May 2002

LOW-EMISSION ENGINES DOMINATE MID-AMERICA TRUCKING SHOW

The federally mandated low-emission diesel engines that go on the market in October were the talk of this year’s Mid-America Trucking Show, March 21-23 in Louisville, Ky.

All engine makers but one will cut emissions by recirculating cooled exhaust, using a technology called EGR. The holdout is Caterpillar, which announced at Mid-America that its new engines nevertheless will be certified to operate in every state come October, even though it will likely mean government fines. “We’re going to have a product there, and it will be competitively priced,” said James J. Parker, Caterpillar vice president of engine products.

To settle an emissions lawsuit filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, six diesel engine makers – Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International, Mack and Volvo – agreed in 1998 to produce lower-emission diesel engines by Oct. 1 of this year. The new engines are expected to run hotter, be more complicated and more expensive, and dump more combustion byproducts such as soot into the engine oil.

Caterpillar announced in 2001 that it was scrapping its EGR research and going with a different technology, ACERT, which uses Caterpillar’s high-tech electronics and fuel-injection system. ACERT won’t be fully ready, however, until April 2003.

The Cummins ISX, which uses EGR technology, is the first heavy-duty diesel engine to be EPA-certified for Oct. 1 production, the company announced shortly after Mid-America. By Oct. 1, the ISX will have more than 6 million miles of on-highway vehicle field-testing and 115,000 hours of laboratory tests, Cummins said.

One ongoing concern about EGR engines is the increased cooling capacity required, since hot exhaust will be going back into the engine rather than out. Peterbilt unveiled at Mid-America a new cooling system designed for EGR engines. The system has more cooling capacity than current radiators yet is up to 80 pounds lighter, said Dan Sobic, Peterbilt assistant general manager.

Volvo announced at Mid-America that its EGR engines will circulate exhaust with a unique feature called V-Pulse. Frank Bio, director of marketing for Volvo Power, said V-Pulse eliminates the need for a variable-geometry turbo and helps fuel economy.

Mack announced two different EGR technologies, one for highway use and one for vocational trucks. The vocational engines allow some exhaust to remain in the cylinders from one combustion cycle to another, providing consistent performance in harsh environments and stop-and-go situations, the company said.

A question much on the mind of Mid-America exhibitors was whether there will be a rush to buy used and new trucks before Oct. 1 to avoid the higher prices and uncertainties associated with the new engines. Speaking at the annual Heavy-Duty Truck Manufacturers Association breakfast, Mack President and CEO Paul Vikner said the industry can’t accommodate a major new truck buying spree.

Nor can the used truck market meet the demand, he said. “Those carriers considering used power as an alternative to the ’02 engines have to ask themselves: How many late-model, low-mileage tractors with my specs are out there? How reliable will that 3- or 4-year-old vehicle be with another 100,000 miles on it?”

– Sean Kelley and John Latta


OVERDRIVE NEWS NOW ON XM RADIO, NEMO NETWORK

XM Satellite Radio subscribers can now hear Overdrive Trucking News on the Open Road truckers’ channel, Channel 168. Also, OTN and the Overdrive Top Ten Countdown are now carried on the Dave Nemo Radio Network. OTN is a three-minute daily broadcast with host Larry Shannon. The show covers legislative issues, news analysis and human-interest stories.

In addition to XM Satellite Radio, OTN is heard on nearly 200 traditional stations.

The Open Road channel features veteran trucking-radio personalities Bill Mack, Dave Nemo and Dale “Truckin’ Bozo” Sommers, as well as daily NASCAR news.

XM offers 71 music channels, 13 news channels and various entertainment channels. For more information, visit www.xmradio.com.

– Andy Duncan


CORONADO GOING BACK INTO PRODUCTION

Calling the Coronado “the most beautiful truck Freightliner has ever built,” Freightliner’s Mark Lampert announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show that the company will resume production of the truck in June.

Combining retro and contemporary styling, the long-hood, 132-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab Coronado features a set-forward front axle, dual cab-mounted stacks and bolt-on fenders. It is available with Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar engines of up to 600 hp and comes in 70-inch raised roof and 70-inch mid-roof XT sleeper configurations. A daycab version is also available.

The interior offers a choice of padded cloth or vinyl upholstery on the seats and distressed leather cloth on the walls, headliner and door panel. Oregon burl wood accents the dashboard, doors, overhead consoles and modular cabinetry.

Freightliner introduced the Coronado in late 2000, just before the “bottom fell out of the owner-operator market,” said Lampert, senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Freightliner also unveiled a Century Class daycab reconfigured from a Century Class sleeper cab. The roof is about 9 inches higher and the cab about 10 inches longer than typical models. The daycabs are reconfigured at Freightliner’s Tooele, Utah, used-truck refurbishing factory.

– Linda Longton

SUPERRIGS CONTEST OFFERING $20,000

Drivers nationwide are invited to enter their working trucks in the 20th anniversary Rotella SuperRigs Truck Beauty Contest, June 6-8 at the TravelCenters of America East in Ontario, Calif.

