 hours.


Meritor to the fore

ArvinMeritor chose this year's Mid-America Trucking Show to begin “revitalizing” its Meritor product and services brand. The manufacturer said the move was based on extensive marketing research conducted by its commercial-vehicle marketing team.

“We have chosen to refocus on Meritor as the premier commercial vehicle systems product brand for ArvinMeritor,” said Dennis Kline, vp-sales & marketing, Commercial Vehicle Systems.

ArvinMeritor also announced numerous product developments. To meet stringent EPA '10 emissions standards, it has developed ActiveClean plasma fuel reformer technology as a “key component in the next generation of exhaust aftertreatment systems for diesel engines.” Silvio Angori, gm of ArvinMeritor Commercial Vehicle Emissions, said the “ActiveClean plasma fuel reformer allows truck operators to more efficiently reduce exhaust emissions, while causing minimal financial and performance impact on their fleets. It enables emissions control devices for particulate matter and NOx removal required by the upcoming standards and offers fuel savings.”

ArvinMeritor noted that for '07 it will supply of 100% of the exhaust aftertreatment device packaging for Daimler Chrysler's heavy-duty engines in the U.S. market.

The company announced availability of its Meritor Severe Service Q Plus heavy-duty brake system for vehicles operating in harsh or rugged environments.

Also rolled out were new wide-based tire hubs for drive and trailer axles, designed to offer truck operators improved fuel economy, better handling and stability. The new hub requires no modification to the drive axle.

The new Meritor RideSentry MPA series of trailer air suspensions was rolled out. “Our new RideSentry trailer air suspension is an evolution of our industry-leading RHP line, packed with major customer-focused enhancements,” said Sergio Carvalho, vp & gm of worldwide trailer systems.

“This new suspension provides advanced cargo and trailer protection, unmatched roll stability, enhanced mobility and reduced downtime. Independent studies affirm that many operators are not ensuring slider locking pins are engaged before driving on-highway. RideSentry's innovative angled pin design helps to address this industry-wide issue,” he added. The RideSentry will be available for dry van and reefer applications beginning in July and will be offered in 38,000- and 40,000-lb. capacities.

Meritor WABCO, a joint venture between ArvinMeritor and WABCO Vehicle Control Systems, announced availability of its new PLC Display for tractor-trailer communications.

ArvinMeritor announced the April availability of a 2.50 ratio for its RS-23-160 single axle series. Specifically designed to work with low-speed engines, the ratio will allow truck operators to optimize performance and fuel economy with the new generation of emissions-controlled engines due in '07.


Two-oil strategy

Chevron Products Co. said it plans to support two engine oils — the new CJ-4 blend for ‘07 engines and the CI-4 grades for pre-'07 models — for some time into the future, largely because market demand for CJ-4 remains uncertain. “In this situation, there is clearly a need to retain the CI-4 oil grades while introducing the CJ-4 product,” she noted. “Although backward compatible, CJ-4 will likely be more expensive than CI-4 Plus and is not required for the off-road market or pre-2007 engines. Based on fleet composition, the majority of Chevron's customers will have a greater need for CI-4 grades, so we'll keep that product on the market until conditions change.”

The new names for Chevron's CJ-4 products are: Delo 400 LE (Low Emissions) Multigrade SAE 15W-40 and Texaco Ursa LA (Low Ash) SAE 15W-40. Fujishige said Chevron expects to have both CJ-4 products available on October 26, 2006, API's first scheduled license date for the new engine oil spec.

Fujishige added that concerns over how far drain intervals can be extended with CJ-4 seem to be a major hurdle for fleets as they approach ‘07.

“We've done about 3.5-million miles of testing so far across all brands of OEM engines…and the one thing we've consistently seen is that all the engines run much hotter,” she said. “With CJ-4, oil drains are expected to be set at 25,000 miles by truck OEMs, but they've not yet published official drain recommendations….they could be extended past that, but we're not expecting it at this point.”


Counterfeit wars

Joe McAleese, president & CEO of Bendix, said his company is beefing up its efforts to stem the tide of counterfeit components coming into the North American market.

