Jump to content

kscarbel2

BMT Benefactor
  • Content Count

    16,092
  • Joined

  • Days Won

    74

Everything posted by kscarbel2

  1. Ford GT race stint ends after 4 years, 19 wins Michael Martinez, Automotive News / October 12, 2019 Ford Motor Co. had a singular goal when it resurrected the GT race program in 2016: win at Le Mans to honor the 50th anniversary of the company's legendary victory there over Ferrari in 1966. It did that — and won 18 other races to boot — over the course of a four-year campaign that ended last week at Petit Le Mans in Atlanta. Aside from its success on the track, executives say the revived GT race program helped validate technologies and features that have made their way down Ford's lineup to F-150s, Mustangs and other vehicles. "The GT program was intended to be a halo for the company in terms of what we do and what we're capable of doing," Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance motorsports, told Automotive News. "The race car element is the pinnacle of that, allowing us to put cars in front of fans around the world and prove we can compete against the best companies and win races and championships." The GT's on-track success was further validation for Ford's EcoBoost-branded line of turbocharged engines. The car was powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine, the one found in F-150 pickups, although uniquely tuned for the track. Beyond that, Rushbrook said, insight gained on lightweighting and aerodynamics also have informed decisions on production vehicles. "There's a direct link between what a customer buys in the showroom and what we race on the track," he said. "This program gave us the opportunity to tell that story directly." Early troubles, then victory The GT's first event, the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway in January 2016, ended in disaster. Both vehicles Ford entered suffered from a faulty gearbox actuator and other problems that caused them to pit numerous times. The No. 66 GT finished seventh and the No. 67 GT finished ninth of 11 cars in the GTLM class. "It was so emotional that this can't be happening," Rushbrook said. "But nobody blinked an eye, and that really cemented how strong the team was." Ford ran into trouble at subsequent races, including a crash at the 12 Hours of Sebring, but began to iron out its issues as the racing season continued. One of Rushbrook's favorite memories, he says, was the GT's first victory at Laguna Seca in May 2016. "It really made a statement to win that early in the program with a brand new car," he said. "What the team really needed was something to pick up their spirits and keep everybody fighting to go to Le Mans after that." Roughly a month later, with Executive Chairman Bill Ford and then-CEO Mark Fields watching, Ford placed first, third and fourth in its class at Le Mans. Ferrari finished second. Rushbrook said he remembered Ford, Fields and other executives popping in during the 24-hour race even in the early morning hours, which he saw as a sign of their commitment to the program. The end of the race, he said, felt surreal. "For me, we were so focused on the task, you're not paying attention to anything else that's going on around you," he said. "When you do deliver it, the relief and the joy of celebrating with team members that have been along on the journey was one of the best moments of this whole program." What's next Ford will continue to make road versions of the GT through the 2022 model year, or until production of the allotted 1,350 cars is complete. On the racing side, Ford will continue to compete in NASCAR and other series. "Our focus is not to be in racing just to be in racing," Rushbrook said. "Our focus has been to be on the track in the series and championships that matter and are important, and to win those." He said that as the industry transitions to electric vehicles, Ford will look to that technology in racing as well. Does that mean the next GT, whenever it's resurrected again, will come with a battery instead of a gas engine? "It's honestly too early to say," he said. "There's a lot of technology developments out there. Any of those decisions will be based on what we think the best tech is and the right time to introduce it."
