The Truck Market to Boom into 2006
The truck market is booming, with an increase of 25 percent forecasted for Class 8 vehicles in 2005, and Class 5-7 is expected to grow by 37 percent, said Jim Parker, vice president, Caterpillar Power Systems Marketing Division, during a keynote speech about the current state of the industry and Caterpillar plans for 2007 engines at the 60th annual meeting of NationaLease, the largest member-owned system of full-service leasing companies in North America. These growth figures will continue to increase in 2006.However, due to market growth and rising costs of materials and components, component suppliers are having trouble keeping up with demand. As a result, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and major component suppliers in the trucking industry have been challenged to meet the current level of sales activity, and predicted unit volumes for the next few years will only make this more difficult.The U.S. economy is expected to grow by 3.9 percent in 2005, and the Canadian economy by 4.2 percent. In addition, the ATA truck tonnage should continue its growth pattern from the last several years, with an estimated increase of 4.7 percent in 2005.Tightening government emissions regulations remain a challenge. However, Caterpillar has engines in testing with technology that meets the 2007 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, with ACERT Technology, introduced in 2003, serving as the foundation.For 2007, ACERT Technology will feature the next generation of electronics and fuel management systems, as well as closed crankcase ventilation and a diesel particulate filter with active regeneration. Testing of the new engines and aftertreatment systems is in process in the Caterpillar engine technology laboratory — in fact, a truck equipped to meet 2007 standards was shown at a U. S. Department of Energy conference in May. The 2007 Caterpillar engines are expected to have the same power range and maintenance schedules, and to deliver fuel economy that’s comparable to today’s engines, although the impact of low-sulfur diesel fuel is still unknown. A number of 2007 Caterpillar engines at selected ratings will be provided to customers to test in their own operations starting in mid-2005, more than a year ahead of the compliance deadline.