“Counterfeits and knockoff parts continue to flood the North American market at an alarming rate, so we plan to continue emphasizing our intellectual property and brand protection efforts and…pursue legal action where warranted against infringement of either one,” he said during a press conference at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

McAleese said most of the trucking-related counterfeit goods Bendix encounters are manufactured in China and other parts of Asia.

Although foreign governments, including China, are helping Bendix shut down counterfeit manufacturing sites in their countries, the operations often re-open quickly in different locations.

“That's why we are focusing our approach on the U.S. importers of counterfeit goods — to cut off the supply channel of knockoffs into this country…It's hard to keep the counterfeit manufacturers shut down for long,” he said. “That's been a successful strategy for us. Once we bring the issue of fake goods to their attention, most importers do the right thing to cease and desist their activity; we rarely need to go to court. We've only had to pursue two with civil proceedings.”

Although the company has managed to prevent knockoff-related losses in market share and considers the situation “stable,” McAleese acknowledged that counterfeit parts are becoming very hard to identify visually.

“We haven't yet faced an accident caused by a counterfeit part, but that's our fear,” he added. “Visual appearance is so similar to our goods even our engineers can't tell them apart until we break them down and test them - that's when you see significant differences, especially in terms of poor performance.”


New mid-roof sleepers for '06

Volvo Trucks North America plans to introduce two mid-roof Class 8 sleeper options in the second half of 2006: the VN 730 and the VT 830. Peter Karlsten, Volvo's president & CEO, said the new mid-roof models will broaden the OEM's product range and meet customer demands for more fuel-efficient tractor options for pulling low-height van trailers, tankers, flatbeds, lowboys and intermodal containers.

“You get a significant aerodynamic advantage with a mid-roof when pulling low-height trailers — 20% less drag vs. a high roof sleeper,” added Frank Bio, Volvo's truck product manager. The mid-roof weighs about 425 lb. less than a comparable Volvo high-roof.

Scott Kress, Volvo's senior vp-sales and marketing, added that the company is beefing up its commitment to service via its new “World Class Dealer” (WCD) program. To qualify for WCD certification, dealers must adhere to a 10-point code of conduct aimed at minimizing maintenance downtime for customers.

“Dealers certified under our WCD initiative must offer 24/7 service, have critical parts available as needed, diagnose vehicle problems within two hours, and continually update the customer on repair progress,” he said. Currently, 100 of Volvo's 351 dealers are WCD certified; Kress expects the remainder to achieve WCD status by the end of 2006.


Day cabs cool off

Dometic Environmental Corp. showcased a new battery-powered auxiliary air conditioning system developed specifically for the day cab market. It operates from the truck's batteries and uses common trucking-industry components, installs in just four to six hours and requires virtually no regular maintenance, according to Dometic. The system consists of an air-conditioning system; a DC-AC inverter; an upsized, high-capacity alternator; thermostat control; and optional shore power plug. Two air conditioners are offered: a 7,000 BTU self-contained unit; and a 10,000 BTU split system.


Highway hero

Douglas Crawford, a driver for Saia Motor Freight Lines, was named the Goodyear North America Highway Hero for 2005. Crawford, of Ashford, AL, rescued Herman Langford, a driver for Sexton Farms Trucking, who had been in a chain-reaction collision with a Roadway vehicle on I-85 near Atlanta last August.

The Roadway truck had allegedly been rear-ended by a hit-and-run driver, forcing it to cross a grass median into opposing traffic. Both trucks exploded into flames and the cab of the Roadway truck disintegrated.

After witnessing the collision, Crawford parked his truck on the shoulder — after “dodging out-of-control cars trying to avoid the accident” — and ran across the median to the scene of the crash.

Realizing that no one in the Roadway truck could have survived, Crawford headed for the Sexton Farms truck, where he found the driver conscious but unable to move, according to Goodyear. Crawford was able to pull Langsford from the burning tractor-trailer just minutes before it exploded.