  2. At this time of the year, with Mack brand sales slowing, Volvo will consider the strike a blessing in disguise. When you observe the late model tractors on U.S. highways, Freightliner accounts for 40-45 percent, Paccar (Kenworth and Peterbilt) 40-45 percent, Navistar International 5-10 percent, Volvo 3-6 percent, Mack 2-5 percent and Western Star 1 percent. https://www.bigmacktrucks.com/topic/56885-mack-trucks-market-share-continues-decline/?tab=comments#comment-421305
  3. Scania Group Press Release / October 8, 2019 Ekonovus, the waste management company entrusted with operating in Vilnius, has invested in a compressed gas Scania L 340 refuse truck. With its low-entry cab and outstanding driver visibility, the truck has been specifically designed for tight and congested cities. Featuring a rich diversity of buildings, the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. From its medieval foundation, Vilnius has influenced Eastern European architecture and culture over several centuries. The Vilnius historic centre has been largely preserved, delighting residents and tourists alike. But its narrow streets make refuse collection challenging. Alternatively fuelled trucks for sensitive areas “The first compressed gas trucks will serve the densely populated and most environmentally sensitive areas, such as Vilnius Old Town. In the future, we will use alternatively fuelled trucks in all such areas,” says Andrius Murnikovas, Director, Ekonovus Logistics and Technical Department. An ambition to provide efficient waste management services, as well as to minimise emissions, prompted Ekonovus to invest in the new Scania model. “We will see far more of these trucks as the fuelling infrastructure now rapidly expands. Here in Lithuania, we’re pioneers in adopting next-generation refuse trucks inspired by similar trucks in neighbouring countries.” “We will later invest in more trucks for more cities” Ekonovus plans to invest in more Scania low-entry trucks for deployment across the country. “The first gas refuse trucks will serve Vilnius and Klaipeda residents,” says Ekonovus’ CEO Romas Draskinis. “We will later invest in more trucks for more cities.” The Scania L 340 has a body with a crane and compactor for emptying Molok waste containers, which partially lie underground. During the emptying process, the lid is removed, and a lifting bag is pulled from the well. After positioning the bag over the compactor, the bottom of the bag opens, and the content is released. .
  4. Scania Group Press Release / September 30, 2019 In the Netherlands, waste and recycling company SUEZ and logistics provider HAVI have both been providing services to McDonald’s for a quarter of a century, constantly working to improve sustainability in the logistics waste chain. In addition, Scania and HAVI are working together to reduce the ecological footprint of McDonald’s logistics. In 2017, they signed an international agreement to reduce the number of diesel-powered vehicles by switching to hybrid or gas-driven vehicles. Introducing Scania’s hybrids marks the next step for both partnerships. .
  5. The U.S. doesn't need to import any oil at all now. However, it still does, unfortunately, because certain American and foreign businessmen profit more from doing so.
  6. Fuso Starts FE180 Gas Cabover Production Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT) / October 10, 2019 Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. (MFTA) announced that production of its Class 5 cabover gasoline-powered work truck began at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation (FCCC) plant in Gaffney, S.C. FCCC is a sister company within Daimler Trucks. This truck adds to the lineup of Fuso's Class 4 gasoline models introduced in 2018. The Fuso FE180 Gas, which offers 11,855-pounds in payload capacity, was first introduced at the NTEA Work Truck Show in March 2019, where the first prototype was unveiled. Full production of the Class 5 work truck will share the production line with the lighter Class 4 versions. “North American market data shows that demand for gasoline-powered work trucks is increasing and in some areas outperforming conventional diesel-powered trucks,” said Justin Palmer, president and CEO, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. “We attribute this market shift to the maintenance requirements of diesel trucks due to the increasing sophistication of diesel emission components. Our Fuso Gas trucks eliminate this additional burden while still providing the long-run durability of the engine and its performance.” The Class 5 Fuso FE180’s 297 hp PSI-General Motors V8, 6.0L gasoline engine achieves a standard 361 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuso coupled the engine with the commercial grade Allison 1000 Series 6-speed automatic transmission. To improve fuel economy, Allison FuelSense 2.0 technology with DynActive shifting is included as a standard feature. The increased payload capacity with the FE180 Gas truck is best suited for deliveries with a traditional dry van body. Add a refrigerated body, and this truck is perfect for fresh food or frozen food deliveries. Because of the higher Class and gross vehicle weight, the FE180 Gas can also enter other vocational markets such as landscaping, tree care, vehicle recovery, and construction, just to name a few examples. “The introduction of the Fuso FE180 Gas Class 5 work truck offers customers a powerful, hefty work truck that reduces the operational complications that its diesel counterpart faces today,” said Greg Baker, director of Product Management, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. “We’ve designed this truck with the customer’s wish list in mind by giving it the power, torque and comfort drivers want in a work truck.” Pricing available through Fuso dealerships. With production under way now, the FE180 Gas truck is expected to arrive at dealerships beginning in November.
  7. The all-new Autocar DC-64. #FrontEndFriday #Badass #AutocarDC #AlwaysUp .
  8. Yes, it's plowing season already in the Dakotas. Back in 1941 the Town of Pomfret, New York was proud to show off their new Autocar C8044 (four-wheel-drive) truck with optional "Tropicaire" heater. With about 100" of snow a year, that 11 foot wing got plenty of use. Thanks, Mike Lusher. Always Up - Autocar Trucks .
