Jim Mele


Nationally recognized journalist, author and editor, Jim Mele joined Fleet Owner in 1986 with over a dozen years’ experience covering transportation as a newspaper reporter and magazine staff writer. Fleet Owner Magazine has won over 45 national editorial awards since his appointment as editor-in-chief in 1999.

Aluminum strikes gold for Ford F-150
The move from steel to an all-aluminum bed and cab for the new generation Ford F-150 was widely seen as a big gamble given the F-150’s long success as the biggest selling pickup on the market. But it wasn’t a spur of the moment hunch bet; it was a decision based on validation through years – yes, years – of field testing.
Fleet Owner 500: America's Top Private Fleets 

Although the pace has been glacial, America’s economic recovery finally gained credibility in 2014 and this, our 12th annual Fleet Owner 500 report on America’s top private fleets, reflects that generally good news.

The year ahead 

One of those sages that wander the subways of New York once told me that the early bird may indeed get the worm, but the late worm never gets eaten by the early bird. In that spirit I’ve avoided the January rush of predictions for the new year and saved mine for February, which gives me the chance to also appear sage by collecting and cherry-picking the best of all those informed opinions.

WheelTime opens online tech training to fleets

Created by WheelTime for its network of some 200 independent truck service and parts providers, the Total Tech online training and ASE certification program is now also open to fleets and technical schools. The program will allow fleets without in-house training departments to help their shop personnel acquire the theory, applications and diagnostic skills needed to earn ASE certification as master medium and heavy-duty truck technicians.  

Meritor shows fast-ratio drive axles, light trailer axle

NASHVILLE.  A lighter trailer axle, a 6x2 drive axle and a super-fast ratio tandem were among the new products and services introduced by Meritor (NYSE: MTOR) at the 2015 Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting.  The component manufacturer also displayed a new automatic tire inflation system for linehaul tractors and announced a new programming tool that will speed up delivery of replacement electronic control units for pneumatic ABS.

SAF-Holland unveils expanded electronic parts catalog

LAS VEGAS.  A new parts-on-demand (POD) electronic catalog with information on over 15,000 parts was introduced by suspension-fifth wheel manufacturer SAF-Holland at Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week. 

Meritor Aftermarket expands brake, suspension, wheel-end product lines

LAS VEGAS.  A major expansion of its air disc brake offerings, a lightweight brake drum, and a broadened all-makes product line of Euclid suspension parts were among the announcements by Meritor Inc.’s Aftermarket business at the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week.  The company also said it will create a network of approved independent service providers and added new wheel-end products, as well as announced its financial support for a program that helps wounded veterans transition into business and community leadership roles.

Spending on truck parts over $26 billion and growing

LAS VEGAS.  Demand for truck and trailer parts grew roughly 2% in 2014 to $26.19 billion dollars, and it will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace this year and through 2019, according to John Blodgett, VP of sales and marketing for MacKay & Co. 

Forecast: economy will continue to grow in 2015

LAS VEGAS. The current U.S. economic expansion, now 67 months old, will continue through 2015 and with it continued growth in trucking's economic activity, according to economist Dr. Bob Dieli of RDLB Inc. Bill Strauss, senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, seconded that forecast when he joined Dieli on a panel opening the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Dialogue conference.

The road to the self-driving truck  1

Is the self-driving truck this century’s flying car, or is it a true technological breakthrough that will transform the lives of drivers and the operations of fleets that employ them?

The ghost in the machine 

Most of the breathless media attention being paid to self-driving, or autonomous vehicles, has focused on the technology involved.  And for good reason.  The advances in hardware and software are quite astonishing.  They’ve given us trucks and cars that can sense impending danger and then do something about it to either completely avoid or greatly mitigate disastrous outcomes.  And the technology promises to do even more, much more actually, as it extends in the relatively near future into active control of complex vehicle operations like autonomous steering, navig

A tank half empty 

Trucks consume a lot of fuel. The vast majority of it is petroleum-based diesel and gasoline, and fuel is the single largest operating expense for any fleet.  So the current drop in oil prices is very good for the trucking business. Or is it?

The state of trucking 

Trucking has undergone a major transformation in the past five years as fleets have re-examined every aspect of their operations from equipment to business plans.  Think about just a few of the major issues fleets have had to address in recent years: evaluating new fuel options, navigating basic changes to safety regulations, a rapid evolution in truck technologies, a slow-growth economic recovery, and the list goes on. 

Mapping for success 

Company: Schilli Transportation Services, Remington, IN

Operation: Dry van and flatbed truckload services as the trucking arm of a full-service logistics management company


A good impression 

Whether it’s morning traffic reports, accident videos on the evening news, or ominous threats in movie thrillers, trucks are often portrayed as the bad guys in the media.  And, fairly or not, trucks seem to be routinely blamed by the auto-driving public for air pollution, traffic congestion, dangerous highways, and just about any ill connected to motor vehicles. 

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