Industry news

Volvo Trucks N.A. and Mack Trucks, a member of the Volvo Group, announced they plan to use selective catalytic reduction to achieve 2010’s rigorous standards for emissions of nitrogen oxides. SCR involves injecting a water-based solution containing urea into the hot exhaust stream. The urea, in conjunction with a catalyst, breaks down the NOx into harmless nitrogen and water vapor.

Urea is a non-hazardous, organic compound commonly used in agriculture as a fertilizer.

Freightliner last year announced its engines supplied by other Daimler-Benz units, Detroit Diesel and Mercedes-Benz, will use SCR for 2010.

Volvo and Mack will include exhaust gas recirculation technology, introduced with the 2002 engines, to meet 2010 standards. They will also continue to use the diesel particulate filters that are being introduced with the 2007 engines.

Volvo will draw upon its extensive experience with SCR in Europe, where the technology is used to meet the Euro 4 emissions regulations. That experience includes more than 23 million test miles. Volvo Trucks N.A. has also had customer field tests of SCR-equipped trucks since 2003.

“Our experience shows that this is the best technology to reduce NOx emissions to extremely low levels, while delivering the fuel economy, reliability and performance our customers demand,” said Peter Karlsten, president and CEO of Volvo Trucks N.A.

The base engines for Mack’s 2010 models will be its MP series, which utilize what the company calls High-Performance EGR to meet current and 2007 NOx standards.

Mack President and CEO Paul Vikner says his company has been successfully running SCR systems since 2000, logging more than 2 million miles on 10 customer vehicles.
Max Heine

Big rig racer Mike Ryan walked away with the trophy and a new record of 12.43.66, three seconds off his previous record, at the 84th annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on July 1 in Colorado Springs, Colo. Ryan won in his hand-built 8,000-pound Freightliner Century Class S/T Super Truck, which has a 1,250-hp Mercedes Benz engine and a modified ZF 5-speed transmission.

American Truck Business Services announced its merger with The Alliance of Independent Trucking Professionals, an association of professionals providing education and services to owner-operators and company drivers.

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The combination creates the largest company dedicated to improving the profitability of owner-operators and company drivers. Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Kevin Rutherford, founding partner of The Alliance, will work with ATBS and will continue to make weekly appearances on the XM and Sirius satellite radio networks. ATBS will offer The Alliance’s Certified Master Contractor Program, an in-depth owner-operator seminar, along with its other training and consulting services.

Rutherford and ATBS executives have presented the Overdrive Partners in Business seminars at major truck shows and collaborated on the program’s comprehensive training manual. They will continue to work with the program, which is sponsored by Freightliner Trucks and Castrol.

“This merger continues to enhance our position as the premier provider of business services, educational products and seminars to the trucking industry,” said Todd Amen, ATBS president. “With Kevin, we have gained a valuable industry leader.”

The integration of the two companies’ operations and customer service organizations is under way. Alliance customers will enjoy additional services, including monthly business performance data, unlimited business consulting, quarterly tax estimate calculations and yearly review of taxes by a CPA.

A 12-person commission gathered June 26 in U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters in Washington, D.C., to talk about transport problems and how to fund solutions.

The National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, created by Congress in 2005 and meeting for only the second time, is examining the needs of the nation’s surface transportation system and coming up with alternatives to fuel taxes for highway funding. Its deadline for submitting recommendations: July 1, 2007.

“What we’re being asked to do is reform this system,” said Commissioner Rick Geddes, a Cornell University faculty member.

The challenges discussed included:

TRADE. Total U.S. trade (exports plus imports) doubled to $2.6 billion in the past 10 years, said trade analyst Praveen Dixit of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“More trade means more domestic freight movements in all forms of transportation,” said Jeffrey N. Shane, undersecretary of transportation for policy.

“We do not have a national freight policy, and it seems to me we ought to have one,” said Commissioner Steve Heminger, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

POPULATION GROWTH. This fall, the U.S. population will surpass 300 million, said Howard Hogan of the U.S. Census Bureau.

OIL. Transportation is overwhelmingly petroleum-dependent, more so than any other sector of the economy, and the current gap between domestic oil supply and domestic oil consumption will only grow, said forecaster John Conti of the U.S. Department of Energy.

“If we want to get serious about reducing oil imports, there’s a big bull’s-eye on the transportation sector,” Conti said.

