Freightliner’s bold introduction of a new cabover, the Argosy, at the Mid-America Trucking Show doesn’t seem that long ago. It was, in fact, eight years ago, when the
U.S. market for cabovers had shrunk to 3 percent or less of domestic Class 8 sales, from 40 percent in 1982.
Freightliner had something else to say about cabovers at this year’s Mid-America. It was just a tidbit, sandwiched among many more important comments by company officials: Freightliner will quit producing the Argosy for the U.S. market, though foreign sales will continue.
That means no one will be making cabovers for domestic over-the-road applications. We’ll still see blunt-nosed tractors on the road for many years to come, but knowing that on-highway cabovers are going the way of the two-lever gear shift touches a soft spot because the design holds a unique place in America’s trucking heritage.
At the same time, we should be encouraged to know this industry doesn’t sit still on technology. You and other customers have benefited.
How well manufacturers respond to market conditions was obvious at Mid-America. More truck makers are talking about including idle-reduction technology. Truck and engine makers are not only meeting 2007 emissions requirements, but they are producing more fuel-efficient, dependable systems. Every truck maker has at least one classy aerodynamic truck in its arsenal, providing a way to save mega-bucks on fuel.
If fuel prices keep climbing, you can count on seeing more changes in design and technology, and at a faster pace. There’s no telling what we’ll hear next year in Louisville.
–Brad Holthaus, Publisher