Truckers will compete for $20,000 in cash and prizes and a spot in the 2003 Rotella SuperRigs Calendar. The three categories are Tractor, Tractor-Trailer Combination and Classic. The top 18 rigs receive awards, and every contestant receives a gift package including a hat, a T-shirt and Shell Rotella products.

Judges include radio personalities Dave Nemo and Eric Harley, as well as Sean Kelley, contributing editor of Overdrive.

Drivers can register on arrival. There is no entry fee, and drivers need not be present to win. For more information, visit www.rotella.com/events.shtml.

– Andy Duncan


PETERBILT BOOSTING TRUCK PRODUCTION

Orders for new Peterbilts are up, and the company plans to increase production as much as 20 percent, said Nick Panza, Peterbilt general manager.

“Truck orders are up 46 percent over last year,” Panza said at the Mid-American Trucking Show.

Even so, the climate for new truck sales faces significant challenges, Panza said. Financing, used truck values, insurance costs, freight volume and carrier stability all threaten the health of the Class 8 market, he said.

Peterbilt estimates overall North American Class 8 truck sales will drop by about 13,000 units in 2002, down from 158,000 in 2001 and 293,000 in the peak year of 1999.

Roger Nielsen, Freightliner chief operating officer, told Mid-America attendees he expects the Class 8 market to sell between 150,000 and 160,000 vehicles this year. But truck manufacturing won’t fully rebound until the second quarter of 2003, Nielsen said.

– Sean Kelley and Linda Longton


COVENANT TRAINER NAMED GOODYEAR HIGHWAY HERO

Larry “Scott” Travis, who saved a woman’s life by pulling her from a burning vehicle, won the 2001 Goodyear Highway Hero award.

Travis, a master trainer for Covenant Transportation in Chattanooga, Tenn., received a $10,000 savings bond and a diamond ring at a presentation at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Travis was traveling near Sheridan, Ark., Aug. 7, 2001, when he saw flames coming from a sport utility vehicle that had run into a deep ditch. After pulling the driver from the vehicle, he struggled to pull her through the high overgrowth and was burned repeatedly as he was showered with flame and ash. Just seconds after Travis rescued the woman, the vehicle exploded.

Goodyear also presented four finalists for the award:

  • William Clark, a driver for Frito-Lay, who kicked in the windshield of a burning truck to rescue the driver.
  • Bill John and Bryan Effle, drivers for Ruan Transportation, who rescued a teenage boy who had been ejected from his car and was lying in a ditch filled with water.
  • Oscar Gonzalez, a driver for Averitt Express, who rescued a 6-year-old girl from a burning pickup truck and moved four victims away from another vehicle.
  • To nominate a trucker for the 2002 Goodyear Highway Hero Award, visit www.goodyear.com/truck.

    – Staff Reports


    SPEEDING, TAILGATING BLAMED IN I-75 PILEUP

    More than 125 vehicles, including 21 tractor-trailers, were involved in a chain-reaction pileup March 14 on I-75 near Cartersville, Ga.

    Five people were killed, and the state Insurance Commission estimated the property damage at $4.5 million. Troopers initially blamed the wrecks on heavy fog, speeding and tailgating, but the investigation could take months. Blood samples were taken at the scene from 87 drivers.

    Owner-operator Tony Provancher of Rossville, Ga., who was not involved in the wreck, calls speeding and tailgating epidemic between Cartersville and Chattanooga and says they’re inexcusable given the frequency of sudden, heavy fog on that road.

    “I have been driving a truck for 20 years and, honestly, I get nervous sometimes when I drive that stretch,” Provancher says. “For some reason, the speed limits are widely ignored in this area, and the third-lane violations that could be written are phenomenal. I am ashamed of some of those truck drivers.”

    Syndicated Atlanta talk-radio host Neal Boortz puts much of the blame on truckers. “It seems like every other vehicle on this stretch of interstate is an 18-wheeler, and let me tell you, they drive like absolute maniacs there,” Boortz writes on his website, www.boortz.com. “I’ve had trucks near Dalton, Ga., actually try to get me to hit them. It is no surprise at all to see so many tractor-trailer rigs in the pictures of this accident scene.”

    Trucker Chris Black disagrees. “I think his views of the accident are out of line, but not an uncommon view the general public has about big rigs,” Black says.

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration fined two truckers who were in the pileup: Carl D. Carter of Newburgh, Ind., $5,000 for falsifying a log book, and Robert Carl Branch of Anderson, S.C., $1,000 for falsifying a log book and speeding. Carter’s rig lay across the northbound lanes at the head of the pileup.

    “Any driver of a truck who was in this mess should not have been,” Provancher says. “We are supposed to set the examples out there. Believe me, drivers of cars watch the truck drivers. If the trucks are hammer down, they think it’s safe to do so, too.”

    – Andy Duncan


    R.J. Matthews of Lewisville, Texas, a 4-year-old with sickle cell anemia, has always wanted to be truck driver, so the Make-a-Wish Foundation put him in the cab for a day with veteran Domino’s driver Doug Doster. R.J. also got a pepperoni pizza and a toy truck.

