According to Tom Gosnell, president of Arvin Meritor's Commercial Vehicle Systems division, the trucking industry must address the next round of engine emissions regulations — those that go into effect in 2007 — much differently than it did the '02 regs.

“We need to accelerate the time frame of getting technology to users sooner so they can become comfortable with it,” Gosnell told FLEET OWNER.

This may prevent the kind of pre-buying that took place this year in anticipation of '02 engines.”

Gosnell also said that vehicle life-cycle costs are bound to increase as a result of the '07 emissions regs, but at this point we don't know enough about the technology to be more specific.

However, he stressed that “the economy in general is the bigger question mark.” ArvinMeritor expects the recovery to begin in the second half of 2003.

Since the poor economy has forced many trucking companies out of business, Gosnell observed that “a lot of capacity has come out of the industry,” improving the prospects for surviving carriers.

“The good news is that there will be a real need for equipment,” said Gosnell. He noted that the strong “pre-buy” that took place earlier this year “kept ArvinMeritor's business up. And when these people take delivery of the new trucks, they'll need trailers.”

According to Gosnell, “When pre-buy opportunities ran out, some fleets turned to used equipment, which means they will need aftermarket services.” He added, “The aftermarket went into recession before OEM sales dropped, and will lead the industry to recovery.”