This week Tom Berg, Senior Editor at Heavy Duty Trucking online, gave his thoughts about some emerging trends in the trucking industry and what their effect will be during 2013. Last year was puzzling for many manufacturers due to some unpredicted trouble in both the economy, labor disputes and weather patterns. Some turned out to be mere annoyances in the end, some flat out disasters.
If 2011 was the year of regulation, 2012 was the year of design and technology. Lots of big manufacturers were putting big money behind alt-fuel based designs, attracted by the potential efficiency. The fact that the fuel could be sourced so close to home was a big draw, but not without practical limitations on the highway and state budget offices.
Berg’s big 4 players in the coming year?
- 13 liter engines – For the first time this last year, smaller engines outsold the big 15 liter powerplants in big trucks.
- Natural gas fuel – Trucking companies can see the cost savings on paper, but just can’t quite get there in reality. Yet the tech continues to find a place in more fleets.
- 6×2 axle configuration – Promising a fuel savings of up to 4%, but providing practical limitations for OTR truckers who dock everywhere from sunny San Diego to a sludgy mining dock in North Dakota, the 6×2 design is being taken seriously for regional fleets. Still…
- Automated transmissions – As more of the big manufacturers are offering them as optional packages on heavy duty trucks, prices continue to fall as designers continue to work out the bugs. Fuel savings of up to 7% is what gets company owners on the phone in the afternoons to manufacturers.