Brian Straight

Managing Editor

Brian joined Fleet Owner in May 2008 after spending nearly 14 years as sports editor and then managing editor of several daily newspapers.  He and his staff  won more than two dozen major writing and editing awards. Responsible for editing, editorial production functions and deadlines.

Fatherly advice 

The more I hear and read about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the closer the agency seems to resemble a typical American father—like myself.  There are plenty of times my kids love me, like when I get outside and play on the swings with them, or take them bike-riding, or even help them with their homework.  Then there are other times when they hate me because it was clearly my fault you threw the book at your brother and hit him in the head.  Yes, not throwing books at your brother is a rule.  Hey, I mean well.

Optimus primed to save fuel 

Last year, a startup business in Pittsburgh, PA, was looking for a fleet willing to test its biofuel conversion system.  It turns out that the firm, Optimus Technologies, didn’t need to go far to find such a fleet, garnering interest from its home city of Pittsburgh.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on is being a laboratory for new technologies, and with Optimus being a local firm, this was a great [opportunity],” says Grant Ervin, sustainability manager for the city.

Peterbilt Commitment to Class Customer Event

Peterbilt Motors Co. held a 2-day event in Texas for customers to learn more about the Peterbilt product offerings and also those of its suppliers. As part of the event, attendees had the opportunity  to drive several Peterbilt models, including the 579 and 567 models and a vehicle powered by a new compressed natural gas system from Quantum Fuel Systems. There was also the chance to take a few laps as a passenger in a NASCAR race car at the Texas Motor Speedway.

Suppliers detail Peterbilt product offerings

DENTON, Texas. Attendees to the Commitment to Class Customer Event, held over two days by Peterbilt Motors Co. this week in Texas, were treated to a number of product updates from some of the OEM’s biggest suppliers, including Eaton, Bendix, Bridgestone, Cummins, Allison, Michelin and Meritor. While most of the presentations were product specific, there was some news shared, including an update on a potential federal rulemaking on an electronic stability control mandate for commercial vehicles.

A natural alternative

FT. WORTH, Texas. Since 2006, the cost to fuel an on-highway tractor, assuming no change to mpg, has increased $25,000 per year due to the increased price of diesel alone. That is the hard fact that Robert Woodall, director of sales & marketing for Peterbilt Motors Co. told the assembled audience of Peterbilt customers here on Wednesday as part of the Commitment to Class Customer Event.

And that is why alternative fuels, particularly natural gas, are gaining market share so quickly.

Peterbilt provides market update, announces automated transmission for NG models

FT. WORTH, Texas. Peterbilt Motors Co. announced new automated transmission options for several of its natural gas vehicles as part of a wide-ranging event in Ft. Worth, Texas on Wednesday. The OEM’s Commitment to Class Customer Event featured a number of customers, suppliers and Peterbilt product experts speaking on the industry, Peterbilt products, and natural gas.

Washington-based manufacturer eyes entry into COE truck market

Left holding a dual-steer street sweeper chassis design following the closure of a customer about 2 ½ years ago, Gary Jones and his team debated what to do.

“When the company went under, we said ‘what are we going to do?’” Jones told Fleet Owner. “So I said, ‘why not just build a truck? The more we got into it, the more we kind of liked it.”

CEO charged about Smith Electric's future

In a recent Dept. of Energy filing, Smith Electric Vehicles said that is has stopped shipping trucks and step vans with its Generation II system to customers “due to the company’s tight cash flow situation.” The company confirmed that it has halted production at its Kansas City facility as part of a “planned and temporary shutdown” with hopes that production will resume in 2-3 months time.

Smith Electric Vehicles through the years

A recent regulatory filing and report in a local newspaper said that Smith Electric Vehicles had stopped producing its all-electric medium-duty trucks late in 2013. Co-founder and CEO Bryan Hansel said that is true, but with the company expected to announce a new round of financing in the coming weeks, Hansel said he has "never felt better about our future than I do now."

Fuel invoice errors could be draining fleet profits

When Pilot Flying J corporate headquarters were raided by FBI and IRS officers in April 2013, it brought immediate and widespread attention to an issue that trucking fleets deal with on a daily basis: fuel prices.

Alternative fuels: Beyond natural gas

To suggest that natural gas is now the only choice for fleets looking to get into the alternative fuel arena is to shortchange the other options. There are many, from long-standing choices like propane autogas and biodiesel to the soon-to-be available dimethyl ether (DME) and maybe even hydrogen.  And fleets are certainly interested. To read more about the options available today, click here.

Alt fuels: Beyond natural gas 

Since the dawn of time, it seems, diesel fuel has ruled the landscape for powering commercial vehicles.  Sure, every few years a new “fuel of the future” pops up and becomes the darling of the alternative fuel world.  Right now, that fuel is natural gas, either in compressed or liquefied form.  The benefits of natural gas are many: abundant supply, a domestic fuel, low emissions, almost equivalent power and torque to diesel engines, and low price compared to diesel.  Because of this, almost no one believes natural gas will disappear as a fuel; rather, the exp

Green Fleet of the Month: Natural fit 

Looking to find a way to more closely align its trucking fleet with its image as a recycler, Valley Proteins turned to PacLease for its solution.  Working through its local PacLease franchise, MHC Truck Leasing in Charlotte, NC, Valley Proteins put 10 compressed natural gas tractors into its fleet in Gastonia, NC.

“When we decided that we wanted to be an early adopter of natural gas trucks and not sit on the sidelines, we looked at all our options, and PacLease was clearly the leasing company to work with,” says Richard Evans, fleet manager.

Filling seats the social way 

By now you have probably seen—or at least heard about— the “Epic Split” video produced by Volvo Trucks in Europe.  The viral video, which had garnered more than 65 million views on YouTube by the end of 2013 despite only being released on Nov. 14, shows actor Jean-Claude Van Damme demonstrating the precision of Volvo’s dynamic steering on its FM truck models by doing a split between two moving trucks.

Smart shipping 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership has had a profound effect on trucking since its debut in 2004.  The program estimates that partners in the effort have eliminated 28 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, resulting in a savings of 65 million barrels of oil and $8.1 billion in fuel costs.  If not an outright member, many trucking operations have at least adopted some fuel-saving initiatives verified by the program.

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