If you're looking for information about the trucking industry, there's no better way to start than with an Internet connection and a Web browser. But proceed carefully. If you just jump in without some basic idea about where you want to go, you'll probably sink under the weight of too much information. For example, a recent search on the term "commercial trucks" returned 989,818 matches.
To help you get your bearings amid all that information clutter, the following annotated list offers a starting point for online research in the area of trucking. It includes URLs for manufacturers of Class 2 through 8 commercial trucks and major truck components, as well as a selected list of the industry's major associations and Federal regulatory agencies. The capsule descriptions should save a considerable amount of time by letting you know what kind of information you'll find at each Web site before you even log on to your Internet provider.
One site that's conspicuously absent from this list is Fleet Owner's own (www.fleetowner.com). It might be a good place to start, though, since it contains hot links to all of the listed sites and others that we'll continue to add as we review them. You'll also find searchable buyers' guides covering shop equipment and fleet management software, as well as industry news and analysis from the editors of Fleet Owner.
TRUCKS AND COMPONENTS Bering Truck Co. (www.beringtruck.com) This attractive site opens with an animation based on the new company's bear logo and quickly gets down to business. It allows you to search its product listings by class, vocation, chassis type or engine, offering general details on all models. It also provides a dealer locator and a list of company contacts, as well as a virtual tour of a Bering medium-duty interior.
Chevrolet (www.chevrolet.com/csv/index.htm) This site provides product and option descriptions for commercial light- and medium-duty Chevrolet models, including specs, vocation applications, warranty information, maintenance, dealer locations, and General Motor's alternative fuels program.
Dodge (www.4adodge.com) Although this site is geared toward mass-market consumers, it does offer a good deal of information on Dodge Ram and Ram Van commercial light-truck models, features, prices, and accessories. As might be expected, it's filled with interactive features that, for example, let you check out the inside of a four-door Ram cab.
Ford (www.fordvehicles.com/superduty) Full details on Ford's new commercial line of Super Duty F-250 to F-550 light-duty and midrange trucks can be found at this Web site. Updates on the new Class 6 and 7 Super-Duty F-650 and F-750 should also be available by the end of the month. Among the more unusual features is a "build-your-own" page that lets visitors spec the right truck for their particular application.
Freightliner Corp. (www.freightliner.com) This corporate site serves as a gateway to Web sites for the company's various divisions: Freightliner Trucks, Sterling Trucks, Alliance, American LaFrance, Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. (FCCC), Mercedes Benz Credit Corp., and its used-truck operation, SelecTrucks. (See separate listings below for details on Freightliner Trucks and Sterling.) Of special interest to fleet managers, the Alliance site (www. alliancesupport.com) provides access to Freightliner, FCCC, Sterling, and ALF online maintenance and driver manuals, as well as details on parts specials, service programs, warranties, and the corporation's fleet management information systems. The SelecTrucks (www.selectrucks.com) Web page provides up-to-date used-truck listings, dealer locations, and information on the division's warranties, financing and other services available.
Freightliner Trucks (www.freightlinertrucks.com) This is the direct link to general information on current Freightliner models and options, Alliance service and parts offerings, and dealer listings for the U.S., Canada, and other international markets. The site also includes a "Truckers' Lounge" with current weather conditions and diesel fuel prices throughout the country. Future enhancements promised include Web links of particular interest to drivers.
GMC Trucks (www.gmc.com/commercial) Designed specifically for fleet users, this General Motors Web site provides descriptions for light -and medium-duty GMC Truck models, including specs, vocation applications, warranty information, maintenance, dealer locations, and GM's alternative-fuels program.
Hino (www.hinotrucksusa.com) If you're looking for wheelbase lengths, cab-to-axle measurements, gross weight ratings, axle capacities, and other detailed specs for Hino midrange and medium-duty models, this is the Web site for you. It also offers dealer addresses, warranty information, company news, and a contact list. Registered Hino owners can also use the site to place and track warranty claims.
International (www.navistar.com) This information dense site includes links to pages devoted to International heavy- and medium-duty trucks, school buses, diesel engines, used trucks, parts and service, and financing options. It can also be used to locate a dealer by name or state. And for online browsers, the parts section offers a changing menu of "SuperNet Specials."
Isuzu (www.isuzucv.com) This commercial vehicle site offers powertrain, chassis, and cab details on Isuzu's F-Series and N-series Class 3 through 7 cabover trucks. It includes comparative reviews, warranty info, a dealer locator, and a list of company contacts.
Kenworth (www.kenworth.com/kw) KW model information is offered by application and includes general lists of features and benefits as well as more detailed "online brochures." The site also has a used-truck locator, a listing of dealers, and details on the company's range of maintenance, breakdown, express lube and other customer services. History buffs will also find a concise retelling of Kenworth's first 80 years.
