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Class 8 build rate: When change comes, it’s likely to come fast

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ACT’s forecasts have targeted third quarter 2019 as the quarter in which the supply of Class 8 tractors and demand for freight services were likely to tip so far as to break the current period of peak vehicle production. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current Class 8 build rates suggest upside to the 2019 forecast, but large new truck inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call: When the change comes, it is likely to come fast.

“Since March 2018, ACT’s forecasts have targeted third quarter 2019 as the quarter in which the supply of Class 8 tractors and demand for freight services were likely to tip so far as to break the current period of peak vehicle production, as demand reverts to the mean,” said Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president. “Current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the call for a third quarter 2019 inflection point expectation remains intact.”

Regarding heavy vehicle demand, Tam said, “At the heart of our cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so capacity building always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time. Hence, cycle duration ultimately comes down to timing and excluding the pre-buy and housing bubble impacted 2004-2006 cycle, peak of cycle build rates has historically lasted between 13 and 15 months. For this Class 8 cycle, we date peak build rates to June 2018, so we are currently in 12 months.”

Regarding ACT’s medium duty forecasts, Tam said slower orders are negating upward pressure previously exerted on the forecast.

“For trucks, segment analysis preliminary May orders were more than 2,500 units below the 12-month trend, with similar developments in the bus and RV segments leading to a like comparison for the total Classes 5-7 market,” he said.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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DTNA delivers first Freightliner eCascadia models to Penske, NFI

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NFI and Penske Truck Leasing were the recipients of the first two Freightliner eCascadia models built by Daimler Trucks North America. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Nine days after Daimler Trucks North America said it was getting ready to deliver to customers the first Freightliner aCascadia models, they said they had done it.

On August 12, the company reported in a news release that it had produced two eCascadias that were to be shipped soon.

On Wednesday, August 21, DTNA said the fete had been accomplished.

The customers were Penske Truck Leasing of Reading, Pennsylvania, and NFI of Camden, New Jersey, were the customers.

The trucks are part of Freightliner’s Electric Innovation Fleet and both customers will use their vehicles to test the integration of battery electric trucks into large-scale fleet operations.

“Co-creation is the cornerstone of DTNA’s strategy to rapidly develop and deploy battery electric trucks. DTNA’s partnerships with customers like Penske and NFI provide valuable feedback for the final design of our trucks, as well as the design of the surrounding e-mobility ecosystem,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO of DTNA. “DTNA’s holistic approach is vital to advancing viable transportation solutions from which society as a whole will benefit.”

Nielsen said the Freightliner Innovation Fleet is supported by a partnership between DTNA and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) which focuses on improving air quality in the South Coast Basin and partially funded the Innovation Fleet with a nearly $16M grant. Freightliner eCascadias and medium-duty electric Freightliner eM2s from the Innovation Fleet are operated within the South Coast AQMD jurisdiction.

“We are excited to be a part of this groundbreaking project that will directly impact local Southern California communities, especially those disproportionately impacted by air pollution,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD’s Executive Officer. “We hope to see large scale deployments of similar zero emission trucks that will have significant environmental and health benefits across the entire state.”

Penske and NFI are the first to deploy battery-electric commercial vehicles from Freightliner to their operations. Penske Truck Leasing will run eCascadias in daily delivery operations within California’s Inland Empire while NFI will employ eCascadias in drayage operations at both the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“We’re pleased to continue our collaboration with Freightliner and be among the first companies putting the eCascadia to work,” said Brian Hard, president and CEO of Penske Truck Leasing. “Our first eCascadia will be used by our subsidiary Penske Logistics to make multiple, daily store deliveries on a dedicated route. Our in-house maintenance technicians are trained and well prepared, and our recent investments in charging infrastructure in the South Coast Air Basin will play an important role as we operate these cutting-edge vehicles on their delivery routes.”

“NFI’s partnership with Daimler is a testament to our commitment to social responsibility, supporting the California ports, and driving innovation within our industry,” said Sid Brown, CEO of NFI. “As the premier drayage provider in Southern California, we are excited to be one of first to deploy the eCascadia into our operations, accompanied by the installation of electric charging stations. We look forward to continuing to invest in new technology and equipment to operate more efficiently, and to do our part in creating cleaner communities.”

Nielsen said the Freightliner eCascadia is built on the proven foundation of the Cascadia, the best-selling Class 8 on the market and was first revealed in June 2018 along with the medium-duty eM2. The planned start of series production for both models is late 2021. In preparation for their introduction, Freightliner has established multiple avenues for co-creating with customers. Freightliner’s Electric Vehicle Council, a collective of 38 customer companies works to address the total e-mobility ecosystem. Freightliner’s Innovation Fleet provides customers with the opportunity to fully test the eM2 and the eCascadia in real world use. In total, Penske and NFI will receive 30 battery electric trucks.

