Navistar, GM ink deal

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Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire signed a seven-year agreement with TravelCenters of America to sell Bridgestone and Firestone commercial tires at sites operated by TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers. Bridgestone also becomes the exclusive premium commercial tire offered by TravelCenters of America and Petro:Lube truck maintenance and repair centers.

Volvo Trucks North America voluntarily is recalling 125,000 Class 8 trucks to replace circuit breakers that might cause fires, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website. Volvo says the models affected are the VHD, VNL and VNM, all from years 2003-2008, and the VT from years 2005, 2007 and 2008. Truck owners will be contacted by Feb. 25 and asked to bring their trucks to a dealership to have the circuit breakers replaced with fuses. Call Volvo at 800-528-6586.

The Internal Revenue Service posted on its website, www.irs.gov, a list of vehicles that qualify for tax credits as either qualified alternative fuel motor vehicles that are powered by such fuels as natural gas or hydrogen, or qualified heavy hybrid vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds that are powered by both consumable fuel and rechargeable energy storage systems.

Penske Truck Leasing opened its $6 million facility in Quebec City. It’s 18,000 square feet and is designed for full-service leasing and contract maintenance.

The Aftermarket Business Unit of Webb Wheel Products entered into a alliance with TMD Friction to couple brake drums and friction linings.

Navistar International’s tentative agreement to purchase General Motors’ medium-duty truck business enables Navistar to sell Kodiaks and TopKicks, as well as related service parts, through GM’s dealer network in the United States and Canada. Announcing the deal in late December, GM says it wants to concentrate on its passenger car and light truck business.

“Navistar’s expertise in building International brand commercial trucks and its track record in the medium-duty segment makes them an excellent choice to acquire and continue growing the business,” says Troy Clarke, president of GM North America. “We intend to work closely with Navistar to make this transition seamless to our dealers and customers.”

Reportedly, the Kodiak and TopKick model names will remain, but Navistar officials concede there is a chance that the models eventually could be powered by International engines. Vehicles built under the GM/Isuzu joint venture are not part of the deal.

“This is another example of how we’re strategically growing our business for trucks, engines and parts, building scale and reducing costs,” says Daniel Ustian, chairman and chief executive officer of Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar International. “We are proud to incorporate the GM truck brands into our portfolio, and will utilize the scale to build on the success of both the International and GM product lines and their respective distribution networks.”


KW on the green
Kenworth’s low-emitting liquefied natural gas (LNG) trucks recently were featured at the opening of a major LNG truck fueling station in Southern California, which will be operated by Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and is located at Southern Counties Express.

The 10 Kenworth T800 LNG trucks soon will be placed into service by Southern Counties. The trucks, which will become the first T800 LNG trucks to operate at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, are equipped with modified Cummins ISX 15-liter engines.

In addition to T800 LNG trucks, Kenworth’s green initiative also includes the Environmental Protection Agency SmartWay program and medium-duty hybrid-electric trucks. And as a battery-based no-idle system, the Kenworth Clean Power solution complies with California Air Resources Board idling regulations.

The advantage of LNG is higher energy density than compressed natural gas (CNG), and requires less space-robbing tankage. While it has to be kept cold in a Thermos-like container, LNG can be vaporized readily for combustion. The engine doesn’t know the difference by the time combustion takes place.


Survey finds most plan to buy in ’08
As part of its Q4 2007 Fleet Sentiment Report inquiry, CK Commercial Vehicle Research (www.ckcvr.com) included questions about 2008 equipment buying plans. Fifty-nine for-hire, private and government fleet managers responded to the questionnaire. While the majority surveyed – 78 percent – indicated they planned to buy power equipment in 2008, many will wait until the second quarter of ’08 or later, and for 32 percent of them, the number of power units to be purchased will be less than a typical buy.

With regard to trailer purchases, fewer fleets surveyed – 64 percent – planned to buy trailers in 2008. Of those, 68 percent indicated their purchases would represent a typical number of units for their fleet. A small percentage of those fleets surveyed did indicate their equipment purchases in 2008 may be more than a typical number – 14 percent for power units and 11 percent for trailers.Complete Q4 2007 FSR survey results are reported in the November-December issue of the Fleet Sentiment Report, a quarterly report of CK Commercial Vehicle Research.


Turbos take the stage
A North American diesel-engine pickup now offers a new technology for meeting emissions and economy challenges. International Truck and Engine and Ford Motor Co. have enhanced the PowerStroke 6.4-liter V8 diesel engine with BorgWarner’s Turbo & Emissions System regulated two-stage turbocharger.

The turbo system consists of two differently sized turbochargers arranged in series. The smaller high-pressure turbocharger reportedly responds spontaneously at low engine speeds, while the larger low-pressure unit is responsible for providing boost at higher engine speeds. In order to make the infinitely variable adaptation of the turbine side to the compressor side, a turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG) is used in the high-pressure stage. Adjustment of the VTG guide vanes is ensured by an electric actuator motor.

The revised engine will be installed under the name PowerStroke in Ford’s F series of heavy-duty pickup trucks – the F-250, F-350, F-450 and F-550 – as well as in light trucks from International, where it goes by the name of MaxxForce7.

The innovations in the improved engine are claimed to be beneficial to the environment, while not compromising power or fuel efficiency.


EquipmentPuzzler
In December, we asked: In early posters of Bib, the “betired” Michelin man, he’s seen raising a glass of nails and glass, proclaiming, “Nunc est bibendum.” What does that mean? The correct answer – “Now is the time to drink” – was supplied first by Bob Walter, director of commercial driver training at Spoon River College of Canton, Ill. Bob will receive a CCJ pen and Air Brake Book.

And so can you, if you’re the first to e-mail prichards@ccjmagazine.com with the correct answer to this month’s Puzzler, or if you send in a Puzzler of your own. If we use it, you win, as does Darry Rutledge – service manager of Stoops Freightliner-Quality Trailer, based in Fortville, Ind. – for sending in this month’s Puzzler.

This month’s Puzzler: How did the light, penetrating lubricant, WD-40, get its name?