  9. Matt Cole, Commercial Carrier Journal (CCJ) / October 10, 2019 One of the largest fleets in the country, Stevens Transport, announced it is shuttering its Dallas, Texas-based oilfield tanker fleet, effective Tuesday, Oct. 15, according to a notice submitted to the Texas Workforce Commission. The closure will put more than 550 truck drivers out of work. Stevens Tanker Division, a subsidiary of Stevens Transport (No. 38 on the CCJ Top 250), submitted a WARN notice to the state of Texas on Sept. 26 stating it would be ceasing all operations at all 12 of its locations in Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Safety Measurement System, Stevens Tanker has 576 drivers and 853 trucks. The WARN notice indicates 586 employees will be laid off at nine Texas locations – the majority of which (367) are employed at the company’s Stockdale, Texas, facility east of San Antonio. It’s unclear how many employees will be affected at two Louisiana and one Oklahoma location. Attempts to reach Stevens Tanker for comment on the closure have not been returned as of Wednesday afternoon. A photo circulating on social media of a purported memo to Stevens Tanker employees states the oil and gas industry has slowed down since December 2018, adding that the company has seen a 65% reduction in sand orders since Sept. 20. Stevens Tanker Division has hauled water and sand for oil and gas companies in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico. Stevens is the second major fleet this month to announce a downsizing effort. Roadrunner Systems (No. 31 in the CCJ Top 250) announced late last month that it was downsizing its dry van division and would lay off 450 drivers. Likewise, multiple large fleets this year have abruptly shuttered operations.
  10. Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT) / October 9, 2019 UPS will purchase more than 6,000 natural gas-powered trucks beginning in 2020 and running through 2022. This three-year commitment represents a $450 million investment in expanding the company’s alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle fleet as well as supporting infrastructure. Roughly 25% of vehicles purchased by UPS in 2020 will run on alternative fuels, said Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer, UPS. The new vehicles will be equipped with compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel systems provided under an exclusive agreement with Agility Fuel Solutions, a provider of clean fuel solutions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles. As of October 2019, UPS has agreed to purchase 230 million-gallon equivalents of RNG over the next seven years, making the company the largest consumer of RNG in the transportation industry. Vehicles equipped with CNG fuel systems can interchangeably use RNG and conventional natural gas. Since 2016, Agility Fuel Solutions has provided natural gas fuel storage and delivery systems to more than 1,700 UPS trucks. Over the past decade, UPS has invested more than $1 billion in alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles and fueling stations to help meet its target of reducing absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 12% across its global ground operations by 2025. UPS has continued its relationship with TruStar Energy to design, manufacture and install five new CNG fueling stations in Lathrop, Visalia and Moreno Valley, Calif., Houston, Texas, and Cleveland, Ohio. UPS will deploy the new CNG vehicles on routes to utilize the new CNG stations as well as adding to existing natural gas fleets in other UPS locations. By the end of 2019, UPS will be operating 61 natural gas fueling stations strategically located across the U.S., and outside the U.S. in Vancouver, Canada, and Tamworth, United Kingdom.
  11. Fleet Owner / October 9, 2019 Volvo Group North America's Mack Anthem can already achieve an impressive 10.4 MPG at the high end, leveraging engineering innovations powered by its MP8HE engine and Mack mDRIVE automated manual transmission [rebadged Volvo D13 and I-Shift). Adding new optional extended fairings to the chassis channels air more smoothly around the rear axles and leads to as much as a 0.5% increase in fuel efficiency, the company said “The cost of fuel is among the biggest expenses our customers face, which is why we are relentless in our pursuit of ways to improve efficiency,” said Roy Horton, Mack Trucks director of product strategy. “The extended chassis fairings are another tool we have to boost efficiency and help lower our customers’ total cost of ownership.” Besides saving on fuel costs, the fairings act as steps to improve driver access to the back-of-cab area to access and connect or disconnect trailer air supply lines. .
  12. Studied a 6500 4x4 up close. While the front suspension is an acceptable modern parabolic taper-leaf design (and long in length), the rear suspension is a cheap looking short multi-leaf with narrow leafs that explains complaints about poor ride (slapping over expansion joints). The frame doesn't impress me either. I see some of the Navistar dealers, who in the end will sell the most, have "finally" received a few units.
