Judging by the record crowds and the number of new trucks and products introduced at the 2012 Mid- America Trucking Show, trucking has not only recovered from the economic downturn, but it’s preparing for a bright future. Not only were there significant new truck models on the show floor, but there was much positive news about developments promising to lower fuel costs for the industry and boost truck productivity.

Every year for three days in late March, the Kentucky State Fairgrounds in Louisville turns into a great celebration of trucking and the people who make this industry hum. This year, 81,000 people from all 50 states and 77 countries enjoyed what has become trucking’s major North American showcase for new equipment and products, as well as the latest news from truck manufacturers, component makers, trailer builders, and other suppliers of products and services.

Adding to the festivities this year was an all-new event, the MATS Fleet Forum, an all-day educational conference for fleet executives co-sponsored by Fleet Owner. Held the day before the show opened, it addressed a broad range of critical issues and included a questionand- answer session with the current head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. There was also a panel of engineers and technologists from the major truck makers and component suppliers talking about the future of truck equipment.

For those unable to get to Louisville this year, the following 18 pages offer full coverage of over two dozen press conferences, as well as the major news announcements. You’ll find details on three entirely new truck models, and major developments in engines, transmissions and other components.

If there was one common conversation on the show floor— beyond business is good—it was about the potential of natural gas. Our roundup includes reports on new natural gas engines and truck models, as well as other developments that may deliver on that promise. In related news, the upcoming federal standards for heavy-truck fuel economy captured a good deal of attention and provided the motivation for a number of new products, all of which are included in this year’s show coverage.

It was a busy but productive three days. For those unable to join the fun this year, here then is Fleet Owner’s decidedly upbeat report on the 41st Mid-America Trucking Show.