Going to Bat for CAT

Quad/Graphics gives CAT '07 engines a test run.

There's the rub: projections suggest that many fleets have made similar plans. Is the solid feedback from testing programs coming a little too late? Drake's fleet has been masterminding their '07 purchasing decisions for the past several years.

"We started back before the first round of emissions standards for '02," he explains. "We had a large truck buy in '98-'99, and what we tried to do is, versus having a large truck buy every couple of years, we spread it out. So we took some trucks and ran them longer; we got rid of some trucks a bit earlier—tried to level the field so we could buy X number of trucks per year. That's how we positioned ourselves here, so we started way back long ago." For Drake, the issue seems to be more about cost than the capabilities of these new engines: "Before we took delivery of the test trucks, we decided to move our plans up to complete purchases in 2006 due to the cost increases related to 2007 trucks."

So it seems that perhaps, no matter how swiftly the '07 fears are assuaged, engine manufacturers are up against years of the kinds of preparations that will precipitate their sales slumps. CAT, however, does not seem much dissuaded.

"It's somebody like John, and the success he's had with these engines, that is helping us continue to move in that direction—that our engines are, in fact, what we claim them to be," Sondag says. "We use the success that we had with Quad/Graphics, a bellwether fleet in Wisconsin, to take the word out onto the street, to encourage others in '07 to buy these engines. We're using the success we're having in the field to promote that sale in the future."

And for Quad, despite the fact that they weren't planning to purchase even when they took on the new engines for testing, it was all about improving their knowledge of the upcoming products most critical to the market. "We have done CAT testing a couple times in the past, and helping CAT out with testing also lets us learn about the new engines and technologies," Drake says. "It was a good fit for us at Quad. When we set out to do something, we want to test so we can benefit; other people can benefit—to find out what we needed to find out, to take us into the future. Because that's our future sitting out there."

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