  13. Red, yellow, or fluorescent green? Who's to say what's the best color for a #firetruck, as long as it's an #Autocar. This 1990 Autocar ACL64B tanker first served the West Chester, PA Fame Fire Co. as No. 53, then as Good Will No. 52. Thanks to Kevin Burress for sharing. Always Up - Autocar Trucks .
  14. EPA Rates 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel at 32 MPG Highway Eric Stafford, Car & Driver / October 7, 2019 The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel earns up to 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway, according to the EPA. That's for the 2WD model. Half-ton Ram trucks equipped with the diesel engine and all-wheel drive are rated at 21 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. The base Ram 1500 with the EcoDiesel engine starts at $38,585, making it the cheapest light-duty diesel in its class. While many expected flying cars to be a thing by now, who thought full-size pickup trucks would be able to exceed 30 mpg? Well, kids, the 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the latest light-duty pickup truck to make that once unthinkable feat a reality. Now that the diesel 3.0-liter V-6 has returned to the Ram 1500 lineup, the EPA has released its fuel-economy estimates. The rear-drive version is expected to earn 22 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg combined. Models with all-wheel drive are rated at 21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway, and 24 mpg combined. We tested the AWD model on our 200-mile fuel-economy route before its EPA certification and saw 24 mpg highway. While that number is obviously short of the government's rating, it's still 6 mpg better than the V-8 Ram we tested. The 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel isn't the only truck in its class that offers these notable EPA ratings. Both the half-ton Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra with the optional Duramax diesel 3.0-liter inline-six are in the 30-mpg club. In fact, the oil-burning Chevy one-ups its Ram counterpart by earning up to 33 mpg on the highway, 23 mpg in the city, and 27 mpg combined. Still, the Ram's EcoDiesel powertrain edges out the Power Stroke diesel 3.0-liter V-6 that's available on the Ford F-150. For comparison, the Blue Oval's downsized diesel is rated at up to 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway for the 2019 model. The EcoDiesel also owns the all-important torque crown with 480 lb-ft of twist, which is 40 more than Ford's Power Stroke and 20 more than GM's Duramax. What's more, the diesel Ram 1500 generates 70 lb-ft more than the brand's 5.7 Hemi V-8. The Ram's new EcoDiesel engine will be available on all 2020 body styles and trim levels. That even includes the off-road-oriented Rebel model for the first time. Those looking for the most stump-pulling power from a 2020 Ram 1500 can have it for under $40k since EcoDiesel-equipped versions start at $38,585. That makes it several thousand dollars less expensive than its diesel-powered half-ton competitors. .
  15. Trailer-Body Builders / October 8, 2019 Vanair recently unveiled plans to introduce a new, patent-pending Integrated Separator Tank. The newly designed separator tank features integrated manifolds containing a minimum pressure valve, thermo-valve, thermistors, transducers, pressure regulators, oil filter, ultrasonic oil level sensors and optional cold-weather oil heater, the company said. It also features SAE O-Ring and JIC connections, helping eliminate leak points associated with conventional galvanized pipe fitting designs. The tank is shipped fully assembled and ready for final mounting, reducing installation time by approximately two hours, Vanair said. The result of these innovations is a 60% reduction in leak points compared to competitive tank designs. Vanair said another first is a new optional redundancy provision feature for thermistors and transducers. “Just like a sophisticated aircraft, this option provides backup if a fault exists on the primary transducer and thermistor,” said Ralph Kokot, CEO of Vanair. “It virtually eliminates potential downtime due to failed primary transducers and thermistors, allowing for uninterrupted operation.” A cold-weather oil heater is an additional option Vanair offers on the Integrated Separator Tank. This feature preheats the compressor oil using engine coolant while driving to the job site. The benefits include increased oil flow in frigid temperatures while reducing emulsification in system, Vanair maintained. The new tank also will feature a redesigned coalescing element with 50% greater surface media, doubling the design life up to 6,000 hours. “The life of the coalescer will typically last beyond the vehicle life cycle, meaning most customers will never have to change the element, which equates to substantial cost savings over competitive designs,” Kokot said. “Vanair is always pursuing advanced engineering designs for increased reliability, durability and the lowest cost of ownership for those we seek to serve. These are the most advanced improvements in the tank design in our 48 years of history. “Vanair ingenuity means lower operating cost, with greater dependability.” .
