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The market in Mexico

A VAN trailer designed specifically for Mexico's new size and weight laws was among the new products seen at Expo Transporte, Mexico's annual trucking industry exhibition.

The event, held November 17-19 in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, featured the exhibits from 280 companies and almost 350,000 square feet of displays. Exhibiting companies came from 10 countries, and the 26,000 visitors were drawn from 23 nations.

Here is a sample of what they saw:

Utility rolls out new van trailer for the Mexico market

Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, City of Industry, California, announced the introduction of the new 4000D-X 80K series of dry vans designed specifically to meet new Mexican trailer regulations. The trailer was on display for the first time at Expo Transporte

The new 4000D-X 80K was developed specifically to comply with the new Mexican regulations published on December 23, 2003, NOM-EM-010-SCFI-2003 titled “Safety Requirements for Trailers and Semi trailers.” The 4000D-X 80K meets or exceeds all of the specific regulations.

“The new 4000D-X 80K series represents the latest in durable, productive, and versatile trailers,” said Craig Bennett, senior vice-president of marketing and sales for Utility Trailer. “We have a well-established reputation of providing quality trailers for the Mexico market, and the new 4000D-X 80K is the latest example of a long line of quality trailers that exemplify the innovation and quality that has kept us 90 years strong.”

The new 4000D-X 80K features a patented, steel lined “sandwich” wall design that offers a full 101" of ID width from wearband to wearband. The 4000D-X 80K new, wider inside width will accommodate a large variety of load types and also provides load securement with A-slot posts every 24" of the trailer length.

Additional attributes, such as a galvanized 80,000-psi high-tensile steel low-profile wearband, make the 4000D-X 80K one of the most versatile trailers on the market today. The trailer also has a 50,000-lb capacity air suspension and higher capacity wheels. Specific steps taken for the Mexico market include a special vehicle identification number plate and tire pressure information in Spanish.

The trailer manufacturer certainly has grown over the nearly century in business. Last year, strong demand for Utility's refrigerated trailers and dry vans spurred plant expansions in Virginia and Arkansas.

Employing more than 700 people and in operation since 1989, Utility's Smyth County Virginia facility increased its production capability for the 3000R refrigerated trailer with an $11.5 million investment. Responding to increasing demand for its dry vans, Utility expanded its Paragould, Arkansas, plant.

Centrally located to conveniently serve the United States, as well as Mexico, the Paragould plant now has a second assembly line. Encompassing about 80,000 square feet, the added capacity will allow Utility Trailer to keep up with demand for its 3000D dry van as well as meet growing demand for the 4000D-X. It is anticipated that the $4 million expansion will add approximately 100 jobs to the local economy.

New ArvinMeritor suspension designed for North America

ARVINMERITOR Inc announced a new trailer suspension specifically designed for Mexico and vocational applications in the United States and Canada. The suspension debuted at Expo Transporte November 17-19, 2004, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

The RideStar RFS30T builds on proven RFS Series suspension technology and adds features to offer more durability to handle the heavier duty loads associated with this segment. The new suspension is engineered for 30,000 pounds gross axle weight rated applications and will be available beginning February 2005.

“The RFS30T was expressly engineered for our fleet and owner-operator customers in Mexico, and those operating extreme-duty vocational trailers, such as tankers, in the United States and Canada,” said Jim Sharkey, business unit director for North American trailer systems. “The more robust design includes heavier duty componentry to manage the tough loads experienced in these applications.”

As with all RideStar suspensions, the RFS30T offers an exceptional ride. An exclusive bushing design utilizes interleaf shims for greater fore and aft stiffness to help address potential backslap. Specially developed shocks work directly with the RFS suspension geometry to increase damping force, resulting in less fatigue damage, improved braking performance, and longer tire life. Meritor axles and brakes are a standard feature of this series.

Unique to the RFS30T is its heavier axle beam for added durability and more robust rebound straps to help prevent the suspension from overextending the shocks and air springs.

Fox plans to scrap oldest trucks

In an effort to get the oldest trucks off Mexico's highways, the federal government wants to institute a new sales incentive program, Mexico's President Vicente Fox said November 17, 2004, at the opening of Expo Transporte ANPACT in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Details on the program probably will not be finalized until sometime in 2005.

Trucks targeted for replacement under the program are at least 20 years old, and the plan is to scrap the vehicles taken in trade. The program is expected to generate additional sales of 15,000 new trucks.

Fox said the program is targeted at smaller trucking companies. Many of these small fleet operators find it difficult to obtain the investment funds needed to purchase new vehicles.

This is actually a relaunch of a fleet investment program that was first announced in 2003. That initiative also had a target of 15,000 trucks, but only 486 vehicles qualified under the program.

Juan José Guerra Abud, president of the Asociación Nacional de Productores de Autobuses, Camiones, and Tractocamiones (ANPACT), said the first program foundered because too many bureaucratic obstacles stood in its way.

Fox said steps are being taken to correct the problems that weakened the first replacement program. For one thing, the government will handle rebates to the fleets, rather than put that responsibility on the truck dealers.

Fox also announced plans to widen and modernize the federal highways in Mexico before the end of his presidential term in 2006. The improvements are needed to ensure that Mexico remains economically competitive in the international markets.

Mexico truck fleets optimistic

MEXICO'S trucking industry experienced a significant growth spurt over the past three years.

The number of trucking companies in Mexico has grown by 6.5% over the past three years to a total of 10,500, according to statistics from various Mexican government sources including the Secretariat de Comunicaciones y Transporte (SCT). Carriers hauled approximately 426 million tonnes (469.5 million tons) of cargo in 2004.

Small and medium fleets predominate in Mexico, with the largest fleets (100 trucks or more) accounting for just 11% of the total. These carriers run a combined fleet of 185,534 trucks. In addition, at least 88,296 owner-drivers (each with one to five trucks) are in the business, and they operate 230,313 trucks.

New Hendrickson suspension

HENDRICKSON officials announced the launch of the HTB rear air suspension for Class 8 trucks in late 2004. The new suspension was on display at Expo Transporte November 17-19, in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

The lightweight, non-torque reactive suspension offers additional advantages of a smooth ride and low maintenance. It will be available for sale in 2005 as a premium, improved-riding alternative to industry standard suspensions.

The lightest suspension in class at 570 pounds including axle brackets, HTB saves up to 257 pounds over industry-standard 40,000-pound-capacity suspensions.

The weight savings is attributed to HTB's optimized design featuring parallelogram geometry that eliminates leaf springs and reduces components.

“HTB's parallelogram geometry eliminates the frame rise that is characteristic of trailing arm suspensions,” said Michael Brannigan, Hendrickson program manager. “Driveline angles are maintained throughout axle travel, thereby minimizing suspension induced driveline vibration.”

Reduced torsional vibration contributes to the longevity of such driveline components as the transmission, differential and U-joints; reduces noise and vibration, and provides a better ride, Brannigan added.

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