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May 18, 2010 2:00 PM, EDT
Penske Orders 1,350 New SCR Tractors from Freightliner, Volvo
Company Cites Rising Demand

By Frederick Kiel, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the May 17 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Penske Truck Leasing Co. said that it has ordered 750 new Freightliner Cascadia tractors and 600 VN670 tractors from Volvo Trucks North America, all with 2010 selective catalytic reduction emissions technology, partially because of growing freight demand.

“We’re adding the Freightliner and Volvo units to our commercial truck rental fleet for two reasons,” Randy Ryerson, spokesman for parent company Penske Corp., Reading, Pa., told Transport Topics.

“First, it’s part of our planned regular refreshment of our truck rental fleet,” Ryerson said. “Penske’s philosophy is to always run the newest vehicles, as they provide better fuel economy and reduced emissions as well as more uptime, greater driver comfort and safety.”

He said the second reason was that “we’re also seeing increased demand for commercial rental trucks.”

“Over the last three months, we’ve seen improving demand for commercial rental trucks, and we are currently experiencing a high fleet utilization rate,” Ryerson said. “We attribute this to gradually improving economic conditions and improving freight volumes.”

Daimler Trucks North America, parent company of Freightliner, announced the orders from Penske on May 3, while Volvo issued a statement on May 4.

Ryerson confirmed the numbers issued by both companies.

“We selected these two brands because they meet the 2010 emission standards and because they provide a good value from a total cost of ownership perspective,” Ryerson said.

“The majority of the Freightliner and Volvo units are destined for our commercial truck rental fleet,” he added. “The others will go into the fleets our customers lease from us. These newer units will help us replace the existing 2005 tractors in our commercial rental fleet.”

Ryerson also said that Penske “will continue investing in additional new equipment this year, based on customer demand” and buying from Daimler, Volvo and Navistar Inc., which manufactures International trucks.

Penske Truck Leasing, which ranks No. 7 on the Transport Topics 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers, operates about 62,600 company tractors and 94,750 straight trucks.

Ryerson added that Penske “also purchased a significant number of tractors with pre-2010 emission compliant engines from Navistar this year.”

He declined to give the exact number or to say whether they had engines from Cummins Inc. or Navistar’s own MaxxForce engines.

Navistar spokesman Roy Wiley also declined to give the number of tractors sold to Penske this year.

“For competitive reasons, we don’t want to talk about numbers at this time,” Wiley told TT. “What I can tell you is that our ProStar has been a huge success at Penske, and we are working with them as we transition to all MaxxForce engines. We are confident that we will continue our strong relationship with Penske in 2010 with all classes of International trucks.”

The ProStar is Navistar’s main aerodynamic over-the-road tractor.

Navistar is involved in a rough and tumble battle with the other OEMs this year as the only company to use exhaust gas recirculation to cut nitrogen oxides emissions.

EGR treats nitrogen oxides, the main target of U.S. diesel emission standards that took effect this year, within the engine, while SCR treats NOx in the aftertreatment system.

“At the present time, SCR technology is a proven engine platform that meets the 2010 emission standards,” Ryerson said. “This is of vital importance from an uptime, maintenance and environmental perspective.”

He said that Penske also will consider Navistar’s new technology.

“We will certainly evaluate Navistar’s 2010 emissions-compliant vehicles, once they become available,” Ryerson said.

Navistar has said several times in recent months that it would not begin wide-scale production of its new engines until demand picks up, which it believes will occur this summer (1-25, p. 5).

Truck makers can legally put 2009 engines into 2010 trucks, as long as production of the engines was completed by Dec. 31, 2009.

Daimler said in its statement that Penske ordered “50 Cascadia 113-inch single-axle day cab tractors equipped with Detroit Diesel DD13 engines; 450 Cascadia 125-inch tandem-axle day cab tractors equipped with DD13 engines; and 250 Cascadia 125-inch tractors with a 72-inch raised roof and Detroit Diesel DD15 engines.”

Daimler added that Penske Truck Leasing customers previously have ordered “132 Freightliner Business Class M2 106 trucks with SCR-equipped Cummins engines and 50 Cascadia tractors, equipped with a combination of Cummins ISX, DD13 and DD15 engines.”

Volvo said that 100 units of the order have been built and are being placed in Penske’s commercial truck rental fleet. It added that the remaining 500 VN670s will be produced and delivered over the next several months.

“The Volvo VN670s ordered by Penske are [Environmental Protection Agency] SmartWay-compliant, for increased aerodynamics and fuel efficiency,” Volvo said. “And Volvo’s EPA’10 technology eliminates active regenerations of the diesel particulate filter, which saves additional fuel while also simplifying truck operations.”