Jim Parker, vice-president — Caterpillar Power Systems Marketing Division, delivered a keynote speech about the state of the industry and Caterpillar plans for 2007 engines at the 60th annual meeting of NationaLease, a member-owned system of full-service leasing companies.
With promising market predictions and a strong foundation for 2007 emissions technology, Parker was optimistic about the future. “A growing economy means the upcoming years will be extremely good for business,” Parker said. “Assuming interest rates remain reasonable, equipment and lease-rental services should remain strong through 2006.”
The United States economy is expected to grow by 3.9% in 2005, and the Canadian economy by 4.2%. In addition, the American Trucking Associations truck tonnage should continue its growth pattern from the past several years, with an estimated increase of 4.7% in 2005. The truck market is booming, with an increase of 25% forecast for Class 8 vehicles in 2005, and Class 5-7 is expected to grow by 37%. 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.
Ever-tightening government emissions regulations remain a challenge to the industry. However, Caterpillar already has engines in testing with technology that meets the 2007 Environmental Protection Agency standards, with its ACERT technology, introduced in 2003, serving as the foundation. Caterpillar customers now have more than 120,000 Caterpillar engines with ACERT on the road.
For 2007, ACERT will feature electronics and fuel management systems, as well as closed crankcase ventilation and a diesel particulate filter with active regeneration. Engines and aftertreatment systems are being tested in the Caterpillar engine technology laboratory. In fact, a truck was equipped in 2003 to meet 2007 standards and shown at a US Department of Energy conference in May.
Caterpillar engines for 2007 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 remains 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.