The Lockwood Report

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Alright, let me continue what I started a couple of weeks ago, the second half of a very personal selection, my favorite 10 new products of 2012. Like the first five, these come in no particular order. I’m not ranking them, just noting the introductions that particularly caught my eye. Some are obviously significant in a big way, others less so. 

But before I get to that, there’s been a significant development in the last few days that merits mention. Volvo, more specifically AB Volvo, is set to become the world’s largest maker of heavy-duty trucks after signing an agreement with China’s Dongfeng Motor Group (DFG) to acquire 45% of a new DFG subsidiary, Dongfeng Commercial Vehicles (DFCV). The latter will include the major part of DFG’s medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles business. When the deal’s done, within about a year according to a Volvo press release, the Volvo Group will become the world’s largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks. 
All of this follows a recent agreement between DFG and Nissan Motors, in which the Chinese company bought the medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicle operation from a venture owned jointly by DFG and Nissan. 
The Volvo Group says it’s presently the world’s third largest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks with 180,000 units sold in 2011. Dongfeng was second largest producer in 2011 with total sales of 186,000 units, of which about 142,000 were produced by the part of the company that will be included in DFCV. Daimler is in the number one spot.
During 2012, the Chinese market for heavy-duty trucks totalled approximately 636,000 vehicles, and the medium-duty market was 290,000 vehicles. DFCV had market shares of 16.1% and 15.7%, respectively.
It’s unclear at this point exactly how the two companies will mesh in practical terms, but Volvo says there are a number of areas in which co-operation is planned, such as engines and powertrain components, product platforms, and purchasing.
Now back to the Top 10, Part 2…
TRIMMING THE LIST DOWN to just 10 items is clearly an arbitrary exercise, and of course I could easily have made it the Top 20 or even 50. Some eyebrows may be raised here, and I might even get angry letters, but so be it. 
To repeat what I wrote last time, I’m not including trucks. Nor am I selecting anything from the vast array of fleet-management, GPS, and communication systems available. There are simply too many of them, and I could easily fill out my Top 10 without leaving the telematics world. 
Volvo’s remote diagnostics aftermarket service, now standard on all Volvo-powered VN models, is in that camp but sufficiently important to warrant a call-out.
I’m not going to include engines here either, though there were a few of real importance. 
Cummins, for example, says its new ISX12 engine offers "significant" fuel economy improvements for regional-haul, vocational, and specialty applications. An evolution of the ISX11.9, released about a couple of years back primarily for vocational use, the revised engine is said to deliver fuel economy improvements of as much as 12% in such work. The gain is "up to 5%" in regional hauling.
1. DETROIT LAUNCHED AXLES AND A TRANSMISSION, and in the process created a complete powertrain package from the engine on back. Of all the introductions last year, this one is especially significant, striking a big blow for vertical integration.
Detroit-brand axles are now available to order for Freightliner, Western Star, and Freightliner Custom Chassis vehicles, as well as Thomas Built buses, from Daimler Trucks North America. It’s a complete line covering every trucking segment, including steer axles and both single- and tandem-drive rears.
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Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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