A concrete producer's fleet is more than just ready-mix trucks and pumps. Fleet mangers monitor a wide assortment of support vehicles, including pickups, dump trucks, and a host of service vehicles equipped for tasks ranging from changing tires to performing field repairs.
The truck industry classifies these support vehicles as work trucks. Hundreds of manufacturers who focus on providing products and services to this important vehicle industry segment met at the National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show in Atlanta in February.
This year's unofficial theme was “going green.” Many of the fleet mangers who attended represent large national fleets such as Wal-Mart, UPS, or FedEx. All were seeking economical ways to demonstrate their commitment to the environment.
This year, perhaps for the first time, manufacturers actually offered products that may be cost-effective. Fueling this is the belief that the federal government is about to expand its support of green technologies of alternative fuels and hybrid vehicles.
I start my Work Truck Show recap by highlighting technologies designed to make vehicles more environmentally friendly.
Two new electric Class 5 vehicles head the list of environmentally friendly trucks unveiled in Atlanta. Modec Zero Emission Vehicle has been selling vehicles in the United Kingdom for several years and now has operations in the U.S. (www.modeczev.com).
Journalists covering the show named its electric chassis cab as the best new product at this year's show. Crew cab versions will be available in the U.S. The Modec is powered by 2400 pounds of lithium-iron phosphate batteries, the same chemistry used in the award-winning Chevrolet Volt concept car. It can haul a 4400-pound load (body work, tools, equipment, and people) at highway speeds up to 100 miles before needing recharging, which is done at night during low demand periods.
The Modec qualifies for most, if not all, state and federal incentives. It has no trouble getting in and out of construction sites and is able to navigate a 33% grade empty and an 18% grade fully loaded.
I drove one in Atlanta and found it quick, maneuverable, and responsive. Being electric, it doesn't idle and is dead quiet.
The other futuristic electric vehicle was the Unicell Quicksider, (www.unicell.com), with a continuous one-piece fiberglass body. A prototype is in service with Purolator in Canada, but the truck is adaptable to many roles.
The suspension lowers for easy ramp access to the inside of the vehicle. Also, instead of parcels, the Quicksider's insides can be configured with racks for parts and carts for generators and compressors.