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June 17, 2009 Vol. 5, No. 12

First, my hat’s off to Kenworth for introducing a new truck at a time when a lot of folks have battened down the hatches and hidden from the world. Maybe the engineering work was done ages ago before the roof caved in on the industry, but I don’t care – this looks good and it sends the right message. Nice one.

See details on the new T470 below.

It reminds me of a comment I heard at a dinner last week in Moncton, New Brunswick. Actually, it was in the smoking room outside the restaurant where I was talking with Larry McConnell of McConnell Transport in Woodstock, NB. Echoing my sentiments, he said – and passionately, which is his normal way – that he was tired of hearing how bad things were in trucking. Suck it up and get on with it, he said, because we all know it’s tough out there.

Anyway, it seems Kenworth thinks the same way.

I was in Moncton for the Atlantic Provinces Truck Show, incidentally, a tidy affair that always seems to please exhibitors and visitors alike. This time was no different, though attendance was clearly down.

A MORE LAVISH SPECTACLE WAS STAGED in Washington, DC on June 11 when a herd of hybrids descended on Capitol Hill for a showcase of hybrid technologies. Organized by CALSTART and the Hybrid Truck Users Forum, it also involved all the hybrid truck makers and hybrid system manufacturers, along with Duke University and the Environmental Defense Fund.

The purpose was to demonstrate the progress of hybrid technology in the medium and heavy-duty truck market, and to explore how federal action can best support widespread commercialization. The hybrid industry needs a boost because the commercialization process has slowed with the recession.

“Our hybrid technology will be commercially viable, yet it will take time to establish a robust hybrid market for heavy vehicles that will enable us to invest in large scale production,” said Dennis Slagle, Mack president and CEO, at the event. “Incentives will accelerate the adoption of class 8 hybrids and bring forward the positive environmental changes.”

Until these economies of scale are established, most heavy-duty hybrids will be sold at a very high premium compared to non-hybrids, he said. Once a market is established and production volumes reach the point where the price difference becomes smaller, the savings from fuel and maintenance… should be enough to recoup a payback in a few years.

“Government incentives are necessary to establish a market for these vehicles with environmental benefits, similar to the incentives offered for hybrid passenger vehicles,” added Tom Kelly, Mack senior vice president, product portfolio management. “The public benefit of these incentives will be reduced environmental impact as hybrid heavy-duty trucks become more common.”

Mack was showing its class 8 TerraPro low-cab-forward refuse truck with production-intent parallel diesel-electric hybrid powertrain.

Nearby was the latest addition to Peterbilt’s hybrid lineup, the Model 335 hybrid tractor pictured here that uses Eaton’s hybrid electric power system with an electric motor to help out the PACCAR PX-6 diesel engine. The 335 also features the company’s proprietary in-dash 7-in. Hybrid System Monitor. It shows fuel economy and battery state of charge, among other things, allowing the driver to modify his driving to maximize fuel economy. It also provides full diagnostic capabilities.

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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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