Mack Trucks (www.macktrucks.com) The Bulldog site offers highly detailed descriptions of the company's entire model lineup, a locator for both new and used Mack trucks, contact information for dealer and service locations, a link to Mack Canada's Web site, and vehicle leasing information. If you're interested in trying out e-commerce, the company has extended its popular Mack Shops to the Internet, offering shirts, jackets, hats, coffee cups, and just about anything else that can be adorned with a bulldog.
Mazda (www.mazdausa.com) Although this is primarily a passenger-car site, it does provide descriptions for Mazda's compact B-Series pickup, including specs and comparisons to other makes. It also includes dealer locations for the U.S. and Canada.
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America (www.mitfuso.com) This home page leads to Mitsubishi Fuso vehicle information organized by vocation, including refrigerated van, furniture delivery, vehicle recovery, grounds maintenance, and utility service. It provides body mounting specs for each vocation, as well as detailed vehicle specs by model. The site also includes a listing of dealers and recent company news releases.
Nissan (www.nissan-usa.com) General information at this consumer-oriented Web site includes extensive details on the compact Frontier pickup and its four-door crew cab model. It also includes a Nissan dealer locator.
PACCAR (www.paccar.com) This corporate site is the link to all PACCAR business units, including Kenworth (see listing above for details), Peterbilt (see listing below for details), Kenworth Mexicana, DAF Trucks, Foden Trucks, Leyland Trucks, PACCAR Leasing, PACCAR Finance, and PACCAR Parts. Highlights of the huge site include a used-truck locator for KW and Pete models, a listing of PacLease (www. paccar.com/paclease) service locations, and information on company parts specials and its electronic parts catalogs (www. paccar.com/ parts). For those interested in trucking across the Atlantic, the DAF link (www.daftrucks.com) provides access to indepth information about its models and service programs in Europe.
Peterbilt Motors (www.peterbilt.com/pb) Features, specs, options, and pictures for all Peterbilt heavy- and medium-duty models are just a few clicks away at this site. It also offers details on Pete's roadside assistance and maintenance services, a used-truck locator, a searchable dealer list, a short company history, and recent press releases. You can also request copies of any current Peterbilt brochure by filling out an online request form.
Sterling (www.sterling trucks.com) Check out features and main specs for the entire Sterling lineup at this company site, as well as find local dealers and read about recent company news. This site also includes a "Truckers' Lounge" with up-to-date weather information and diesel fuel prices, as well as a link to the Alliance parts and service network. You can contact Sterling customer support and executive offices through the site as well.
Toyota (www.toyota.com) This site leads to details on the new Tundra full-size pickup with V8, including specs for frame, suspension, engine, and four-door cab, as well as price information, photos, and early reviews. Other site features include dealer and parts and service locators.
UD Trucks (www.udtrucks.com) Nissan Diesel America provides online model details with "specs @ a glance" for its Class 3 through 7 cabover product line. The commercial truck site also includes a dealer locator, as well as information on parts and service, warranties, incentive programs, and company contacts.
Volvo (www.volvotrucks.volvo.com) This is the place to go for full descriptions of Volvo Truck models and powertrain components, as well as details on the company's support programs and contacts. In addition to U.S., Canadian, and international dealer locators, the Volvo Truck Web site offers share-the-road safety tips, a truck-show exhibit schedule, company news, and special offers such as immediate delivery on certain vocational truck chassis.
Western Star Trucks (www.wstar.com) Basic specs for Western Star's heavy-duty model lineup are available, as is a dealer locator. Still under construction, the site also offers basic information on parts and service, as well as financing packages.
COMPONENTS Caterpillar Engine (www.cat-engines.com) While the on-highway operations of the Caterpillar Engine Div. has an entirely new Web site under development, the current one is still a good source for information on engine model features, technical specs, service, and support. It also includes a locator for U.S., Canadian, and international dealers.
Cummins Engine Co. (www.cummins.com) There are two versions of this site - one that uses Shockwave interactive animation and a simpler one that combines text and graphics. Both, however, provide access to the same information including on-highway engine specs with features and ratings, a parts and service locator, and product listings for the company's Fleetguard filter division. The pages covering Cummins' electronics systems include downloadable demos for the Intelect Software family of products and ICON idle control system.
Detroit Diesel Corp. (www.detroitdiesel.com) In addition to engine specs and ratings information, the DDC site offers online access to a searchable library of service bulletins for all of its engine models and electronic control systems. It also includes a distributor locator, a list of international contacts, recent company press releases, and a short Detroit Diesel history.
Eaton Corp. (www.truck.eaton.com) Although this is a huge site, it's well organized and relatively easy to navigate. Most fleet managers searching for specific technical information on Eaton's truck components should check the menu bar for three general areas: Spec Our Products (technical details), Operate Our Products (driver manuals and lubrication requirements), and Service Our Products (service manuals, troubleshooting guides and bulletins, and parts and warranty information). The site also serves as a gateway to pages specifically devoted to Roadranger services, the Eaton VORAD system, Dana Spicer brakes and axles, AutoShift transmissions, ABS, and other truck components. Other notable features include a virtual trade show where you can check out Eaton Truck Components offerings and pick up literature, and links to the Eaton Fleet Advisor Web site.
