U.S. and Canadian Governments Promoting Outdated Engine Technology


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TORONTO -- Outdated engine technology is effectively being promoted by the U.S. and Canadian governments, says Freightliner LLC president and CEO Chris Patterson.

By failing to provide incentives to truck buyers in support of buying environmentally superior 2007 engines, both Washington and Ottawa have left many fleet managers and owner-operators with no option but to avoid the substantial extra cost of the new diesels. And with a "profound" price increase coming again in 2010, he fears yet another up-and-then-down sales cycle launched "by human intervention" alone.
"In my opinion this is bad public policy," he told attendees at the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association breakfast held during the recent Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville. The result, he said, is that the efforts of the Environmental Protection Association (EPA) to provide cleaner air have been compromised as old engines are being used longer than they should be.

In terms of truck sales, this meant a record year for all truck and engine makers in 2006, but it's had a devastating effect on '07. Worse, in fact, than once anticipated. In a private interview at Mid-America, Patterson told Today's Trucking that fully 70 percent of his company's existing orders are booked for the second half of the year. Hardest hit are sales to the over-the-road class 8 market, the company's core strength.

"I'm beginning to see the ramp-up later than August," he said. "Definitely before the end of the year we're going to see a big surge in orders."
Patterson's projection for 2007 class 8 sales industry-wide is 220,000 in Canada and the U.S., which is on the low end of the consensus. Other OEMs and tier-one suppliers have been predicting sales in the 220,000-230,000 range. But it's still going to be the 7th or 8th best year on record.

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