  16. Trailer-Body Builders / October 3, 2019 Marmon-Herrington, a Marmon Highway Technologies/Berkshire Hathaway company that makes axles and transfer cases for commercial vehicles, recently introduced a new wheel-end option and a conversion that minimizes cab height increase. The wheel-end option is compatible with 11.25-inch bolt circle wheels on the company’s MT22 double-reduction planetary front-drive steer axle. Marmon-Herrington says the option supports customer requests for commonality between the front and rear tires, and minimizes potential downtime, while maintaining the 5G high dynamic shock load capability that defines the axle. The MT22 with 285-milimeter wheel end will come standard on all Marmon-Herrington AWD conversions, and will be offered as standard to all MT22 customers for all approved applications, the company said. It also will continue to manufacture and support the 385-milimeter bolt circle option for OE production and AWD customer. “Our customers asked for it and we are excited to deliver the new 285-milimeter wheel end,” said Dan Souhan, sales and marketing director for Marmon-Herrington. “This product launch delivers the standard fit and wheel commonality our fleets need. This expands our product line offering to our OE customers and allows for in-house Marmon-Herrington AWD conversions to use the wheels that originally come with the truck.” The company’s proprietary new AWD conversion minimizes cab height increase by utilizing newly designed Marmon-Herrington sub-frames, step-frames and front suspension configurations, reducing reduces cab height increase from 10 inches to only 5 inches. The conversion is available for Class 7 and 8 trucks (14-22k front axle weight ratings) and is available across various truck models based on specific engine and transmissions configurations, Marmon-Herrington said. The new sub-frame and step-frame designs were developed to achieve an overall decrease in cab height for supporting the latest generation of aerials with a Marmon-Herrington double reduction planetary front drive axle. The design allows the axle’s input torque to be distributed across the entire axle, as compared to single reduction axles. Torque splitting in the double reduction planetary axle allows for the use of a compact ring and pinion gearset, the company maintained, reducing the size of the center section and increasing ground clearance while also achieving “unparalleled” durability and lower cab height increases. “We have combined several new strategies with our MT-Series planetary drive axles to achieve remarkable height reduction,” Souhan said. “Marmon-Herrington provides our customers with best-in-class rigid axle AWD power and durability, as well as industry-leading ground clearance and low cab height. “We understand the importance of multiple performance characteristics when evaluating an AWD conversion and continually work to ensure Marmon-Herrington offers our customers the very best in every category.” .
  17. Ford Trucks International Press Release / October 5, 2019 Ford Trucks are now in Western Europe! We have just opened our first facility in Lisbon, Portugal! #FordTrucks #Portugal #Lisbon #SharingTheLoad #NewBig #FMAX #IToY #WesternEurope #EU .
  18. Ford Trucks International Press Release / October 6, 2019 Hello to everyone from Spain or "Hola"! We continue our Western Europe expansion with incorporating Spain into our family. #SharingTheLoad #Spain #WesternEurope #FordTrucks #FMAX #EU .
  19. The earlier versions had the K100 cab. The later models had the DAF "XF" cab. The Chinese name for Kenworth is 肯沃驰. .
  20. Congratulations to Texas Pride Disposal on their new truck! #AlwaysUp Nice job, Heil of Texas. https://www.facebook.com/…/pcb.253318101…/2533163186722735/… Always Up - Autocar Trucks .
