Freightliner ready to take on dot.coms over parts business

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Freightliner LLC is launching a suite of customer Internet sites to meet carrier demands for conducting business online, including a site that will compete with current dot.coms in allowing truckers to buy parts and accessories over the Web.

That site, called Dream Machine and accessible through in January, will provide truckers with information on about 1,000 different parts. The site will include information such as part numbers, descriptions, and a dealer locator for ordering parts from the nearest dealer. And by the second quarter of 2001, the site will include a “shopping cart” for truck operators to purchase parts online, Freightliner president Jim Hebe said. The parts can be picked up at the driver’s local dealer or delivered to the most convenient location while on the road.

Hebe said he believes Freightliner can pull off the tricky economics that go with an online parts ordering business because they will be able to develop an integrated system involving their dealers and customers.

“It’s no problem to take an order on the Internet. Fulfilling it is the difficult part and nobody can do that part of it better than dealers can. The solution is an integrated system,” Hebe said. “We have to have a system that talks to our dealers and our dealers have to have a system that talks to their customers and it all has to be transparent.”

He added that Freightliner is “so close” to developing that system and will be investing “way over U.S. $100 million” in one of the biggest steps the company has taken in the technology field.

And he also used the opportunity to take a swing at the dot.coms that have sprung up and attempted to take a slice of the truck parts and accessories market.

“We’ll bury those bastards, every one of them. And the next one that comes up we’ll bury them too. They have no right being in this business. All they are interested in is the spread. They don’t care about how they deliver (the parts) or if they deliver the right ones. All they care about is the two to five per cent spread they want to make on somebody else’s business. And that’s not a viable business model…If you can’t fulfill a part order within 3-4 hours it’s not worth it. Those exchanges that haven’t failed probably will and those that spring up will have to be integrated sites that have an established fulfillment system.”

Custom trim products will be the first category of parts rolled out on Dream Machine.

The two other Internet sites that will be rolled out by Freightliner this January include and will be a one-stop source for trucking information and services for drivers of any make of truck. Its key features will include maps and weather, access to manuals and dealer directories, news and industry information, and even entertainment and travel information by destination. The site, developed in conjunction with IBM, will serve as both a destination site and a portal offering links to other relevant sites. The Trucker Tools portion of the site will have a log-in function that allows drivers to register once to access all protected and customized site areas. Registered users will be able to customize information to match their specified priorities. The different categories include trucking news with business and news stories related to the trucking world; trucker life with topics on family, health, hobbies, travel and entertainment; and general headline news and sports feeds. will be designed to assist drivers with scheduling maintenance and repair appointments, provide notices of recalls, and post reminders on preventive maintenance. The site will also be able to track maintenance data on multiple trucks.

The three sites will be linked together making it easy for users to jump from one to another.

The Associates find new clients with Web financing option

Adding a “clicks” option to its traditional “bricks” approach to providing owner/ operators with financing for their trucks is helping The Associates bring in new business from the remotest of places.

“We’re getting deals from parts of the country where we don’t even have offices – Alaska, Mexico and some parts of Canada where I still can’t believe they have Internet access,” said Peter Piccolo, vice-president e-business at the Great American Trucking Show.

Piccolo added that although online transactions are still a small part of the 30,000 Class 8 truck-financing transactions his firm conducts annually, it makes economic sense to go that route. Processing an application online costs between 0.5 per cent and four per cent less than when truckers submit their applications through the traditional channels – the company’s call centre or through truck dealers. And he said for that reason, as well as the fact that more truckers want the option of doing business online, dealers will have to adapt to a reality sure to cut into their business.

“The market is shifting in that direction whether the dealers like it or not. The way we’ve set it up customers are still purchasing their trucks directly from dealers although that may change based on what the OEM’s do,” he said adding that dealers will have to rethink the way they operate.

The Associates will be rolling out a Web-based dealer program in 2001 and will be encouraging their dealers to use the Internet with their customers.

Piccolo also emphasized that his company’s purchase by Citigroup will not change its emphasis on trucking but rather add to the services it can offer truckers. “For a trucker who wants to get a loan or purchase life insurance, he will be able to do it online,” he said.

Peterbilt aims to speed up repairs with online service

To get trucks in need of body repair back on the road faster, Peterbilt has introduced an Internet application called Service Unit Locator and designed to inventory used and rebuilt hoods, cabs and sleeper units for sale throughout Canada and the U.S.

From the Service Unit Locator home page (accessible through, by clicking on the “Parts” button and scrolling down to “Service Unit Locator”) click on “Search.” Pull-down menus allow customers to sort and locate hoods, cabs and sleepers by truck manufacturer, model, year, price, condition, Peterbilt dealer location, and province.

Inventory on the site is kept up to date, with units added or removed as they become available or are sold.

Kenworth e-mail service keeps truckers in the loop

Kenworth PremierCare Parts and Service has launched a weekly customer e-mail service to provide truckers with information on products, technical repairs, maintenance information, and parts and service savings.

To become a Kenworth Pre mierCare Parts and Service member, go to and click on the “Register Now” button to access the Kenworth registration website. Once customer profile information is provided, the e-mail address is automatically added to the distribution list, and can be removed upon request. Registered customers are notified via e-mail as new information is announced. In the future, customers will receive offers based on the truck they drive and information they request in their profiles.

PC Miler/Streets 3.0 version is now available to carriers

ALK has released PC Miler/Streets 3.0, the latest version of its street-level routing, mileage and mapping software.

Among its newest additions is drag and drop stop management and enhanced driving directions. Also new is a Time Windows routing and scheduling feature that provides users with up-to-the-minute route planning. Time Windows routing and scheduling enables users to calculate routes that most accurately satisfy customers’ pick up and delivery time constraints. PC Miler/Streets’ new stop management feature lets users move stops up and down within a route entry window or move stops to an entirely different route.

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