At most Work Truck Shows presented by the National Truck Equipment Association, new truck chassis and bodies take center stage. At this year's show, held in Indianapolis in March, new models took second billing to hybrids.

As battery technology continues to improve, systems are being developed to substitute electricity for what had been the domain of power take-offs. Hydraulic booms and bucket trucks, pumps, winches, and other equipment that relied on an idling engine for power on demand can now operate in hybrid mode with the engine shut off. No longer do trucks need to idle for hours just to provide a few moments of work.

All attendees had opportunities to drive several hybrids, from utility trucks to step vans to straight trucks. Show events included a Hybrid Truck Summit, sponsored by the Hybrid Truck Users Forum.

New Trucks

Among the new trucks that were introduced, DaimlerChrysler launched the Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis cabs featuring Cummins diesel engines with 305 hp and 610 lb.-ft. of torque. The parent company also introduced the Sterling Bullet with almost identical specifications and capabilities.

Now Dodge light-duty customers can maintain dealer relationships as they fill their medium-duty needs, while Sterling can service class 6, 7, and 8 customers with class 4 and 5 vehicles.

Dodge also introduced an updated Sprinter van and cutaway chassis. It has a 3.0-liter, 154-hp V-6 diesel, and an optional 3.5-liter, 254-hp gasoline V-6.

Ford showcased gasoline-powered E-350 and E-450 Super Duty Cutaways and vans. AdvanceTrack with Roll Stability Control is standard on E-350 passenger wagons with the 5.4-liter V-8. Other models have engine-only traction control available.

General Motors' Chevrolet and GMC divisions showed a full range of light and medium trucks ranging from the Chevy HHR panel truck to the Kodiak and Top Kick 4500s. The big trucks offer the 8.1-liter gasoline V-8 for those who don't rack up enough miles (about 25,000) to justify a diesel.

GM Isuzu Commercial Truck displayed the low cab forward N-Series. With either a standard or crew cab, the nimble chassis cab comes in wheelbases of 109 to 212 inches.

International Truck and Engine Corp. already started delivery of its DuraStar Hybrid. The DuraStar lineup includes the 4100 class 5 through the 4400 class 7 in either 432 or 634 configuration.

Products And Services

Half the fun of attending shows is finding what's new and helpful on the show floor. Here are a few new or improved items that you may find worthwhile.

Whether it's water, fuel, or any other liquid, surge is something no tanker driver wants to experience. Surge Control LLP's Surge Buster ( is a removable insert polymer baffle that eliminates up to 96% of surge in any direction. It displaces less than 1% of tank volume (8 gallons per 1000).

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