As far as fuel economy is concerned, Williams reports that, compared to the '02 ISX, the '07 test engine is exhibiting a "slight degradation inclusive of use of ULSD." By spec'ing the gearing on new trucks for increased mileage, monitoring rpm at idle, and offering idle-reduction incentives to drivers, the company hopes to counteract that degradation.
Knight Transportation purchases approximately 1,400 trucks a year, or about 175 a month. Williams hasn't seen any reason why the company would alter their purchasing schedule going into 2007.
"It would not be the technology that would be holding us back from purchasing an '07," he says. "If anything, it would be the cost."
Presuming that Knight dives into 2007 with a purchase of new trucks, the only remaining issue is whether the company's technicians will be ready for the new engine and aftertreatment technologies.
Aside from learning a few new fault codes and changing the new crankcase ventilation filter (which Knight has scheduled for every fourth oil change, or approximately every year and a half), Williams expects the maintenance of 2007 engines to be a "non-event" to his shop staff.
"From our perspective, we don't expect to do (PMs) a whole lot different than we do today," he says. "Really, the piece that's new to us is going to be the particulate filter, which is a simple, static filter. There are no moving parts or anything, so we don't expect training to be significant."
At least on a technical level, the transition to 2007 engines may be a non-event for the entire industry, if Knight's test results prove to be typical.
"People hear things, and they exaggerate them in their minds, and fears get passed along that way," Williams says. "There have been rumors about fires, and combustion events, which are unfounded."
Williams just shrugs off the rumors. He and his company have come a long way by trusting their own experience, and they're destined to go a long way further by continuing to do the same.