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November 21, 2008 2:00 PM, EST

ABF to Buy SCR Trucks for 2010, Exec Says

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — ABF Freight System will use diesel engines with selective catalytic reduction technology starting in 2010, but the less-than-truckload carrier has not decided upon the truck maker it will use.

Chief Operating Officer Wes Kemp said in a Nov. 16 press conference here that the carrier has been a Sterling Trucks buyer. However, Sterling parent Daimler Trucks said it will discontinue the brand in 2009.

Kemp said he does not feel bound to move to Freightliner, Daimler’s flagship brand in North America.

“Any brand is fair game,” Kemp said, adding that ABF will go with SCR rather than the exhaust gas recirculation system offered by Navistar Inc. because he thinks SCR will get better fuel mileage.

Given those two guidelines, ABF could then shop among four other original equipment manufacturers: Mack and Volvo Trucks within Volvo AB or Kenworth and Peterbilt within Paccar Inc.

The Fort Smith, Ark., carrier may even engage in a small pre-buy next year, Kemp said, so it will not have to buy the early SCR production in 2010. Truckload carriers rather than LTLs have typically been leaders in the pre-buy strategy to avoid engines made immediately after a change in pollution-control technology.