An industry in transition

Linda Longton | August 01, 2010

Truck makers share thoughts on top issues

What is the biggest challenge facing the trucking industry over the next five years?

Martin Daum, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America

Our industry must reduce the Co2 footprint at a price our customer can afford. The additional cost must be lower than what our customer will experience once they realize their fuel savings. We must also find the least harmful way to reduce Co2 for our customers. — Martin Daum

Trucks are getting more expensive as a result of emission standards. We continue to work on providing our customers the lowest cost of ownership to keep them competitive. — Bill Kozak

There must be sustained profitability throughout the supply chain to fund the huge investments made to meet new emissions and other regulations. Society has benefited greatly from these changes, but our industry has been denied fair recovery of its costs due to the accelerated cycle of regulatory change.– Kevin Flaherty

Bill Kozak, general manager, Kenworth Truck Company

Fleets are continually trying to improve their operating cost per mile. A vehicle’s fluid consumption – diesel fuel as well as diesel exhaust fluid – and the significant fluctuations in the prices of these fluids, are among the biggest drivers of fleets’ operating costs. A vehicle’s “fluid economy” is driving customers to demand more efficient vehicles.– Jack Allen

We see three primary challenges: Increasing legislation and regulations, the expanded use of technology and telematics to control vehicle performance, and our ability to respond to rising fuel prices with improved fuel efficiency.– Bill Jackson

Customers’ ability to absorb and implement new technologies – emissions, electronic onboard recorders, alternative fuels and hybrids – is an ongoing challenge. Trucking companies must attract or develop the necessary competence to implement and manage these technologies. — Ron Huibers

How are distribution patterns and supply chain trends affecting your products and customers’ spec’ing choices?

Kevin Flaherty, senior vice president, sales and marketing, Mack Trucks

Increased regional and intermodal hauling is driving specs toward day cabs with smaller displacement engines. Equipment acquisition costs for heavy- and medium-duty trucks have also risen faster (due to EPA requirements) than freight revenues, forcing fleets to reduce acquisition costs and improve productivity by reducing sleeper or engine sizes while increasing payload capacity.– Martin Daum

We continue to work very closely with our suppliers to provide the best value and performance to our mutual customers. Communication is key in today’s environment.– Bill Kozak

Our customers and their customers – shippers and receivers – continue to refine and innovate with packaging to deliver more product in fewer trucks. This may contribute to a new look at truck size and weight regulations. Changes in shipping routes, such as more hub and spoke operations, could also contribute to this.– Kevin Flaherty 

Jack Allen,president, Navistar North American Truck Group

Customers are increasingly weight-conscious. More productive loads and optimized routes will mean more money in their pocket. They are looking for trucks and engines that have similar power and capabilities but that are lower weight. Fuel prices are also reshaping the industry, fueling growth in intermodal transportation. A shift to shorter, regional routes is prompting growth in Class 8 day cabs.– Jack Allen strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.