Reporter's notebook
A quick rundown of the big news from the Mid-America Trucking Show 2011

By Jami Jones, senior editor

It’s the Mid-America Trucking Show and the day before the event officially opens, the MATS media gaggle goes on a marathon day of press conferences.

While the workers are banging away at getting the show ready in the halls of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center, OEMs as well as parts and component manufacturers tell us everything great they will showcase in 2011.

Here’s some of the biggest news that Managing Editor Sandi Soendker, Associate Editor David Tanner and I found this year at MATS.

This year wasn’t one of tons of new trucks; it was a year of tweaks and improvements. Although two major topics drove many of the press conferences.



Bendix kicked things off with reports on their brake offerings because of the impending reduction in stopping distances.

The demand for disc brakes is already growing, with Bendix Spicer Foundation brake orders up 120 percent from 2009 sales orders. The rapid growth in the disc brake market can easily be attributed to the 25 percent reduction in stopping distances, which all new trucks must meet by 2014.

Bendix is up for the challenge, opening an additional production line at its Bowling Green, KY, plant.

The company also showcased a number of its safety technologies. Watch for more info on these in future issues.



Keeping the braking theme alive, Peterbilt announced the standardization of air disc brakes on all Peterbilt Class 8 models.

Company officials said they picked air disc brakes because they offer the shortest stopping distances, provide a compact design, minimize weight, reduce maintenance and improve both vehicle and operator efficiency.

Peterbilt is the first to go standard with air disc brakes across its full line up Class 8 vehicles.


Mack & Volvo

Other OEMs and component manufacturers focused our attention on the never-ending quest for better fuel economy. And it wasn’t all about diesel either.

Mack and Volvo paired up with some impressive announcements on significant gains in fuel economy.

Mack retooled its aerodynamics and improved engine performance. All of their hard work has Macks bringing in 12 percent better fuel mileage over the 2007 model trucks and engines.

I will have to say that when they talked about making the distinctive looking Mack aerodynamic, I was concerned. Come on, the Mack isn’t exactly a sleek and sexy styled truck. But the engineers did a fantastic job of preserving the unique Mack look – and improving fuel economy.

Aerodynamic retooling was the name of the game at the Volvo camp. They walked us through all of the improvements and changes made to the already very aero-styled Volvos. Additional fairings on the bottom of the trucks, new mirror shrouds and shrouds on the arms of the windows, new roof fairings that pair up with the sun visor for some models – the list was lengthy.

But the one thing, I hate to admit, that grabbed my attention was when they announced they moved the bug shield. Huh?

It’s in the middle of the hood. I want to hear how well that performs when the Love Bugs come out in June in Florida. Drivers, let me know.



In the retrofit department, ATDynamics of San Francisco unveiled a shorter version of the TrailerTail trailer fairing designed to meet Canadian regulations on overall truck length. The full-size TrailerTail meets U.S. regulations and is SAE Type II certified for fuel efficiency of 4-6 percent.

Independent testing on the shorter version is not yet complete. ATDynamics also continues to engineer and tweak its ATD-Transtex Skirts, SuperSpare tire mounts and WheelShield wheel covers, with fuel economy in mind.

You want a more efficiently run reefer? There’s an app for that. (I know that’s a tired cliché, but I had to do it.)


Carrier Transicold

Carrier Transicold rolled out its retooled APX control system technology. The electronics were redistributed throughout the unit to reduce the complexity of the wiring. Each module can be swapped out if it fails, instead of pulling the whole unit apart. The neatest thing was the control panel. A variety of applications are offered for the touch-screen control panel to customize the reefers performance. There’s everything from Range Protect and IntelliSet to Door Man. That last one keeps track of, you guessed it, when the door is open and how long. The system also has WiFi capability.

Can you run it from your smartphone? Not yet. But Carrier says the technology is there to do just that.



With its distinct line of sleeper-mounted HVAC products, Enviro-Fleet of Kent, OH, aims to simplify idle reduction in three ways: by making it more environmentally friendly, reining in ownership costs, and doing away with external hoses or components with the exception of electrical connections.

Enviro-Fleet units can be mounted rooftop, under the bunk or on the back wall and are powered by generator, battery pack or shore power.



Associate Editor Dave Tanner checked out some trailer offerings. He said trailer manufacturer Dorsey of Elba, AL, introduced the LiteGuard 5000 reefer, calling it the toughest, lightest and most energy efficient reefer in company history. The company backs it up with a 10-year warranty.

“We’re still over-engineering our trailers,” Dorsey VP Trey Gary said. “We’re just doing it in a more sophisticated way.”


Great Dane

Dave also reports that Great Dane unveiled a newly redesigned Classic Truckload reefer featuring the company’s exclusive ThermoGuard and CorroGuard products.

For dry-van haulers, Great Dane rolled out a new composite bottom rail for heavier loads. The Heavy-Duty Bottom Rail is

21 inches high compared to the standard 11-inch bottom rail.

Great Dane used MATS as a platform for its new MXP-120 All-Aluminum Platform Trailer.

The MXP-120 features two-piece bolted aluminum main beams, aluminum side rails and aluminum floor, rear assembly and cross members for corrosion resistance and a 1,000-pound weight savings over comparable steel.


The debate

And for the parting shot from LL Managing Editor Sandi Soendker.

Remember the hot and heavy SCR V. EGR battle we had going on the past few years. Well, it’s not quite done yet.

Jim Hebe with Navistar (EGR technology) says he was “through arguing about it.”

Andreas Renschler, the head of Daimler trucks (SCR technology) said “some may argue whether SCR or EGR is the right solution to meet EPA 10 … but I think the debate is pointless, because the customer decides.”

And one thing that Hebe and Renschler seem to agree on is that the market HAS decided. They both think that it’s clear. However, Hebe touts the popularity of the MaxxForce, and Renschler, of course, points to the sale of 25,000 Detroit Diesels so far.

So, while both technology camps may be tired of quarreling over it and the fur is no longer flying the way it did last year, there are still a few shots being fired. LL