As part of the award, Goodyear presented Crawford with a $10,000 U.S. savings bond and a Highway Hero ring.

Three other drivers were also honored as finalists in this year's competition: Danny Wallen, Conover, OH, ABF Freight System; Robert A. Starr, North Troy, VT, Starr's Transportation; and Michael Knott, Casselberry, FL, FedEx Ground.

To nominate a driver for the 2006 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, go to


Star light, star bright

International's ProStar line of trucks, officially introduced at the Mid-America Trucking Show, may be the company's first new heavy-duty star to be seen, but it won't be the last, according to Deepak (Dee) Kapur, president of the company's truck group. “This is the first step in the renovation of our heavy-duty product line,” Kapur notes. “We've done a very rigorous job benchmarking and fine-tuning the product and we already have orders based on experiences with the test trucks, but the real proof of our success, of course, will be in the market's response.”

Kapur views the 2007 launch date as auspicious, too, rather than as an obstacle. “The 2007 timing of the introduction is a good thing,” he notes. “When you design something from the ground up, you have lots of leeway when it comes to packaging; you don't have to fit new concepts into an existing framework. Designing an entirely new truck while we were also developing the 2007 engine and exhaust aftertreatment solution gave us the benefit of more design latitude. Some people say you assume more risk building a new house and a new foundation at the same time,” he observes. “I say you can have a better house.

“The market will also be going through a major adjustment in 2007,” Kapur adds. “That means more people will be taking a fresh look at all their options. We believe this will represent a good opportunity for the ProStar to shine.”

International plans to begin ramping up for full production of the new trucks this fall. “We will start a slow ramp-up in the fall of 2006,” Kapur notes. “I don't know what our full line build rate will be at this point, but we'll probably hit it 60 to 90 days into 2007. We'll have a much better sense for that by this summer.”

The new ProStar heavy-duty series is the result of a $300 million investment and five years of work, including the continuous involvement of both dealer and customer advisory teams. While it's the biggest new project, it hasn't been the only one on International's drawing board. In fact, it's the 10th major announcement in 24 months, says Kapur.

Last summer, for example, the company announced plans to enter into a joint venture with Mahindra & Mahindra of India to produce and market light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles for India and export markets. The joint venture, to be named Mahindra International, will have 51% ownership by Mahindra and 49% ownership by International.

“Back in the 1960s, we had a partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra involving International's tractors,” says Kapur. “That was the first link between our two companies. I suppose you could say it represents our emotional tie.

“We are also planning to expand our exports generally and are actively looking for opportunities in China. We expect the Asian market to grow rapidly for some time into the future,” he adds. “While we don't expect to offer every market a common solution, we believe we can take advantage of common processes and components. We have some good momentum now, particularly with the launch of the ProStar.”


Latest '07 trio

Cummins Inc. announced that a full lineup of ‘07 ratings would be available for its heavy-duty ISX and ISM diesel engines. The engine maker specifically introduced three new ratings:

  • ISX 425 SmartTorque (ST)
  • ISX 485 SmartTorque (ST)
  • ISX 600

Cummins said the 2007 ISX engines will “leverage core in-house technologies from air-handling to aftertreatment to deliver the best fuel economy, lowest operating cost, and performance and durability that the trucking industry expects.”

Designed for truckload fleets, the ISX 425 SmartTorque provides 1550/1750 lb.-ft. of extra torque that “will allow drivers to stay in top gear longer, maintain road speed better and shift less often on grades. This SmartTorque rating will increase the percentage of time in top gear along with providing increased driver satisfaction.” In addition, Cummins said increased time in top gear and less shifting mean better fuel economy.

The ISX 485 ST is designed for the “premium truckload market.” Buyers will have a choice of either a straight rating or a SmartTorque rating. “The ISX 485 ST delivers on the performance and fuel economy needs of these customers,” according to Cummins.

For “heavy haulers and owner-operators who demand extra performance,” Cummins will offer the ISX 600 with 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque.

All new ratings are compatible with a range of automated and manual transmissions. “Customers selecting the ISX 425 SmartTorque will have options for selecting various transmissions to optimize for best operating efficiency in their specific fleet,” Cummins noted.

