Sales programs introduced

Organizers say the show drew 76,500 participants, including exhibitors. That’s virtually the same as last year, and a good turnout considering that it’s hard for financially strapped owner-operators to take time away from work.

Kenworth General Manager Ed Caudill said he doesn’t expect the used truck market to recover for two years. “My customers ask me, ‘Why would I buy a new truck when I am able to buy a 2000 model for half the price of a new truck?’ We expect to hear more of that,” Caudill said.

Many fleets and owner-operators are extending their trade cycles to cope, and even recent cuts in interest rates won’t help truck sales for months, said Nick Panza, general manager of Peterbilt.

On the other hand, Panza said, the company’s used truck inventory is the lowest it has been since 1999, and there are some signs the industry is at the bottom of the economic downturn. He expects freight volume to grow 2 percent to 3 percent this year. Caudill estimates 1 percent to 2 percent growth.

Caudill forecasts sales of 130,000 to 150,000 units for the year. Freightliner President Jim Hebe predicted sales of 100,000 to 110,000 trucks.

International Truck and Engine Corp. announced a program that gives buyers a choice of a rebate option to increase their trade-in value or lower interest rates.

Hebe also introduced sales incentives.

A new Freightliner finance operation, FASTruck, is dedicated to financing trucks for first-time buyers who do not fit the typical borrowing profile of finance companies.

The second initiative is to open a network of used truck retail remarketing centers to counteract auction sales.

Third, Freightliner’s finance arm, Mercedes-Benz Credit Corp., will allow higher loan amounts for established buyers.

The fourth initiative is the creation of new purchase programs for used truck buyers, Power to Succeed and SelectOne.

Freightliner plans to expand its used truck refurbishing operation in Utah. The company also will expand its SelecTrucks network from 36 North American locations to 60 by March.

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