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Industry News Briefs

Strong Medium Duty Truck Sales in 2004
According to research performed by Ward's Communications, US retail sales of Class 3 - 7 medium duty trucks are on the upswing. Through the first seven months of 2004, sales were up 19.2 percent compared to the same period in 2003. According to Peterbilt Motors Co. general manager Dan Sobic, medium-duty "quote and ordering activity is quite solid." Thomas Celliti, vice-president of Navistar International's Medium Truck Vehicle Center, predicts the overall Class 6 and 7 market will be up 15 percent from 2003. Class 6 trucks showed the largest growth through July, growing 48.7 percent, while Class 7 truck sales climbed 12.6 percent.

Owner-Operators Comprise One-Third of Carrier Fleet
According to date from the Vehicle Inventory and use Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, there are more owner-operator truckers than previously estimated. "Using ratios discovered by our membership profile survey and this new data, we can estimate that owner-operators comprise about one-third of the total for-hire carrier fleet, which is estimated by the survey as 1.1 million large trucks," says John Siebert, project manager for the OOIDA Foundation. The survey shows 390,000 total owner-operators and 545,000 total owner-operator trucks, with each owner-operator owning an average of 1.4 trucks.

Diesels Dominate Commercial Truck Market
According to R L Polk Inc, diesel vehicles greatly outnumber gasoline-powered vehicles in the medium and heavy-duty commercial truck market. Only 15.6% of new commercial truck registrations in 2004 were gasoline powered. International Truck and Engine Corp holds the greatest share of the diesel engine market in Classes 3-6, while Caterpillar Inc holds the great4est share in Classes 7 and 8. The gasoline engine market leader is General Motors in Classes 3, 6, 7 and 8, while Ford is the leader in Classes 4 and 5.

Medium-Duty Trucks Enjoy Strong Sales
According to Steven Latin-Kasper, market data and research director for the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), medium-duty trucks should continue to see strong sales through 2005 and into 2006. According to NTEA and US Department of Commerce data, the total value of transportation and truck equipment shipped by US manufacturers was $98.66 billion in 2004, an increase of 16 percent over 2003. Truck and truck chassis sales represent the largest portion of the figure ($65 billion), an increase of 13 percent over 2003.

Heavy-Duty Truck Sales Expected to Remain Strong
According to Rainer Schmueckle, president of the Freightliner Group, sales of heavy-duty trucks are expected to continue rising through 2006. New EPA emission standards take effect in January 2007, requiring manufacturers to incorporate more complex and expensive diesel engine technology. The more expensive trucks will prompt many buyers to buy new trucks before the standard takes effect, but Schmueckle doesn't believe sales will suffer in 2007. "The industry doesn't have the capacity to handle a big pre-buy", he says. This means that not everyone will be able to buy new trucks in 2006, and orders will cross over into 2007. While 2007 trucks eill be more expensive, their increased fuel efficiency is expected to offset much of the increased operating expense.

Big Growth Projected for Diesel Truck Engine Products Market
The Freedonia Group reports that the diesel truck engine products market will grow substantially as more customers purchase diesel trucks for their fuel economy benefits. Although diesel vehicles cost more than gasoline vehicles, and diesel fuel is available in only 40 percent of US gas stations, the US market for light-duty diesel truck engine products is expected to increase to $420 million by 2009, a 42.4 percent increase from 2004.

Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel Standards
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), preliminary surveys indicate approximately 85 percent of highway diesel fuel currently meets Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) standards, exceeding the current federal mandate of 80 percent. By 2010, 100 percent of highway diesel fuel is expected to meet ULSD standards. New diesel engine emission control technology and ULSD are expected to result in billions of dollars in environmental and health benefits.

Diesel Owners Report Excellent Fuel Efficiency
According to the EPA's "Your MPG" database, diesel vehicle owners are reporting 4.3% greater fuel efficiency than indicated on their vehicle window stickers. The data was collected from 221 diesel drivers who calculated their own fuel economy and report it to an internet database. Gasoline vehicles owners, on the other hand, reported 1.4% to 1.7% decreased fuel economy compared to the window sticker, while hybrid owners reported 8% decreased fuel economy. "It's long been known that diesel is the most fuel efficient internal combustion engine ever produced, typically providing 20 - 40% greater fuel efficiency than other technologies," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

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