| November 01, 2009


House extends funding

Senate, along with a separate Senate bill that would extend the authorization for highway spending for 18 months, as well.

Senate leaders and the Obama administration have backed an 18-month extension mostly on the grounds that it will give Congress ample time to consider long-term changes in highway programs, including financing. But House transportation leaders, led by House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee James Oberstar, D-Minn., are resisting that idea, saying Congress should not wait so long to deal with vital infrastructure and safety challenges.

Oberstar and other House transportation leaders have drafted a full six-year bill that would make significant changes in highway programs, including a mandate for electronic onboard recorders and creation of a clearinghouse of positive drug and alcohol test results. An extension of only three months maintains pressure for Congress to address the highway authorization again in some way before year-end.

— Jill Dunn


Daimler execs detail difficult market

Andreas Renschler, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, parent company of Daimler Trucks North America, painted a dark picture of the truck market amid the economic turmoil of the past two years.

“We are used to typical business cycles in the truck market, but this time the so-called downside is longer and deeper than ever before,” he said at an Oct. 7 speech in New York.

He cited a 50 percent decline in the worldwide market for trucks, with close to a 70 percent downturn since 2006 for North America.

And while both he and new DTNA President and CEO Martin Daum insisted that markets around the world had hit bottom in the second quarter, “It remains to be seen if [a recovery] is really sustainable,” Renschler said. “No company anywhere has been immune.”

He said a 9 percent increase in North American orders from July to August was evidence “our countermeasures are working.” Cash flow, meanwhile, remains positive, and the two Daimler executives predicted a 10 percent gain in orders in 2010 over 2009.

Daum said strategies in North America include a focus on operational excellence and efficiency, starting with more flexibility in U.S. plant capacity. That will include shifting workers from a hire/fire model to time banks, prevalent in Europe, to keep pay coming at a consistent rate in down production times.

— Todd Dills


Short Hauls

NAVISTAR displayed an all-electric commercial truck built with the help of a $39 million U.S. Department of Energy grant. The trucks are designed for maximum efficiency in urban environments. Navistar says it intends to build 400 all-electric delivery trucks in 2010 at its facility in Elkhart County, Ind., and expects within a few years to be producing several thousand vehicles annually as the market grows.

IN OAKLAND, Calif., the Board of Port Commissioners has adopted a strict truck ban, effective Jan. 1, 2010. Drayage trucks with engine year models earlier than 1994 will be banned at the Port of Oakland, and drayage trucks with engine year models between 1994 and 2003 have to be retrofitted with diesel particulate filters to enter port facilities.

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