Fontaine Trailer is rolling out a new line of aluminum flatbed trailers at a time when rising steel prices are making aluminum a much less costly option, said Mike Monroe, the company’s director of fleet sales.
“Over the last 18 months, the price of aluminum has climbed about 4.7%, while steel has increased almost 169%,” he said at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting. “That makes aluminum a much better value than it used to be and closes the price gap with steel – making aluminum trailers on average now 25% more costly than steel trailers instead of 40%.”
The new Phantom line consists of three models: the 48-foot 2-rear post Phantom ST, with a payload of 65,000 lbs and an 80,000 lb beam rating; the Phantom, offering 43, 48, and 53-foot options with a 65,000 lb payload and 80,000 lb rating; and the Phantom X, offering 48 and 45-foot lengths and either 70,000 or 73,000 lb payload configuration, with a beam rating of 110,000 lbs.
Buck Buchanan, Fontaine’s vp-fleet sales, said the key design feature of the Phantom line is its patent pending extruded aluminum main beam – a single 12-in beam that isn’t welded together, thus offering maximum corrosion resistance, more strength, and better sideways stiffness. He said this design not only adds to its payload capacity but reduces “backslap” to make it easier for drivers to maneuver.
Buchanan also noted that Fontaine is making some internal changes as it gears up to start producing the Phantom line starting in mid-March. Fontaine is going to build the Phantom at its Kent, OH, plant, which came with the purchase of rival trailer maker Ravens three years ago. As a result, the Ravens line of trailers is being discontinued. Fontaine is also setting up two production lines to build the Phantom – one for fleets and one for dealers, he noted.
“Fleets customize their trailers, whereas dealers want more ‘cookie cutter’ models all built to the same spec,” Buchanan said. “This way we can meet both of those market needs yet boost production efficiency and through-put on our end.”