He said that when calculating the economic benefits of alternative oil production – for example, the conversion of coal into oil – he sometimes assumes a 2030 oil price of $57 a barrel, sometimes of $96 a barrel. Asked what happens to his model when the price reaches $150 a barrel, Conti replied, “It breaks.”

Plaintiffs hoping to derail Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ plan to lease the Indiana Toll Road to a foreign consortium for $3.8 billion saw their efforts fail June 20.

The Indiana Supreme Court ordered the plaintiffs – the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana and seven individuals, including an owner-operator – to pay a $1.9 billion bond for the case to proceed, according to The Indianapolis Star. Plaintiffs say the order ended their lawsuit.

The 4-0 ruling came just 10 days before the 75-year deal between Indiana and Statewide Mobility Partners was finalized.

The $3.8 billion lease is part of the governor’s $10.6 billion Major Moves plan to pay for new road construction projects across the state. Daniels says the projects will lead to thousands of new jobs and new investments across the state.

The Citizens Action Coalition filed suit in March, charging that the Major Moves plan violated state law. Among several arguments, they said any proceeds from the sale of public utilities in Indiana must be used to pay public debt. Yet, a St. Joseph Superior Court judge ruled May 26 that the plan only leases – not sells – the toll road. The lower court first ordered the $1.9 billion bond to be paid for the court case to proceed.

State lawyers had argued that any delay in the lease could cost Indiana millions of dollars. Statewide Mobility Partners, a business owned by the Macquarie Infrastructure Group of Australia and Cintra Concesiones de Infraestructuras de Transporte S.A. of Spain, had the option of walking away from the lease deal if the June 30 closing seemed in peril.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association announced its support for a U.S. House bill that limits the amount truckers can be charged for the background check required to haul hazardous materials. The bill also directs the Transportation Security Administration to improve the efficiency of such checks to eliminate redundancy, lost time and driver income.

Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., introduced the Professional Driver Background Check Efficiency Act of 2006 (HR5560) that caps the amount professional drivers can be charged for the hazmat endorsement at $50 per individual. The legislation also stipulates that professional drivers who already have undergone background checks to receive the endorsement will not be subject to an additional check to receive a Transportation Worker Identification Credential card or be required to pay the corresponding fee of $105 to $139.

“We are very pleased with this common-sense piece of legislation,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president. “While professional truck drivers are among those who are most concerned with security in transportation, the scattershot approach to security taken so far has left them extremely frustrated.”

HR5560 also calls for a study and recommendations to Congress on ways to eliminate the redundancy and inefficiency of additional background checks for professional drivers required by other federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy.

“You can make the case that a driver should pay a reasonable fee to have a background check, but how many times should you be expected to pay that fee and additional ones that bureaucrats dream up?” Johnston asks.

Paccar and Cummins announced an agreement for the Cummins six- and eight-liter engines to be installed exclusively in Paccar’s medium-duty commercial vehicles. Paccar makes trucks under the Kenworth and Peterbilt brands and, in Europe, DAF.

The two companies are currently developing proprietary configurations for the engines, which will be branded as Paccar engines and placed in Peterbilt and Kenworth North American Class 6 and 7 trucks, beginning Jan. 1.

Peterbilt and Kenworth will continue to offer a choice of engines in their Class 8 vehicles.
Paccar President Tom Plimpton said the deal will enable Paccar to compete with truck makers that have their own proprietary medium-duty engines and will reduce the cost of approving multiple 2007-compliant engines for their chassis.

The Cummins 4- and 6-liter engines already are exclusive in the DAF LF product, the leading light-duty commercial vehicle in the United Kingdom that has approximately 10 percent of the European market.

Paccar has approximately 10 percent of the North American medium-duty market.

To meet the new API CJ-4 oil specifications for the 2007 diesel engines, Chevron, Citgo, ExxonMobil and Shell have introduced reformulated oils compatible with old and new engines.

Chevron will begin offering in October an API CJ-4 and an API CI-4 Plus version, including Delo, Ursa and RPM. The products exceed the standards for oxidation control, piston deposit control, oil consumption control and wear control for valve-train, bearing and ring-liners.
Citgo’s new Citgard 700, offered as a synthetic blend in a 15W-40 viscosity grade, will be introduced before Oct. 15 and will be available in bulk and drum packaging.

Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 exceeds requirements for soot control, wear protection, oil consumption and deposit control. It delivers significant performance enhancements compared to API CI-4 PLUS technology. The new formulation will be available in October.

