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: