Walking the long, long floor

It’s been a good many years since I’ve attended the NTEA’s Work Truck Show, and I don’t recall it being as large and busy as it was this year. The show had numerous worthwhile sessions and workshops, and row after row after row of exhibits and displays. The event started off rather poorly and painfully for me. My spiffy new dress shoes rubbed large sores on the back of my feet. So raw did these spots become that I became a regular visitor to the convention center’s first aid station. Buts thanks to lots of ointment, gauze and tape, I was able to maneuver - albeit every so slowly and awkwardly, the entire show. In his convention address, NTEA president Andy Outcalt, president of Meyer Products and Swenson Spreader, noted: “Today’s business environment has presented more unique challenges than any other time in history. Unprecedented declines in industry sales, business bankruptcies, government bailouts and the credit crisis have all made this a most historic year.” The mood among attendees was generally upbeat. The consensus was that the truck industry is on the slow road to recovery. When and how strong the recovery will be was one prediction no one was willing to make. Along with the latest in trucks and equipment on display, there was a lot of advanced vehicle technology, as well as the latest in green initiatives. One of the show opportunities I took advantage of was the green truck ride-and-drive. I got behind the wheel of vehicles powered by a Bosch Rexroth hydraulic drive system, all-electric (battery) drive system, Eaton parallel electric hybrid drive system, Cummins Westport CNG fuel system, Odyne Plug-in electric hydraulic (parallel) drive system and compressed natural gas using the Baker Evotek fuel system. I was pleasantly surprised with how the vehicles responded - adequate power and quite operation, among other things. I didn’t get a chance to “get under the hood” of the vehicles, though as the line of people waiting to drive was long, so I couldn’t check out serviceability features and issues. I’d like to hear from those of you who have worked on green vehicle power systems. What have been your experiences - good and bad?