News From The Industry

| December 12, 2008

WHAT WOULD YOU ORDER FOR YOUR DREAM TRUCK? Check the latest offerings for the leading owner-operator over-the-road and vocational trucks, as well as the engines, transmissions, tires and trailers to go with them, in’s February Monthly Focus.


In most years, fleets experience a significant drop in freight tonnage from December to January, but freight hasn’t fallen off as much as usual this winter, say some leading carriers.

Schneider National’s Scott Arves told analysts on a Credit Suisse First Boston teleconference that he hasn’t experienced such a small drop-off in freight in the past 10 or 11 years. “We’re seeing solid freight across all segments we service,” he said. “It’s not just retail replenishment.”

Arves and David Parker, head of Covenant Transportation, attributed the freight climate to capacity shortfalls, improved economic conditions and low inventories, among other reasons.

“I’m very, very surprised at how strong the freight has stayed in January,” Arves said. “It’s extremely robust freight.”

Tom Kretsinger Jr., executive vice president for American Central Transport, said his company’s freight has remained strong as well. “It hasn’t tapered off like we expected,” he said.

December shipments and freight expenditures declined slightly over November, according to Cass Information Systems, a company that processes more than $8 billion in annual freight payables.

Other economic indicators showed strong growth in manufacturing. The National Association of Manufacturers predicted Jan. 15 that manufacturing output would increase by 6.1 percent this year, up dramatically from 2003′s 1.4 percent.

The Truck Tonnage Index, compiled by the American Trucking Associations, has been climbing slightly since its drop-off in mid-2000.

- Sean Kelley


With three years left before another round of major emissions hurdles go into effect, several engine makers ruled out at least one technology – selective catalytic reduction – from the 2007 versions of their heavy-duty products.

Caterpillar, Cummins and International Truck and Engine Corp. say they will meet the stricter Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards without relying on SCR. The aftertreatment technology requires ammonia-based urea to be injected into the exhaust to decrease the nitrogen oxide emissions. SCR has been widely discussed in the industry as a potential technology for meeting the 2007 standards and has been used in Europe to meet similar tough standards.

EPA wants diesel engine manufacturers to cut in half the amount of NOx they produce by 2007; further cuts will be imposed in 2010. International, Cummins, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Volvo and Mack had to reduce their NOx emissions to 2.5 grams in 2002 as part of a legal settlement. Mercedes-Benz met the same standard by Jan. 1, 2004. But the lower level that manufacturers must meet in 2007, 1.2 grams – along with a lower level of particulate emissions – can be met without resorting to SCR, International, Caterpillar and Cummins say.

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