    OWNER-OPERATORS GET BUSINESS HELP AT CHEVRON SEMINAR

    How owner-operators can improve their business and profits was a topic at Chevron Delo’s first Matters luncheon seminar at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

    Owner-operator Kevin Rutherford, president of Whiteline Business Services in Orlando, Fla., told nearly 200 attendees the four steps to making life as an owner-operator easier: Set goals, know your cost per mile, cut costs and manage cash flow.

    “You don’t hop in a truck and drive without knowing where you’re going,” Rutherford said. “You can’t do that with your business, either.”

    Chevron representatives shared information on new oil formulations developed to comply with API CI-4 requirements. These oils are designed for engines equipped with exhaust gas recirculation.

    – Staff Reports


    ROTELLA T PERFORMS IN OUTBACK TRAIN RIDE

    Imagine hauling four trailers making up a 174-foot, 200,000-pound road train. The temperature is 115 degrees. Your 650-hp engine is getting about 2 mpg, and you’ve got a long way to go. Your engine oil had better be ready to work overtime.

    It’s severe service at its worst, and that’s why the folks at Shell chose the Australian Outback to test Rotella T motor oil. Actually, Shell wanted to test its oil in exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) engines, but there were none available.

    “So we chose an environment that’s even harder on oil,” said Peter Van Benthuysen, field testing coordinator, at the Mid-America Trucking Show. “The high-temperature, high-soot, high-fuel-consumption environment was about as tough as they come.” Rotella T came through with flying colors, Van Benthuysen said.

    Rotella T was one of the first oils to earn the new API CI-4 certification for use in EGR engines, scheduled to debut in October.


    SHORT HAULS

    The Great American Trucking Show has a new website at www.gatsonline.com. Registration for the Sept. 6-8 show in Dallas is free until Aug. 30, and those who register online are eligible for prizes.

    J.B. Hunt’s Chairman, Wayne Garrison, made $11 million from stock options in 2001, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company’s net earnings for the year were $32 million.

    Recent $1,000 winners in the weekly Money for Miles Sweepstakes at eTrucker.com include Keith Chance of Huntsville, Ala.; David Ficklin of Dallas; Patricia McMahon of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Randy Platt of Eddington, Maine; and Tracy Neil Tucker of Richland, Wash. Each week through the end of May, one registered user of the site will win $1,000.

    Greg Harris of Washington, Ind., won the $5,000 Proud American Sweepstakes, sponsored by Randall Trucking Media for attendees of the Mid-American Trucking Show.

    Michelin received top ratings for tire value, wearability/tread life and overall satisfaction in the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study. The announcement was made at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

    Cannon Express, a truckload carrier based in Springdale, Ark., cut 50 non-driver jobs, or 25 percent of its non-driving work force – including an executive vice president – while President Dean Cannon pledged to forego his salary for at least three months. The company lost $7.3 million in 2001, compared to a $520,000 profit the year before, and the IRS says it owes $6 million in back taxes.

    Diesel tax revenue in Oklahoma will be used to pay for weather research and bioterrorism research. Signed into law by Gov. Frank Keating, the bill funnels $38 million from the Underground Tank Fund to the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.

    PATT and CRASH – Parents Against Tired Truckers and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways – will share office space and an executive director in the nation’s capital as PATT co-founders Daphne and Steve Izer of Lisbon Falls, Maine, give up day-to-day control of the organization.

    SmartStop Internet kiosks can be used for free May 6-12 and will be set up for easily e-mailed Mother’s Day (May 12) greetings. The promotion is available at Petro,
    Rip Griffin, Wilco and other truck stops with SmartStop terminals.

    Pennzoil-Quaker State will be bought by Shell Oil for $1.8 billion in a deal that also gives Shell ownership of the Jiffy Lube oil-change chain.

    Sentenced to 18 months in prison was Tony Puleo, who admitted accepting bribes to fix more than 1,000 CDL tests at a Tampa, Fla., driving school. Many of the unqualified drivers were non-English-speaking Eastern European immigrants living in the Chicago area. Florida closed the REACT school in 2000.

    Quick Fuel Fleet Services now offers truck-to-truck refueling at its automated facility in Brook Park, Ohio, outside Cleveland.

    Salt Lake City Mack has acquired the local Volvo truck dealership. The merged operation is named Mountain West Truck Center, with Mack and Volvo sales, service and parts at 1475 W. 2100 South and the body shop at 2795 S. 300 West.

    Thermo King of Nevada is open in North Las Vegas, five miles from the Strip. The 5,000-square-foot facility on two acres with a 50-trailer lot is a temporary home, as the dealership plans to move into a larger space within two years.

    The Sioux City stockyards in Iowa, once the world’s largest stockyard but, like others, a victim of reefer fleets, interstates and corporate ranching, closed April 1 after more than a century in business. A Home Depot will be built on the acreage.

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