  21. Autocar Launches Two Construction Truck Models Heavy Duty Trucking (HDT) / October 3, 2019 Autocar Trucks has launched two tuck models designed for the concrete and construction industry. The Autocar DC-64M is designed for concrete mixers and the DC-64P is made for concrete pump applications. The Autocar DC is a conventional truck engineered from the ground-up for severe-duty vocational applications. “The new DC models are the result of extensive input we received from our advisory board of concrete professionals,” said Eric Schwartz, managing director of Autocar Trucks. “Every inch of these trucks has been reviewed and improved based on the decades of experience of people operating concrete mixer and boom pump trucks.” The Autocar DC-64M and DC-64P bring several innovations that make them uniquely suited for their respective vocations, according to Autocar. The Autocar DC’s cab was designed by Autocar for exceptional productivity, durability and safety in the concrete industry. The cab structure is built from a combination of steel, aluminum components and corner castings, to withstand years of abuse the concrete industry dishes out. The workspace of the cab maximizes productivity for drivers with everything designed to be visible and within easy reach, while the wide, raked windshield provides better visibility for safety. The interior uses materials like polished aluminum bars for door pulls and steel sheets as dash panels along with a full steel structure inside the dashboard. The Autocar DC-64M and DC-64P join the other DC models featuring ultra-high-strength 160,000 p.s.i. steel frame rails, which Autocar says are stronger and lighter than the rails on comparable trucks and eliminate the need for frame liners in nearly all mixer applications. “We’ve routed air lines and self-cleaning electrical harnesses on separate sides of the frame rail to make service easier,” said Tom Harris, Autocar’s vice president for concrete mixer trucks. “But even more importantly, everything is mounted away from the frame rail channels where concrete and liquids accumulate, so that will avoid additional problems we’ve all had to deal with before.” The DC also features Autocar’s new Always Up display, with prominent warnings and dynamic gauges that tell the operator or technician what fault has occurred and shows them how to fix it. “The DC-64M incorporates a raft of improvements and features specific to concrete mixer trucks, such as rear-engine PTOs and asymmetrical self-leveling front suspensions,” said Schwartz. “Every DC-64P will be custom-engineered for the specific pump body the pumper selects. So suspensions and multiple steer, drive, and auxiliary axles will all be selected and placed for optimal weight distribution and Autocar’s industry-leading maneuverability.” The Autocar DC powertrain initially includes Cummins X12 engines up to 500 hp and 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque, with additional engines and specs available in the future. Transmissions include the Allison RDS4500 and 4700 series for maximum torque at low speeds and easy drivability on the road and in construction sites. The company has already accepted orders for production of the DC models at its Birmingham, Alabama factory, for delivery in the spring of 2020.
  22. Bryam Gruley, Bloomberg / October 4, 2019 The concrete floors shine in the new $100 million factory on Chicago’s far South Side. Towering shelves painted in blue, yellow, and red are mostly empty. The quiet is eerie, punctuated only by a forklift’s occasional beep. On a bank of 6-foot-high platforms rest the steel shells of five 48-foot-long passenger rail cars destined for the Chicago Transit Authority. Inside the cars, small clutches of workers trace multicolored bundles of wire. Outside, others in safety helmets and glasses attach HVAC equipment to the undercarriages. All work for the Chicago subsidiary of China Railway Rolling Stock Corp [中国中车股份有限公司]. And what they’re doing scares the hell out of some U.S. manufacturers and Washington politicians. CRRC is the world’s largest maker of freight and passenger rail cars. Over the past decade, the state-owned Chinese company has gone from country to country underbidding rivals and taking business from giants such as Alstom, Bombardier, Siemens, and Hyundai’s rail unit, Rotem. When Siemens and Alstom tried to merge two years ago, before being blocked by European Union regulators, they cited the CRRC juggernaut as one rationale. The Chinese company effectively wiped out Australia’s homegrown rail car industry in less than a decade. Early in 2018, CRRC declared in a since-deleted tweet, “So far, 83% of all rail products in the world are operated by #CRRC or are CRRC ones. How long will it take for us conquering the remaining 17%?” Since 2014, CRRC has won $2.6 billion in contracts to supply subway cars to transit authorities in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. The Chicago factory and another in Springfield, Mass., along with a parts-making facility in Los Angeles, collectively employ about 365—including more than 150 union members earning as much as $32 an hour—and plan to add dozens more. In Chicago, production manager Brian Vasquez strolls the floor pointing out empty areas where his facility intends to expand into, among other things, double-decker commuter cars. “It kind of looks like overkill,” Vasquez says, “but CRRC is preparing for the future.” That future is uncertain, in no small measure because of the dysfunctional relationship between the U.S. and China. This is how fraught things are: In a Congress where it’s almost impossible to get anything significant done, four U.S. companies