“We continue to expand our ratings to deliver every advantage for our customers,” said Jeff Jones, vp-sales & market communications. “These additional ratings hit the sweet spot for two very important but different sets of Cummins customers, with specific advantages for the needs of their very different business models: Those involved in truckload operations where the absolute best fuel economy makes the difference in business performance; and those who need extra horsepower for demanding loads.”

The engine maker said the new ratings are “enabled by a combination of Cummins engine technologies, including enhancements to Cummins cooled exhaust gas re-circulation (EGR), combined with high injection pressures, the ability of the Cummins particulate filter to maximize use of passive regeneration, the Holset VG turbocharger with electric actuation, plus integrated engine and aftertreatment controls.”

The new ISM engine will also feature enhanced fuel economy for '07 and include 410 and 425V horsepower ratings, the company said. Both the ISX and ISM for 2007 will be available in limited production in this year's fourth quarter, with full production slated to begin next January


Road service expands

Offering roadside tire assistance all-day everyday to national accounts customers, the 24/7 ONCall Emergency Road Service from Michelin Americas Truck Tires is being extended to truckers, including owner-operators.

Provided through a network of Michelin dealers and travel plazas, the emergency service can bring roadside tire repairs and replacements by calling 1-800-TIRE-911 for rapid service dispatch. Drivers with Michelin X One wide single tires have another dedicated telephone number for emergency service — 1-877-X One-911.

ONCall personnel are equipped to handle calls in English, Spanish and French, according to Michelin, which says its fees are competitive with other repair services.


Complete cab system

Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG), a supplier of cab-related products, unveiled a new truck cab model. The size of an actul Class 7/8 truck cab, it showcases CVG's capabilities as a complete truck cab systems provider. It includes products from each of the company's divisions: Mayflower Vehicle Systems, Monona Wire, Trim Systems and Cabarrus Plastics, National Seating and Sprague Devices.


Ready for '07

Western Star introduced its EPA-'07 chassis, as well as a variety of new vehicle enhancements ranging from factory-installed Sirius and XM satellite radios to a butterfly hood option on 4900 SA models.

The OEM showcased the '07 chassis via its 4900 EX, which featured a Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine and 82-in. Stratosphere sleeper.

Design changes to the chassis include updated cooling packages and new exhaust systems. According to Matt Stevenson, manager of product strategy, all Western Star '07 models will be equipped with the new chassis.

One of the changes needed to accommodate '07 emissions requirements is a bigger radiator package. However, the OEM was able to make room for the increased cooling capacity without changing its traditional hood and grille by adding a drop-front frame casting.

Changes made to accommodate the larger radiators also enabled improvements to front suspensions. A new 56-in. asymmetric spring provides improved roll stiffness and better handling in turns, while maintaining soft ride characteristics, according to Western Star. Steer axle configurations will also include the AF-18.0-5 18,000-lb. option.

The aftertreatment systems needed for '07 models will be available with both horizontal and vertical frame mounting, and vertical tailpipes.


Engines rev up for ‘07

Using a new diesel particulate filter (DPF), proprietary DPF regeneration system and a modified version of its ACERT technology, Caterpiller will offer four on-highway engine models in 2007 covering all current power ratings, according to company officials. Jim Parker, vp of the power systems marketing division, added that “ACERT with some modifications also gives us a clear line of sight to meeting 2010 emissions levels.”

Medium-duty applications in 2007 will be covered by the C7 and C9, which will get a new common rail fuel system and variable vane turbochargers to help them meet the new emissions requirements.

With displacement unchanged from current models, the 7.2L C7 will be offered in ratings ranging from 190 to 300 hp. at 2,200 rpm for truck and bus applications. Fire-truck ratings of 300 to 350 hp. at 2,400 rpm will also be available.

Displacement for the C9 will be boosted a bit for 2007, growing to 9.3L, as well as acquiring a Cat integral engine brake. Ratings will range from from 285 to 350 hp. at 2,100 rpm for trucks and buses, and 335 to 425 hp. for fire trucks.

