Mid-America roundup: Concept truck, driver hero, OEM updates top 2014 show

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Updated Apr 1, 2015

wave-3Though lighter than usual on major announcements, the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., last week still produced some highlights. Below is a roundup of some of the noteworthy and popular items from the show. Click here to see all of Overdrive‘s coverage of the show.

Concept truck: Walmart, Peterbilt, Great Dane formally introduced a concept truck that takes aerodynamic stylings to an extreme. However, what’s under the truck’s hood — if it can be called that — isn’t your conventional engine, either: It’s powered by a fuel-neutral turbine engine that can run on diesel, gasoline, natural gas, DME, hydrogen and a bevy of other fuel sources. The truck hasn’t been track tested yet, so fuel economy data hasn’t been produced yet. Click here to see more on the truck, along with a photo gallery and a video.

FMCSA deactivating authority: FMCSA’s Jeff Loftus said in a seminar at the show that the agency has started deactivating the authority of carriers who are not updating by deadline their information in the agency’s new Unified Registration System. Failure to update biannually, Loftus said, can also result in fines. Click here to read more from the agency’s “hot topics” session.

Driver treatment’s effects on self-image: The Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association’s Todd Spencer — in unveiling a new industry and driver image campaign, Trucking Moves America Forward — noted that while it’s imperative for the public and lawmakers to understand truck drivers’ roles in the U.S. economy, it’s also key for drivers to have a better view of themselves, and that starts with how carriers treat drivers. Spencer said driver pay and pushing for better treatment by shippers and receivers are two major factors there. Click here to read more on Spencer’s remarks.

More ideas for New Entrants: In its second listening session held on the subject, FMCSA reps, including Administrator Anne Ferro, heard public comment from owner-operators and other industry representatives at the show. The New Entrant rule, as its being dubbed, would add another step in gaining operating authority by implementing some additional training and testing requirements. The agency has been tasked by Congress to create the rule, and part of its job there is to gather public input. The first session was held in January. Click here to read more on what was said at the listening session.

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Show trucks: The weather bounced around a bit at the show, ranging from episodes of snowy and cold to a bit hot and humid, capped by a rainy final day. Still, dozens of show trucks turned out to compete. Click here to see a gallery of some of the trucks on the lot, and click here to see a collection of both show trucks and other trucks at the show.

Western Star’s Optimus Prime: In the new Transformers movie being released this year, Optimus Prime has planted himself in a Western Star 4900, and the actual truck from the movie was on display at Daimler’s booth at the show. Click here to see a photo gallery of the truck and its interior. 

Trucker hero: Goodyear named Ivan Vasovic as its 2014 Highway Hero for Vasovic’s heroic actions in saving a fellow driver from a fire and a crash in which the other driver’s rig was about to fall from a bridge. Vasovic in October of last year saw a double tanker hit a concrete driver, slam into a guard rail and come to rest hanging over the side of  an overpass. Diesel was leaking everywhere and caught fire. Vasovic saved the man by dragging him through the fire. Click here to read more on Vasovic’s story.

Owner-operator’s new Firestone-branded rig: To end a months-long contest, Firestone gave away a Peterbilt 589 that’s highly customized with a Firestone-branded theme. Peterson, a Wellington, Colo., resident, said he’s going to use the truck to haul equipment. Click here to read more on the giveaway.

Tony Justice jam session: Driver and singer-songwriter Tony Justice played a live acoustic set at the TA Petro booth at the show, performing “Trick My Truck,” from his first record, and Charlie Daniels’ “Simple Man”. Click here to see video of Justice’s performance.

Peterbilt’s anniversary 579: In addition to a new fuel economy package, Peterbilt announced it’s celebrating its 75th birthday this year with a special edition Model 579, one of which will be touring the U.S. starting next month. The tractor has a red and white paint job mimicking that of Peterbilt’s original 1939 model, exclusive logos and a plate with the truck’s numerated edition. Click here to read more on the truck and see a rendering of it.