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March 24, 2010 Vol. 6, No. 6

So here I am sitting in Louisville, Kentucky, exactly two weeks after penning my previous newsletter from a somewhat nicer hotel room in St. Louis. Writing in such places is tough, if you care to hear a tale of minor woe, not least because the desk chair’s never high enough. I’m sitting on two pillows as we speak, whereas St. Louis only required one. I feel top-heavy, like I need to activate a roll stability control system.

I’m writing this just before having dinner with the big folks at Cummins, and the Mid-America Trucking Show starts tomorrow with a day devoted to press conferences – and I mean ALL day. But for now I’ll go back and review the Work Truck Show, the reason I went to St. Louis. I’ll finish with a couple of things that I know will be happening at the Louisville melee.

THE WORK TRUCK SHOW WAS A BIG SUCCESS for all concerned, it seems, with some 8000 visitors – the vast majority of them serious buying people because this isn’t a tire-kicker’s paradise – looking over a whack of equipment. Some 70 new products were introduced there but I’ll just cover some highlights here, with more detail on some of the news in the individual items below.

For me the stars were never-seen-before vehicles from Navistar, Nissan, and Freightliner Custom Chassis (FCCC), but also a unique approach to building and selling trucks on the part of Smith Electric Vehicles. As well, both the new 2011 Ford Super Duty and 2011 GMC Sierra 3500HD chassis cab trucks were put in front of commercial users for the first time. On the bigger end of things there was the introduction of the Kenworth T440 plus a lot of other KW news, updated 4900 FA and SA 109-inch-BBC models from Western Star, and news of improvements to the severe-duty Freightliner Business Class M2 106V.

Amongst components, Hendrickson showed off an interesting lift axle, the Composilite SC, which actually sports no composite materials at all but does feature the patent pending ‘Compliant Tie Rod’ with so-called PerfecTrak Technology — said to be the first flexible tie-rod assembly and dampening system. It’s a resilient and impact-resistant tie-rod assembly that will bend before it breaks. Cool.

NOW, I’M A BIG TRUCK GUY but I couldn’t help but get caught up in the enthusiasm surrounding Nissan’s introduction of its NV commercial van, attended by a huge throng of excited dealers as well as the press. It was the most significant moment of the show because it marks the company’s first foray into the North American commercial market. The new NV2500 van on display in St. Louis aims at both the Mercedes Sprinter and the more traditional full-size offerings from Ford and General Motors. With a body-on-frame design with big V6 or V8 gasoline engines – no diesel is contemplated – it comes in normal or raised-roof versions, making it a serious contender for utility, tradesman, and parts-van use among many others. There’s also an NV1500 and NV3500, the former only available with Standard Roof.

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

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