Industry news

| December 12, 2008

Freightliner’s Class 8 factories expect a decrease as high as 50 percent in 2007 output, said Roger Nielsen, Freightliner’s chief operating officer. His remarks came at the 15th annual Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association breakfast at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

That anticipated drop will come on the heels of two banner years in North American Class 8 truck sales: 310,000 trucks sold in 2005 and a projected 315,000 sold in 2006.

Those record sales have been prompted by a strong economy and customers’ desire to avoid pricey 2007 low-emissions engines, which Freightliner expects will run between $7,000 and $10,000 for heavy-duty models, $4,500 to $6,000 for medium-duty trucks. But as long as the economy continues moderate growth and fuel prices don’t spike to post-Katrina levels, “we think by 2008 normal market conditions will prevail,” Nielsen said.

Also at MATS, Chris Patterson, Freightliner president and CEO, said the company plans to introduce a completely new Class 8 truck at the 2007 show, one that “ultimately will replace many models on display today.”

Saying Freightliner’s preparations for meeting the ’07 emissions regulations represent “more investment, resources, testing and preparation than we’ve ever put into a component launch,” Patterson announced that Detroit Diesel’s Series 60, MBE 4000 and MBE 900 diesel engines will be ready for the road in January.

“That man saved my life,” said Leesburg, Ga., trucker Herman Langford about Douglas Crawford, named the 23rd Goodyear North America Highway Hero at the Truck Writers of North America awards banquet at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

Crawford, a Saia Motor Freight driver from Ashford, Ala., was southbound on Interstate 85 in Georgia when he saw an 18-wheeler cross the median and hit Langford’s rig.

Crawford dodged swerving cars, parked his truck on the shoulder, grabbed his fire extinguisher and ran to the wrecked trucks. He saw the cab of the runaway had disintegrated in flames.

“I knew nobody could survive that,” Crawford said, so he ran to Langford’s burning truck and put out the blaze. It had destroyed the back wall of the sleeper, so Crawford walked in and found Langford conscious, unable to move and soaked with diesel fuel.

“I heard the truck hissing and popping, and I told him, ‘We got to get out of here,’” Crawford said. “He grabbed hold of me, and I carried him out.” Just moments after they got to safety, the truck exploded.

For his heroism, Crawford was awarded a $10,000 U.S. Savings Bond, a custom-designed Goodyear Highway Hero ring and a commemorative plaque.

Highway Hero finalists were:

  • Michael Knott, a FedEx Ground driver from Casselberry, Fla., who rescued a mother and her child who lay helpless on the Florida Turnpike after being struck by a car.
  • Robert Starr, a state senator and owner-operator from North Troy, Vt., who saved a woman from a burning car.
  • Danny Wallen, an ABF Freight Systems driver from Conover, Ohio, who saved a couple from a burning car.

“In our eyes, they are all heroes,” said Peter Christoffersen of Goodyear Commercial Tire Systems.

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