in the freight car business have persuaded the House and Senate to pass legislation that would withhold federal funds for any municipal project using CRRC cars. CRRC’s antagonists echo the Trump administration’s harangues against Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. They argue that CRRC will use its advantages as a subsidized company to dominate not only the U.S. passenger rail industry but also, eventually, the larger freight car business. They say, too, that China will use CRRC rail cars for espionage, an economic and military security concern. Lawmakers from both parties have embraced these arguments, though there’s clearer evidence for the former than the latter. In either case, if you’d like Washington to help you kneecap a Chinese rival, now is a good time. FBI Director Christopher Wray told a congressional hearing in July that “there is no country that poses a more severe counterintelligence threat to this country right now than China,” accusing it of trying “to steal their way up the economic ladder at our expense.” Lobbyist Erik Olson of the Rail Security Alliance, which represents the four domestic freight car companies, says it’s perilous to give CRRC any benefit of the doubt. “You can’t mitigate against the threat,” Olson says. “You have to choose risk avoidance: Don’t buy the train in the first place.” On a sunny March day in 2017, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel plunged a shiny silver shovel into a mound of dirt 20 miles south of downtown Chicago. He, along with a few other local politicians and CRRC officials, was breaking ground for the factory. It was going up in the blue-collar Hegewisch neighborhood on a 45-acre site near a Ford Motor Co. plant, a United Auto Workers hall, and a couple of beer-and-shot joints. The project promised the community 170 jobs and the renewal of an industry that had disappeared when the last rail car shop closed in the early 1980s. “Four years from now, Chicagoans like myself will be commuting on a rail car made in Chicago by Chicagoans,” Emanuel said. That the plant would be built by a company based in Beijing didn’t seem to matter. No U.S. companies make passenger rail cars. That’s partly because Americans don’t travel on trains nearly as much as they do in automobiles. Most of the companies that make passenger rail cars for the U.S. hail from countries where personal train travel is more common: Alstom (France), Hyundai Rotem (South Korea), Kawasaki (Japan), and Siemens (Germany). And CRRC. The company dates to 1881, when Xugezhuang Machinery Works built China’s first steam locomotive, nicknamed “Rocket of China.” Today, CRRC is effectively a subsidiary of the People’s Republic, with more than 180,000 employees working at more than 40 subsidiaries around the world. The current version of the company was formed by the merger of two huge makers of rail gear in 2015, the same year the national government issued its Made in China 2025 policy. That initiative listed 10 industries in which China seeks to become a global power. No. 5 is advanced rail equipment. China has tried to mute its ambitious tone as the trade war has heated up, but a recent report from the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies said the country “has not at all abandoned its economic—and strategic—goal of catching up with Western industrialized countries and gaining a competitive edge in high-tech and emerging technologies.” CRRC posted a profit of $1.5 billion last year on revenue of $33.1 billion. It landed its first U.S. contract in Boston five years ago and secured orders to build rail cars for Chicago and Los Angeles not long after. In Boston, its $567 million bid to supply 284 subway cars beat out the closest rival, Hyundai Rotem Co. Ltd., by $150 million. In Chicago, its $1.3 billion bid for 846 cars was $226 million less than the offer from Canada’s Bombardier Inc. Dave Smolensky, a spokesman for CRRC’s plant in Chicago, says Bombardier originally bid lower in a previous round in which CRRC didn’t participate, then raised its bid after a competitor dropped out. Bombardier “thought they were going to be the sole bidder,” he says. “It’s a perfect example of what happens when you lose competition.” A Bombardier spokeswoman calls this a misrepresentation, saying the requirements changed for the second bid. “We submitted a highly competitive proposal designed to win.” CRRC’s critics say the Chicago contract was the almost inevitable result of a state-owned company undercutting rivals with financial help from back home and dangling baubles like new factories before local politicians. According to the U.S.-China Economic Security and Review Commission, created by Congress in 2000, CRRC received $194 million in subsidies in 2014 and an additional $268.7 million the next year. However, a recent study by the Congressional Research Service concluded that allegations of unfair undercutting have “not been proven,” given that the company failed to win contracts in Atlanta and New York City. It wasn’t CRRC’s initial success making U.S. passenger cars that provoked the company’s antagonists, but a flop in freight cars. The freight business is decidedly different than its passenger cousin. For one, it’s a viable domestic industry—consulting firm Oxford Economics estimates that it accounts for about $5 billion in annual revenue and 65,000 U.S. jobs. While passenger cars, with their interior seating, air conditioning, and other comfort features, can cost more than $1 million apiece, a freight car rarely costs more than $150,000. But freight is a more consistent business over time, because while it’s linked to broad economic cycles, it relies less on customers’ episodic decisions to upgrade their fleets. Municipalities that use federal funds to buy rail cars must also follow “Buy American” laws dating to the Great Depression that require manufacturers to use minimum levels of parts from U.S.