In heavy-duty trucks, the C13 will continue to cover on-highway applications and replace the C11 in vocational uses. The 12.5L engine will be available in ratings of 380 to 470 hp. for on-highway models, 305 to 370 hp. for vocational models, and 485 to 525 hp. for fire-truck versions, all at 2,100 rpm with peak torques ranging from 1,150 to 1,750 lb.-ft.

At the top of its engine line, the 2007 C15 will continue offering ratings from 435 to 625 hp. for truck applications and 600 to 625 hp. for fire trucks, all at 2,100 rpm. Torque rating for the 15.2L engine will range from 1,550 lb.-ft. all the way up to 2,150 lb.-ft.

Approximately 100 engines with the 2007 technology have already run up 3-million miles in revenue-hauling field tests for a number of fleets, according to Steve Brown, Caterpillar's director of on-highway engine marketing. Field test mileage should exceed 12 million miles by October.

Caterpillar says it will begin taking orders for production versions of its 2007 engines in the fourth quarter this year.


Brands benefit

Chris Patterson, president and CEO of Freightliner LLC, said the company's truck brands — Freightliner, Sterling and Western Star — are benefiting from the globalization efforts of their parent company, DaimlerChrysler.

One example is the use of selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions control technology, developed in Europe, in Freightliner trucks to help meet 2010 regulations. According to Elmar Boekenhoff, Freightliner's senior vp-engineering and technology, SCR can improve fuel economy up to 10% more than the EGR platforms currently used in the U.S.

“It's all about where you attempt to reduce oxides of nitrogen (NOx) formation,” he explained. “If you attempt to [do that] within the engine, there's a price to pay: engine efficiency and fuel economy.” According to Boekenhoff, you don't suffer those losses when you use SCR because it eliminates NOx in the exhaust stream.

Part of the reason DaimlerChrysler is trying to build more global leverage for the Freightliner LLC truck brands is to find ways to lower the costs associated with '07 emissions compliance. Patterson said Freightliner expects its '07 medium-duty trucks, equipped with Cummins' ISB engine or the MBE 900, to cost between $4,500 and $6,000 more per vehicle. Class 8's spec'd with the Series 60 or the MBE will see the base sticker price jump anywhere from $7,000 to $10,000.

Price increases for trucks equipped with Caterpillar C-13 or C-15 engines have not yet been established, he added.

“We're working vigorously to try and reduce those costs and we're looking to the global leverage of DaimlerChrysler to help us do that,” said Patterson. “That's the benefit to co-developing trucks and engines together, within the same family of companies, rather than serially.”

Patterson noted that for '07, Freightliner has already accumulated 14.8-million test miles with '07-compliant engines built by its sister companies, the Detroit Diesel Series 60 and the Mercedes-Benz MBE 4000 and 900, as well as the Cummins ISB for the medium-duty line.


Idle reduction in 23 inches

Engine & Energy Technology Corp. (EENT) introduced a modified version of its AXP 1000, the AXP Gen-a-Sys. The new idle reduction solution is specifically designed for use on trucks where open frame space is at a premium, according to Paul Baumann, sr.-vp sales and marketing.

“It's basically the same unit as our flagship AXP 1000,” explains Baumann, “but the Gen-a-Sys is configured like a saddlebag, with the generator on one side and the condenser unit on the other. This means that the Gen-a-Sys requires just 23 horizontal inches mounting space on the frame. That is small enough to fit on 80-plus percent of all truck models, including on many trucks with under-cab fairings, for instance. Like the AXP 1000, the new configuration is air-cooled and can be installed in 10 to 14 hours.”


Lighter, brighter

Alcoa Mill Products' Translite exterior clear-coated, polished aluminum exterior side skin is now available as an option on the Utility 3000R reefer. A cosmetic alternative to stainless steel, Translite is also appropriate for applications where weight has a significant impact on productivity. The coating is resistant to peeling, corrosion and yellowing over time, and protects the aluminum from harsh elements such as road salt.


