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Kenworth predicting strong year

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Despite a sluggish start to 2003, Kenworth general manager, Bob Christensen, says he's optimisti...

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Despite a sluggish start to 2003, Kenworth general manager, Bob Christensen, says he’s optimistic the market will begin to recover in the second or third quarter.

Christensen says truck sales should increase as the year progresses, and the company plans to continue expanding its dealer network in the meantime to meet the expected increase in demand. He made the comments yesterday at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

“In the first quarter, we were pretty much right on track, where we thought we’d be,” Christensen said at the Mid-America Truck Show.

He says many fleets currently have an aging truck fleet, with just 40 per cent of the trucks on the road being less than three years old.

“Fleets are faced with the expensive prospect of running older trucks,” he says.

According to a recently-released white paper on life cycle costs, it’s more economical in the long run to replace trucks before they get much older than that, and Kenworth is banking on the assumption that fleets will begin replacing that aging equipment soon. The company is forecasting about 160,000 Class 8 truck sales in the U.S. and Canada over the course of this year, despite the slow start.

Christensen notes that freight volumes have remained steady throughout the industry downturn, but capacity is decreasing due to consolidations and carrier bankruptcies.

Kenworth published the White Paper on Life Cycle Cost in hopes of educating fleet managers and owner/operators about the importance of replacing aging equipment before it begins to have a detrimental effect on a fleet’s efficiency and productivity.

“It’s important to consider the total cost of ownership over the life cycle,” says Christensen. “The white paper offers fleets and owner/operators ways to get the most for their money over the life of their truck.”

The white paper urges truck owners to consider such factors as fuel economy, payload, maintenance and resale value while determining how long to keep a truck on the road before replacing it with a newer model.

Kenworth has what it refers to as ‘the world’s most efficient truck’ on display at the show, to further emphasize the importance of understanding life-cycle costs. It’s an aerodynamic T600 equipped with a number of options to maximize efficiency, such as wide-based single tires.

Despite the difficulties facing truckmakers over the past year, Christensen says Kenworth is once again ramping up its medium-duty build rate to accommodate increased demand in that market segment.

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