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.

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.

International waiving remote diagnostics fee

LOUISVILLE.  The remote diagnostics system OnCommand Connection (OCC) will be offered as a standard no-charge option on all new International trucks starting in July.  Navistar officials also announced at the Mid America Trucking Show that it would offer credits to new truck buyers to cover the cost of basic telematics hardware and data service. 

Current owners of 2007 and newer International trucks will also be given the opportunity to add OCC remote diagnostics at free of charge though local dealers, the company said. 

Mobile success 

Company: AB Moving, Allen, TX

Operation: Intrastate moving service specializing in homes, apartments and businesses in Dallas/Ft. Worth and Austin areas.


Wow, then whoa 

Ever since I was a kid watching rocket-launch countdowns, I’ve been fascinated by the gee-whiz factor of new technology.  The pace of development has followed an exponential curve since those quaint days of Apollo, leaving no shortage of things to spark amazement and wonder.  In fact, the pace is so fast that a new technology can move from wow to ho-hum in a matter of days.

Daimler will build Sprinters in the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest $500 million to build a new van plant in Charleston, SC, and begin production of the next-generation Sprinter there in 2016.  Currently the Daimler van group builds U.S. market Sprinters in Germany. The vans are disassembled and shipped to the U.S. for reassembly in a small Charleston facility to avoid high commercial vehicle duties known colloquially as “the chicken tax.”

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.

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