Wireless weigh

Halifax, NS-based TruckWeight Inc. announced that its new Smart Sensor extends the wireless range of its Smart Scale onboard truck weighing scale to as much as 500 feet.

Designed for air-suspension equipped trucks, tractors and trailers, the Smart Scale provides fast, precise and accurate axle weight readings, said Peter Panagapko, president of TruckWeight. He said the new Smart Sensor and wireless reader allow taking those measurements where it's convenient and safe, whether that's in the truck cab or on a loading machine.

The Smart Sensor measures temperature and pressure changes in a vehicle's air suspension and wirelessly relays this data to a handheld receiver using a low-powered radio transmitter. A small computer in the handheld receiver interprets the information and provides an axle weight and GVW measurement that's accurate to within 150 lb. It produces readings once per minute and every three seconds when the sensors detect the truck being loaded.

The result is an axle weight and gross vehicle weight measurement that's within 0.3% of the actual GVW, stated Panagapko. He noted that the device uses common AA batteries for power and that its sleek new anodized-aluminum housing design makes it easy to mount anywhere on the vehicle without a mounting bracket.

“Most truck operators can equip a typical tractor-trailer unit in the field in about 30 minutes,” Panagapko said. “With no wires to hook up, Smart Scale eliminates the expense and downtime associated with a complicated hardwired installation as well as the maintenance concerns related to cables and electrical connections.

“The person running the loader or lift truck knows approximately how much freight to put on the vehicle,” Panagapko added. “But gut feel, air gauges and lift-truck scales are no assurance you're operating at your maximum productivity. With its robust wireless capabilities, Smart Scale is an affordable, convenient way to put accurate weight measurements in the palm of your hand.”


APU for trucking

Starting this summer, a new auxiliary power unit (APU) will be available from Kohler Power Systems, a division of Kohler Co. The company is expanding its generator product line to include an APU specifically tailored to the needs of the trucking industry.

On display at the Mid-America Trucking Show, the new 5-kw, air-cooled, self-contained APU weighs in at less than 350 lb. and is just 27 in. wide. The system features a direct-drive alternator and Advanced Digital Controller with LED screen that displays up to 13 operational conditions. It is tucked into a sound-attenuated enclosure to provide quieter operation.

The more than 500 Kohler distributors and dealers nationwide that support the mobile generator division will provide support for the new APU as well.


Telematics group

Marking a return to the telematics market, Eaton Corp. announced a new marketing and product development agreement with @Road Inc. that is intended to deliver remote access to vehicle diagnostic and safety data. The company has also created the Vehicle Solutions Business Unit (VSBU) to oversee the project.

With responsibility for Eaton's VORAD and MD Tools Mobile Diagnostics product lines also moving to that new unit, the company says it intends to become a systems-based solutions provider for telematics, according to VSBU manager Roderick Jones.

Although few details were offered at a Mid-America Trucking Show press conference, VSBU and @Road will develop a new product that delivers data from the VORAD collision warning system and MD diagnostics solutions over @Road's wireless data network, Jones said.

The VORAD system currently collects data on following distances that can be used to warn drivers of potential collisions and stores that data onboard for accident recording and reconstruction. Presumably some or all of that information would be available to fleets in real-time using @Road's wireless fleet management system.

The two are also expected to develop onboard diagnostics capabilities based on the MD product line, which currently includes handheld scan tools, vehicle link adapters, and PC/PDA diagnostic software.


Reman, gear plan

Roadranger — the commercial-vehicle marketing alliance between Dana, Eaton and Bendix — talked about some new efforts aimed at making axle gears quieter and streamlining the transmission rebuild process.

According to Leo Wenstrup, sr. product manager-drive axles, Dana's Commercial Vehicle Systems group is now offering GenTech gears for heavy-duty drive axles. GenTech is a new hypoid gearing design that provides automotive level reductions in noise, vibration and harshness for medium- and heavy-duty truck applications. “GenTech gearing is a proprietary system using computer aided design methods, premium manufacturing processes, tightly controlled heat-treat and material specifications, and advanced in-line testing to reduce gear noise and vibration,” he explained.

