Government and safety representatives are willing to look at bigger and heavier trucks if the industry can prove they’re safer and easier on the roads, said Freightliner President and CEO Jim Hebe Tuesday at a press conference at the company’s Portland, OR, headquarters.

Freightliner’s Argosy concept vehicle, which featured a 58-foot Wabash concept trailer behind the new Argosy cabover, did not go over very well. But Hebe says “the industry and government can work together in a trade-off between productivity and safety.”
As for some fleets’ concerns that longer trailers only mean getting paid the same amount for carrying more freight, Hebe’s position is that fleets need to get better at charging for the improved productivity.
Hebe also told reporters that 1998 was the best year Freightliner has ever had, passing Navistar as the largest maker of commercial vehicles in Class 4-8. Business Class production at Freightliner’s Mount Holly plant nearly doubled from the previous year. Hebe is looking for more of the same in 1999, and is expecting no recession. He predicts Freightliner will build 176,000 trucks this year.
Freightliner is also being very aggressive in expanding its presence on the World Wide Web. The company believes the customer has the right to know everything he wants to know about his truck, and with a growing number of trucks being spec’ed with PC plug-ins, the Internet is a great way to deliver that information. As a result, Freightliner is offering maintenance and driver manuals for all its models online, and will offer repair manuals online later this year. Eventually, truck owners will be able to type in their VIN number and get all the information on their specific vehicle. The company is partnering with Microsoft to develop e-commerce with a sky’s-the-limit budget.