Meritor Automotive (www.meritorauto.com) Although this site offers extensive product descriptions covering the complete range of Meritor heavy-duty and light-duty components, its real strength for fleet users is the depth of its technical support data. The site's Technical Library section offers company position papers on industry technical and business issues, as well as service manuals, parts books, technical bulletins, warranty coverage plans, and product specs that can all be downloaded as Acrobat files. The Service Trax page can provide appropriate bulletins and service updates just by entering a product serial number, and there is also a site-wide search function if you still can't find the information you need.
Transmission Technologies Corp. (www.ttcautomotive.com) Although the product section of this site was still under construction at press time, it already offers some basic information about the company's Easy-Shift, Automated Mechanical, and AMT-7 truck transmission models. Other completed features include a locator for distributors, general company information, and contact lists for service literature and technical support.
INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONS & GOVERNMENT AGENCIES American Trucking Assns. (www.trucking.org) At press time, ATA was putting the finishing touches on a completely redesigned Web site. The new site will have a public information area and another area for association members only. The public pages should include legislative news of special interest to the trucking industry, as well as news from the various ATA councils and affiliated state associations.
National Private Truck Council (www.nptc.org) The National Private Truck Council (NPTC) shares a Web site with its non-profit education and research affiliate, the Private Fleet Management Institute (PFMI). The largely text site provides general information for the public about both organizations, including upcoming events, safety seminars, and PFMI's Certified Transportation Professional program, along with links to other sites of potential interest to fleets. A Members Only area includes a membership directory, the NPTC/ TIA Private Backhaul Network, NPTC's newsletter, and other information.
Truckload Carriers Assn. (www.truckload.org) Like many organizations, the TCA site features both a public and a Members Only area. Members have password access to the TCA newsletter, information about fuel prices, job postings, copies of TCA's comments to the federal government, and online discussions. Any visitor can access general information about TCA, including the Highway Angel and Professional Truck Drivers Institute programs, the events calendar, membership information, missing equipment postings, and e-mail.
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) (www.sae.org) The huge SAE Web site looks like it was designed by professional engineers. It is polished, organized, and easy to navigate, with a Table of Contents that stays visible on the left-hand edge of the screen. Visitors can browse through general information or zoom in on a long list of more specific material organized by Products and Publications, Conferences and Expositions, Calls for Papers, Events, Standards Development and Research, Continuing Education, Student Stuff, Career Resources, Discussion forums, and other Topic Areas such as globalization or intelligent vehicles. Pack a lunch and spend the day.
National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) (www.asecert.org) ASE's site features a user-friendly Table of Contents at the top-center of the Home Page. In addition to general information about ASE, including Team ASE Racing, there is a Tips for Motorists section. Numerous links to other industry Web sites are organized according to type of site, associations, automotive parts and accessories suppliers, career opportunities, etc. Also click on the Virtual Toolbox to see what promises to be an interesting resource when construction is finished - a resource especially for students interested in starting an automotive service career.
ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) America (www.itsa.org) Intelligent transportation is a hot topic for the trucking industry, and this site is a good one if you want to keep up with the various ITS issues from national tolls to "smart" routes and the status of TEA 21. An alphabetical pull-down menu of topics is designed to make it easier for visitors to find information. Current news bulletins appear on the first pages, but click over to the Press Room for more ITS news as well as links to related sites, staff contacts with names and phone numbers included, and information on the Year 2000 problem, value-pricing and other topics.
United States Department of Transportation (www.dot.gov) This is the epicenter of all transportation-related government sites, and it is designed to make it easy for visitors to find their way down the long electronic hallways to the right administration office. From the Home Page visitors can move directly to any operating administration of the DOT, from National Highway Traffic Safety to the Federal Highway Administration.
A Table of Contents is divided into "What's Hot @ DOT" and "DOT Services." Click on "Legislation and Regulation," for instance, and you'll find a clear table offering brief explanations of statutes, regulations, and orders. Head for the Library and click on Freight, then The Trucking Industry, for access to reports and studies on issues like driver fatigue, truck size and weight, and safety.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)(www.epa.gov) This huge government site offers something for all of its wide range of visitors, from kids and students, toconcerned citizens, researchers and scientists, small businesses, state and local officials, and industry. Click on Industry to get to information about regulations and legislation, doing business with the EPA, compliance assistance, business initiatives, enforcement data systems and models, publications, and the complete text of Industry Sector Notebooks - profiles containing information on selected major industrial groups.
Each Notebook is available in one or more electronic file formats for downloading. The Table of Contents alone is 36 pages, so head directly to the Profile of the Ground Transportation Industry, completed in 1997.