He added that the hypoid axle gearing results in substantially quieter and smoother axle operation, while still maintaining the strength and durability required for medium- and heavy-duty commercial truck applications.

GenTech gearing is initially available in Dana's newest Spicer S110 and S130 single drive axles with GAWRs of up to 16,500 lb. Others will be added later this year.

On the Eaton side of the Roadranger alliance, a new transmission remanufacturing effort — the Fuller 360° program — is taking shape. The program enables customers to order transmission parts as complete kits, rather than on a part by part basis. “Through this program, transmission rebuilders and repair shops can streamline their operations and improve service cycle times,” said David Plaster, Eaton's aftermarket marketing manager. “High volume rebuilders can save money and manage inventories more effectively by purchasing bulk parts regularly through the Fuller 360∞ program, reducing multiple order processes and improving inventory levels.”

The program also offers comprehensive one-year warranties that are fully transferable throughout North America on all parts, kits, remanufactured Fuller transmissions and Fuller subassemblies.

The Roadranger marketing brand includes a wide assortment of drivetrain components, including Fuller transmissions, Dana Spicer axles and suspensions, Bendix brakes, Eaton's Vorad collision warning systems, Fuller clutches, Dana Spicer driveshafts, Roadranger lubes, and Dana Spicer tire pressure management systems.


Hybrid on tour

About to be introduced to the Japanese domestic market later this year, the medium-duty Mitsubishi Fuso Cantor Eco-Hybrid was on display as part of a worldwide tour for the technology. The Cantor Eco-Hybrid combines a 123-hp. diesel engine with a 47-hp. electric motor/generator and lithium-ion batteries to deliver up to a 30% improvement in fuel economy, according to the company, which says it is currently evaluating potential demand for the vehicle in the U.S.


Powering up

IdleAire Technologies Corp. awarded a $65-million contract to Eaton Corp. to provide Eaton's Power Truss system as a key component of the IdleAire ATE (Advanced Travel Center Electrification) systems that are planned for deployment at 210 new truckstop and fleet terminal locations over the next 12 months.

According to IdleAire, its ATE system provides substitute power so truck drivers can turn off their rigs' diesel engines during required rest stops to eliminate 100% of idling emissions. The system delivers filtered in-cab heating and air conditioning as well as power for in-truck communications, entertainment and customized remote training.

Eaton co-developed the Power Truss system with IdleAire. It enables distributing electrical power to individual IdleAire-equipped parking spaces at truckstops and terminals.


Hot and cold

Webasto has combined its Air Top 2000 forced-air heater and BlueCool Truck air conditioner into one package, called the Complete Cabin Climate Comfort Control solution, or C5 Truck Package for short. The two units are now available as a complete system for cooling and heating sleepers without depending on power from an idling diesel engine, said Don Kanneth, gm of Webasto's heavy duty division.

“The cooling component of C5 Truck, BlueCool Truck, is charged or frozen during the day while the truck is running,” he said. “At night, the patent-pending BlueCool cold storage unit provides a source of cold, dehumidified air to the bunk area, with no further use of a powered air-conditioning device,” Kanneth explained. “The air is moved by four small fans powered by only small amounts of electricity from the existing vehicle batteries to circulate chilled air from the cold storage unit and heat exchanger installed in the truck sleeper cabin,” he added. The cold air will keep the bunk area cool for 8 to 10 hours in most ambient conditions.

The Air Top 2000 is a forced-air heater that uses diesel fuel from the vehicle's tank to warm the interior, but only at 1/20th of a gallon of fuel per hour, which is much less than an idling engine's typical 1.2 gal./hr. rate, said Kanneth.


Sealed 7-way fights corrosion

The TriMAXX 7-way Sealed Plug System is a new design intended to resist corrosion and keep out contaminants, according to the manufacturer, Sloan Transportation Products.