The Freightliner eCascadia and eM2 are part of Daimler Trucks’ global electrified truck initiative, joining the company’s Thomas Built Buses all-electric Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley school bus, the FUSO eCanter, and the Mercedes-Benz eActros and eCitaro. To date, there are more than 100 electrified trucks and buses from Daimler Trucks & Buses on the road globally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ACT Research: Trailer production robust, component supply challenges easing

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Frank Maly, director–CV transportation analysis and research at ACT Research said the recent opening of OEM trailer order boards has been met with a dramatically lackluster response by fleets, catching most OEMs by surprise. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. —  Trailer industry net orders continued the year-over-year slide that begin at the end of 2018 and that is now negative for seven consecutive months with preliminary July data showing that trend continuing.

So says this quarter’s issue of ACT Research’s Trailer Components Report, which, however, also notes that manufacturers continue to produce trailers at near-record levels.

“Through June, trailer net orders are down more than 43% year-over-year, and the order board horizon has remained in the November/December timeframe this entire year,” said Frank Maly, director–CV transportation analysis and research at ACT. “Additionally, fleets were clamoring to order additional trailers earlier this year for 2019 delivery, frustrated by a lack of available production slots and OEMs’ unwillingness to accept orders for 2020. After the early-year enthusiasm, the recent opening of OEM order boards has been met with a dramatically lackluster response by fleets, catching most OEMs by surprise. And, high cancellations have also churned industry backlogs for the latter part of the year, indicating that 2019 may well close weakly and provide little support for the beginning of 2020.”

Maly also noted that despite the dramatic order weakness, OEMs continue to produce at near-record levels, and lacking any turnaround in order volume as the year closes, OEMs could reduce those rates further, attempting to stretch existing backlogs until the fleet order pace rebounds.

Regarding trailer components specifically, the report said that while some component issues have caused higher red-tag/incomplete issues in late 2018 and early 2019, there has been less mention of component challenges as this year has progressed.

“The potential impact of tariffs is the only possible headwind to relatively benign component constraints occurring mid-year,” Maly said.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Volvo Trucks introduces enhanced Turbo Compound engine in VNL models

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The next generation Turbo Compound engine from Volvo Trucks provides up to an additional 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the current 13-liter Turbo Compound engine, the D13TC. This new engine delivers up to 11% fuel savings overall compared to model-year 2015 trucks. (Courtesy: VOLVO TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Volvo Trucks North America is introducing the next generation of its Turbo Compound technology, providing up to an additional 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the current 13-liter Turbo Compound engine, the D13TC.

This new engine delivers up to 11% fuel savings overall compared to model-year 2015 trucks. Other improvements include enhanced efficiency over a wider range of applications, more engine ratings and a new EE Extra Efficiency drive mode, according to John Moore, product marketing manager at Volvo Trucks North America.

The new D13TC will be available for order in the fourth quarter of 2019 and go into production at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

“We developed our first generation of the Turbo Compound engine in 2017, and since then almost 300 million miles have been logged, validating the up to 8% fuel-savings benefits,” Moore said. “This new D13TC builds upon this game-changing engine technology, further increasing fuel efficiency by up to 3% over the current D13TC engine, saving approximately $1,200 per year per truck, based on the average fuel price and 125,000 miles per year.”

Volvo Trucks’ new D13TC offers three individual drive modes, Dynamic Torque, an additional 405 horsepower rating, and the next evolution of the Volvo Trucks’ patented wave piston design. These updates enable further-increased fuel efficiency over a wider range of loads, vehicle speeds and engine RPMs. This offers a broader use of applications compared to the first generation of the D13TC engine, which was designed specifically for over-the-road, long-haul applications for trucks loaded at 80,000 pounds.

The three individual drive modes available with the new D13TC engine are extra efficiency, economy and performance.

Moore said these modes will allow the driver to better optimize fuel efficiency for the vehicle with desired performance, depending on application, topography and driving conditions. This new engine also features a wider RPM efficiency band, which enables top fuel efficiency for longer periods of time.

Dynamic Torque is an incremental torque system designed to provide the right torque at the right time.

Rather than operating in silos of high-torque and low-torque modes, Dynamic Torque automatically sets a torque level dependent upon the weight of the truck, the grade and the road conditions at any given time.

Dynamic Torque also features an automatic 12th gear lockout on heavy loads with Adaptive Gearing engine ratings. A kick-down switch along with performance drive mode allow access to full torque for customers requiring it on demand. This simpler, more effective system on the new D13TC engine will provide an even more consistent improvement in fuel efficiency across different applications, enabling customers to cut costs on a wider range of operations.

The new engine also features a revised wave piston, designed and patented by Volvo Trucks. The improved design optimizes wave technology to evenly distribute the air/fuel mixture in the cylinder, burning the fuel more consistently than a traditional piston. Volvo’s design increases the compression ratio from 17:1 to 18:1 while maintaining up to a 90% reduction of soot in the cylinder, further improving fuel efficiency in the engine.

“The individual drive modes allow drivers new heights in fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance. We are also taking it to the next level with a simpler torque package that delivers the right torque at the right time,” Moore said. “Not only is it cutting edge when it comes to sustainable use of diesel in the transportation industry, but it is the most fuel-efficient Volvo engine on the market for our customers, with trucks running cleaner at a reduced cost.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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