At most Work Truck Shows presented by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), new truck chassis and bodies take center stage. At this year's show, held in March Indianapolis, the new models of trucks took second billing to the emergence of hybrid truck technology.
As battery technology continues to improve, systems are being developed to substitute electricity for what had been the domain of power take-offs. Hydraulic booms and bucket trucks, pumps, winches, and other equipment that relied on an idling engine for power on demand can now operate in hybrid mode with the engine shut off. Trucks no longer need to idle for hours just to provide a few moments of work.
The 9000 attendees had opportunities to drive several hybrids. These included utility trucks to step vans to straight trucks. Many, using the Eaton Medium-Duty Hybrid Electric System, were able to start on the short closed parking lot course on batteries alone. Engines operated only when the batteries needed recharging.
In addition, there was a day-long Hybrid Truck Summit, put on by NTEA and the Hybrid Truck Users Forum. Here are some highlights of the show, including new introductions and products.
Among the new trucks that were introduced, Daimler Chrysler launched the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs featuring Cummins diesel engines with 305 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque. The parent company also introduced the Sterling Bullet line with almost identical specifications and capabilities.
Now, Dodge light-duty buyers can maintain dealer relationships as they fill their medium-duty needs, while Sterling can service class 6, 7, and 8 customers with class 4 and 5 vehicles.
General Motors' Chevrolet and GMC divisions showed a full range of light and medium trucks, ranging from the Chevy HHR panel truck to the Kodiak and Top Kick 4500s and 5500s. The big trucks offer the 8.1-liter gasoline V-8 for those who don't rack up enough miles (about 25,000 annually) to justify a diesel.
International already started delivery of its DuraStar Hybrid. The Dura-Star lineup includes the 4100 class 5 through the 4400 class 7 in either 4X2 or 6X4 configuration.
Products and Services
Half the fun of attending shows is finding what's new and helpful on the show floor. Here are a few new or improved items that you may find worthwhile.
Whether it's water, fuel, or any other liquid, surge is something no tanker driver wants to experience. Surge Buster (www.varitech-industries.com) makes a removable insert polymer baffle that eliminates up to 96% of surge in any direction. It displaces less than 1% of tank volume (eight gallons per 1000).
Fleetnet America (www.fleetnetamerica.com), a breakdown management service for over-the-road trucking, offers a total maintenance service for vocational fleets. TM Care provides complete scheduled and emergency maintenance using pre-screened and approved independent providers. Data capture and failure analysis reporting set Fleetnet America apart from other services.