Shown for the first time at MATS, the new design features a plug face gasket to create a positive seal with any 7-way receptacle, according to the company. Other new features include “over-molded” terminals to prevent corrosion migration and an integrated drip-edge channel to keep water and other contaminants from flowing down the cable into the plug/socket connection.


Sandwich to go

Vanguard National Trailer Corp. rolled out its new VXP composite plate trailer. If damaged, said Vanguard, the composite panels may be removed and replaced without affecting adjacent panels and no special shop tools are required.

According to the trailer maker, composite sidewalls consisting of panels that sandwich a HDPE foamed plastic core between two galvanized steel cover sheets provide strength and durability against abrasion and damage. In addition, rust-preventive primer and polyester finish coats are baked on the cover sheets for added longevity.

Along with the trailer itself carrying Vanguard's standard warranty, the composite panels are protected by a 10-yr. warranty. Vanguard said the composite plates are joined by steel posts paired with galvanized internal posts with log slots. Smooth, rounded rivet heads provide a snag-free interior sidewall, and the posts on 48-in. centers provide “vertical logistic availability” for the full length of the trailer.”

Vanguard pointed out that many specs typically considered as premium come standard on the VXP, including: extensive galvanizing; one-piece, extruded aluminum top front rail; welded-steel gussets on every other crossmember; and all LED lights, both California- and Canada-legal

Production of the new trailer will begin this July in Vanguard's Indiana manufacturing plants.


Focus on CJ-4

Shell is touting CJ-4, API's new oil category for '07 engines, as the best choice for fleets. Although the lubricant maker plans to continue to offer CI-4 and CI-4 Plus next year, it hopes to encourage fleets to switch completely to CJ-4 once they start buying '07 equipment.

“First of all, we think CJ-4 is a better product than [currently used] CI-4 and CI-4 Plus,” said Dan Arcy, technical expert for Shell. “CJ-4 is designed with better wear protection, higher oxidation protection, and better soot handling characteristics. CJ-4 will cost more, yes, but not enough more to warrant the expense of stocking two grades of engine oil.”

“In knowing how many SKUs [store keeping units] we'll need to add to support two oils for a fleet in the field, the costs are just enormous,” he said. “On top of that, the risk of using an older oil in the ‘07 engines could be severe. We just think it's a smarter and safer strategy for a fleet to use just one oil — one that is going to protect all of their engines equally well.”


They've got you covered

Thermo King Corp. announced that it is extending its Thermo King SVC Thermo Gard Service programs, originally developed to provide reefer customers with a variety of maintenance options, to include the TriPac Auxiliary Idle Reduction and Temperature Management System.

The program provides three maintenance options for TriPaAa guaranteed maintenance program.

According to the company, the Thermo Gard Platinum level is a custom program tailored to provide a maintenance solution to meet each customer's specific needs.


Retro ratchet

Ancra International introduced a new retrofit version of its popular SilverCap ratchet-cap winch for flatbed trailers at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Called Overdrive, the new SilverCap package can be installed over existing non-ratcheting winches in just minutes, according to Ancra. This enables flatbed operators to enjoy the advantages of a ratcheting load securement system without having to scrap their original winches.

The original SilverCap winch eliminates the need to insert, remove and then reinsert the winch bar in order to tighten the straps securing a flatbed's load. Much like a socket wrench, the winch bar remains engaged in the ratchet cap of the winch as the cap floats freely, allowing continued cranking in one direction.


Veteran editor heads Trucker Buddy

Trucker Buddy International, the non-profit organization that matches school classes with truck drivers as pen pals, introduced Roxane Campbell Rose at the Mid-America Trucking Show as its new executive director. Rose was a founding editor of rpm magazine in 1992 and has worked most recently in the marketing department for Great Dane Trailers.

Rose replaces Ellen Voie, who has taken a driver-relations position with Schneider National.

“I just hope I can fill the big shoes (Voie) leaves behind as well as meet — or exceed — the new expectations and goals of the organization,” Rose said at the introduction. Rose's initial plans include increasing awareness of Trucker Buddy in the education sector, pursuing grants, increasing membership of both drivers and teachers, and developing new programs and fundraisers.

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