Alphabet soup

The Maintenance Council, a 45-year-old unit of the American Trucking Assns., is changing its name but not its familiar acronym. TMC will now stand for “Technology and Maintenance Council.”

TMC's board says it voted unanimously for the name change to better reflect the council's increased focus on the technical side of fleet management as opposed to dealing with strictly maintenance-related issues. The move also coincides with TMC's absorption of many of the functions previously carried out by the Information and Logistics Council that ATA recently dismantled.

Racing against pollution

Following the maxim that competition breeds innovation, Michelin will stage its “Challenge Bibendum 2001” race for environmentally friendly cars this fall between smoggy Los Angeles and getting-smoggy Las Vegas.

Named after the familiar Michelin Man, the challenge will pit cars powered by so-called clean energy sources, such as diesel, biofuel, natural gas, electricity and fuel cells, against each other over a 270-mile road course.

The October event will end in time for the start of the big Specialty Equipment Market Assn. (SEMA) aftermarket show in Sin City, which will host a display of the race cars.

Naturally, there is a product tie-in. Several of the racers will sport Michelin's PAX tires. According to John Grimaldi, Michelin North America executive vp, the new shoes can cut rolling resistance by 30% depending on vehicle size.

Loads of fun?

A dump truck seen on a Connecticut roadway had its door lettered with this company name: HARRY'S AMUSEMENTS TRUCKING CO.

Although we're sure they wouldn't advocate using it while driving, the folks at Kenwood USA Corp. have rolled out two in-dash DVD players — one boasts a semi-automatic, 6.5-in. touchscreen monitor. Also new is a DVD-based navigation system that Kenwood says will work with its DVD player/touchscreen combo or with stand-alone LCD monitors. The price of attracting and keeping drivers may have just gotten higher.

A neat thing

“The neatest thing you can imagine,” is how Gary Thompson describes the pair of like-new trucks donated by Kenworth Truck Co. and the PACCAR Technical Center to the driving school he oversees at Skagit Valley College. “I can't begin to tell you what this does for our program,” says Thompson. “The trucks were sorely needed. Kenworth and the PACCAR Technical Center came to the rescue with their donation.”

Thompson, department chair for the Mount Vernon, Wash.-based driving school, says students are “absolutely thrilled and excited about getting the Kenworths.” He says the T600 and T800 AeroCabs are a “far cry” from the '88 model trucks they'd been using.

Now in its 16th year, Skagit Valley's Driver School is a six- to nine-month program that boasts a 97% placement record. Thompson notes more than 99% of its grads pass the CDL exam on their first try.

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