New commercial vehicle breakthroughs offer big advantages

Dec. 20, 2022
Truck and engine OEMs are strategically gearing toward producing equipment that will help meet upcoming emissions regulations.

Truck equipment challenges that began at the start of the pandemic in 2020 have continued through 2022, with OEM backlogs and allocations expected to linger through 2023. Every year, FleetOwner publishes its new models report that details new light-, medium-, and heavy-duty straight trucks and tractors for the following model year. This year, though, we are doing something a little different.

Flipping through this gallery, readers absolutely will see some of the model year 2023 vehicles that they might consider adding to their fleets. Keep in mind, however, that many of the advancements being made by OEMs aren’t simply cosmetic in nature.

Truck and engine OEMs are strategically gearing toward producing equipment that will help fleets meet California Air Resources Board (CARB) 2024 emissions regulations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s new, stronger standards for heavy-duty vehicles and engines starting in model year 2027.

“There are a lot of developments with trying to meet the CARB compliance—aerodynamics, engine technologies to try to improve fuel economy, cylinder deactivation, and things of that nature,” Al Barner, Fleet Advantage’s SVP of strategic fleet solutions, told FleetOwner. “This is all in an attempt to improve fuel economy and reduce the NOx coming out of the engine. While there is probably not much aesthetically other than aerodynamics, there are an awful lot of technology changes that will occur to meet those 2024 regulations.”

Whether it’s developing a “clean-sheet” design from the ground up for internal combustion engines, or focusing on battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cells for certain segments, truck and engine manufacturers have their hands full and are in a rush to comply with these future mandates. On top of that, even as the market stabilizes, the reality is that fleets are still waiting longer periods of time for their new equipment.

“In 2022, OEMs only built 182,000 Class 8 tractors, so we’re still trying to catch up from that slowdown back in 2020,” Barner explained. “If you look at all the changes we’ve had since about that time, we’ve had about 200,000 tractors below demand. So, our indications are that it’s about nine to 12 months behind production. We’ve got a long way to go to catch up with the demand, so we think it will go all the way into 2024.”

Check out some of FleetOwner’s “new model” and advancement picks in the heavy-, medium-, and light-duty segments heading into 2023.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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