Jim Mele

Jim
Mele
Editor-in-chief

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.

Articles
Dealer service faces changing landscape

NAPA, CA.  The relationship truck dealers have with their customers, their truck manufacturer and even with one another are in the midst of a radical restructuring intended to vastly improve service and total cost of ownership for fleets and other users, according to a panel of dealers speaking at a Daimler Trucks North America press event.

Already onboard 

Company: Pason Systems Corp., Calgary, Alberta

Operation: Oil field services centered on managing and analyzing drilling data

Problem:

Pason knows quite a bit about collecting data remotely and using it to improve efficiency. The oil field services company provides customers with hardware and software to monitor drilling operations and well production.

Hours vs. miles 

The floodgates have opened. In the past two months, I’ve gotten press releases on a daily basis from fleets announcing increases in driver pay. Sometimes it’s for just one division, others for the entire operation. Some are relatively small fleets, others among the largest. Often they’re trumping the fleet’s second or third increase this year. And the increases are substantial, reaching as high as 25%. 

A bird in hand 

Within the next month, we should finally get details on federal regulations intended to push heavy-truck fuel economy to much higher levels over the next 10 to 15 years. Known generally as Phase II of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions requirements, official publication of the rules will undoubtedly set off a new round of argument and debate over the costs for any new technology needed to meet them and the projected payback for fleets paying the bills.

First test drive: Mercedes-Benz Metris Cargo Van

Mercedes-Benz Vans USA rolled out two pre-production models of its new Metris mid-size van for a 200-mi. plus test drive through the mountains of western Colorado. Though actual production of the new van won't begin until later this year, MB brought the two -- one a Cargo Van, the other an 8-passenger van -- to Dunton Hot Springs near Durango to let the press get their first driving impressions over hundreds of scenic miles climbing to over 10,000 ft. and cruising down twisting two-lane country roads.

Mercedes-Benz Metris, the Goldilocks of cargo vans

DUNTON, CO. When it’s new mid-size Metris van hits dealer showrooms in October, Mercedes-Benz Vans USA believes it will prove to be just the right size and price for the U.S. commercial van market, according to Bernie Glaser,VP and managing director of the new MB business division.

Volvo: Connectivity will reshape trucking

NEWPORT, RI. The heavy-duty truck of the future could be a tractor with no physical fifth wheel but only wireless connections to a train of smart self-propelled trailers, according to Jeff Cotner, chief designer, exterior for Volvo Trucks North America. Such smart trailers could disconnect themselves from the road train, traveling the last mile to a final destination autonomously, he told an audience of dealers and fleet customers at a symposium here during a stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race.

Talk of the show 

For anyone in the trucking industry, it’s the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), not the return of the robin, that signals the beginning of spring.  And while the weather in Louisville this year didn’t feel very spring-like, the record crowd walking around the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center was in a celebratory mood as a warming economy has returned profitable and abundant freight, not to mention some of the strongest truck sales in nearly a decade.

A gathering of the tribes 

If you’re in trucking or a related business of any kind, March in Louisville is probably on your calendar.  Whether you own a fleet, manage one, drive for one or sell essential goods and services to the industry, the Mid-America Trucking Show is a meeting of the trucking tribes, the one annual event that brings out everyone.

Heavy-duty fleets still buying natural gas trucks say OEMs

DALLAS. Sales of heavy-duty trucks powered by natural gas remain strong despite significantly lower diesel prices, according to a panel of truck OEM executives at the 2015 ACT Expo and Conference.  The consensus opinion is that fleets committed to the alternative fuel are continuing to add new NG trucks, while those that have been on the sideline considering purchases remain on the sideline for the time being.

Pickens predicts natural gas will retain price advantage

DALLAS. Despite current low prices for oil, natural gas will continue to provide a cost advantage for major energy consumers like heavy-duty truck fleets, according to T. Boone Pickens, chairman and CEO of BP Capital and a major proponent of and investor in domestic natural gas since 1988.

Rush launches CNG fuel systems company

DALLAS.  Rush Enterprises, the country’s largest truck dealership network, is expanding into the alternative fuels arena with a new compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel systems company.  Momentum Fuel Technologies momentumfueltech.comwill design, manufacture, sell and service complete CNG systems for Class 6 through 8 trucks, according to Rush president and CEO W.M. Rusty Rush. 

NA heavy-duty market attracting global investment

With international heavy-duty markets stagnant or depressed, North America’s strong sales and rosy forecasts are proving attractive to global industry suppliers like Denso Corp. of Japan, which has just announced it will add heavy-duty and commercial vehicle research and development programs to its U.S.

Devolution deniers 

The idea has appealing simplicity—instead of raising federal fuel taxes to pay for infrastructure rebuilding, cut it and let each state determine how much money it needs, which can then be raised through local fuel or sales taxes. It’s called devolution, and the theory behind it is that shifting control to the states will result in more efficient spending of our transportation investments and overall lower costs. 

DTNA adding capacity as Class 8 sales keep growing

LOUISVILLE. With Class 8 sales in the U.S. “the driving force,”  medium- and heavy-duty truck sales in North America this year will grow 10% over a very solid 2014 and could quite possibly be even higher, according to Martin Daum, president and CEO of Daimler Trucks North America.

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