Shell’s reformulated oil, marketed as Rotella T with Triple Protection, handles higher engine temperatures and higher levels of soot while using detergent packages that rely on less phosphorus, sulfated ash and sulfur. The product also increases the durability of the diesel particulate filters that will be part of the new engines. It is available for bulk and drums purchases and will be available in quart, gallon or pail containers by Oct. 15.

Georgia now allows private companies to propose road-building projects, invest in them and reap revenue from them in the form of tolls, including truck-only toll lanes. One such project is in the works for Atlanta; the state is soliciting bids on a second.

The latest proposal is by investment bank Goldman Sachs & Co., law firm McGuireWoods LLP and engineering firm Post Buckley Schuh and Jernigan Inc. The proposal would finance and design two truck-only toll lanes in each direction along the northwest quadrant of I-285. This part of the Atlanta bypass is traveled by 20,000 heavy trucks per weekday, the companies said.

The project also would extend westward on I-20 to Thornton Road, with one truck-only toll lane in each direction.

The proposal was submitted to the Georgia DOT in May under the state’s new law allowing public-private road initiatives. It allows the DOT to evaluate unsolicited proposals from businesses interested in entering the road-building business, thus enabling roads to be built more speedily and with less cost to taxpayers.

The newly proposed lanes would connect with another proposed project, an expansion of I-75 north through Cobb and Cherokee counties. A private group called Georgia Transportation Partners, led by Bechtel Infrastructure Corp. and Kiewit Southern Co., won a $38.5 million contract to begin work on that project in May. The two projects, if accepted, are expected to be completed in 2014.

According to Vicki Gavalas, director of communications for the Georgia DOT, an advisory committee has decided the Goldman Sachs proposal meets its qualifications. The proposal has now been made public, and competitive bids are being accepted.

Out-of-service orders improved for trucks, but not drivers, during the 2006 Roadcheck conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Vehicles placed out of service during the June 6-8 enforcement blitz decreased to 21.7 percent this year from 22.5 percent in 2005. The number of hazmat trucks parked also declined to 18.2 percent from 19.3 percent in 2005.

“ATA is pleased to see that the safety of the nation’s truck fleet continues to improve,” said American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves.

However, the number of drivers placed out of service increased to 5.6 percent in 2006 from 4.4 percent in 2005. ATA attributed the increase to changes in the hours-of-service regulations and drivers’ uncertainty over compliance.

Also, 1,223 drivers were cited for not wearing safety belts, compared with 1,150 last year. This represents 2 percent of all drivers inspected and checked for compliance.

The 2006 Roadcheck involved 1,850 highway inspection stations and 8,522 inspectors patrolling the highways for 72 hours.

A partnership amoung the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, UPS, Eaton Corp. and other companies has produced what EPA calls the “most fuel-efficient and cost-effective delivery vehicle in the world.”

The EPA described the truck as the first of its kind to use the agency-patented hydraulic hybrid technology. This increases fuel efficiency by 60 percent to 70 percent in urban driving and lowers greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent compared to conventional UPS diesel delivery trucks.

The technology could improve fuel economy not only for delivery trucks, but also for shuttle and transit buses and refuse pickup.

Using these trucks could save more than 1,000 gallons of fuel per truck annually, with a net savings of more than $50,000 over the vehicle’s lifetime, EPA says. The agency estimates up-front costs for the hybrid components could be recouped in less than three years for a delivery vehicle.

The truck uses a hydraulic hybrid power train and hybrid propulsion system integrated with the drive axle. Hydraulic motors and tanks are used to store energy instead of the electric motors and batteries used in other electric hybrid vehicles. Energy is saved when the brakes are applied and reused to help accelerate.

Other project partners are International Truck and Engine Corp., U.S. Army National Automotive Center and Morgan-Olson.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed comments with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration supporting the elimination of the waiver process required for insulin-dependent truckers who want to drive interstate.

In March, the FMCSA asked for comments on a proposal to change the medical qualifications for insulin dependents operating commercial vehicles interstate.

OOIDA says it has long supported the position that diabetes should not “patently disqualify” interstate driving.

The federal transportation bill passed in 2005 did away with the requirement that insulin-treated drivers show safe operation of a commercial vehicle for three years. OOIDA believes more changes should be made.

“Those changes

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