-based suppliers. No such rules apply to freight. CRRC’s freight car ambitions in the U.S. first became evident in 2014, when it joined with a Wilmington, N.C., rail technology company called Vertex and a Chinese private equity firm to form Vertex Railcar Corp. Vertex was to build a variety of freight rail cars in Wilmington, creating more than 1,000 jobs. The company apparently sold some cars, but legal and other troubles forced it out of business in 2018. CRRC’s involvement nevertheless caught the attention of Amsted Rail Co., a Chicago-based maker of axles, brakes, wheels, and other freight car parts. Olson, of the Rail Security Alliance, says Amsted was concerned about CRRC partly because Chinese state-owned enterprises tend to rely heavily on Chinese suppliers. Amsted had noticed with alarm that after CRRC’s two predecessor companies entered the Australian rail car industry in 2016, they took over. The largest Australian rail car maker, Bradken Pty Ltd., had 40% of the market in 2008; by 2017, it had exited the freight and passenger markets and CRRC claimed virtually all of both. Amsted sought help from Olson, a former congressional staffer who had joined Venn Strategies, a Washington lobbying firm. In May 2016, Olson helped form the Rail Security Alliance with Amsted and three other U.S. rail equipment makers: American Railcar Industries, Greenbrier Companies, and Trinity Industries. That’s not an especially large lobbying force, but it quickly proved effective. By September more than 50 congressional Republicans and Democrats had signed letters to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or Cfius, urging it to review CRRC’s role in the Vertex joint venture. The lawmakers argued that the Chinese company was likely to shift purchasing to China, leaving Americans with nothing more than assembly work. They also raised concerns about cybersecurity. Cfius never acted on Vertex. But the U.S. suppliers started lobbying for legislation that would ban municipalities from accepting federal funding for contracts with CRRC. Key congressional supporters included Texas Senator John Cornyn, a Republican, and others with rail interests in their states or districts. Last year the ban on federal money made it into a government funding bill but was stripped out before the legislation reached President Trump’s desk. The companies have continued pushing for the ban, amplifying concerns that CRRC trains pose a cybersecurity threat. The ground in Washington was fertile for such talk. As the Rail Security Alliance cranked up its spy-train campaign, the Pentagon was banning the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on U.S. military bases, and the Army was stripping its bases of surveillance cameras made by Chinese state-owned Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co. China’s government was denying reports that it had bugged the headquarters it built in Ethiopia for the 55-nation African Union. On Capitol Hill, the alliance circulated a glossy 15-page pamphlet, authored by retired U.S. Army Brigadier General John Adams, highlighting potential economic and cybersecurity threats posed by CRRC. It raised the possibilities of China secretly monitoring military rail movements and facilitating toxic chemical spills. “I know they have the capability because we have the capability. We just don’t do it,” Adams says. “And I do believe, based on their behavior, that they have the intent.” It was in this atmosphere that CRRC emerged in late 2018 as a possible bidder on a contract to supply rail cars to the Washington, D.C., subway system. Security hawks immediately started floating the prospect of China using secretly implanted devices to watch and listen to policymakers as they rode the rails near the Pentagon and Capitol. Congressional hearings followed. The legislation that fell short last year started moving again, and the Rail Security Alliance picked up support from the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the Railway Supply Institute, and other advocacy groups. There have been no reports of CRRC trains being used to snoop. “It’s a conspiracy theory right up there with Bigfoot,” says Smolensky, the company spokesman in Chicago. “Once a rail car is delivered to the transit authority, they have full operational control. The manufacturer does not have access to the rail car.” Robert Puentes, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Eno Center for Transportation, says transit authorities carry out regular quality inspections and it’s “ludicrous” to think a manufacturer could sneak surveillance devices into trains. “If the federal government really wanted to be helpful,” he says, “instead of blocking CRRC, they could give people more money to do better inspections.” It’s not always that simple. The inspector general of Washington’s transit authority found that third-party contractors and vendors could unwittingly make the subway system vulnerable to cyberattacks. In theory, as CRRC helps to maintain the cars it built, the company could create backdoors for intrusion via software updates. Those “could be turned on and off as needed,” Adams says. CRRC’s adversaries have seized on a federal indictment charging a Chinese software engineer at an unnamed Chicago locomotive manufacturer with stealing proprietary information and taking it to China. Although CRRC wasn’t implicated, the alleged theft “makes clear that the U.S. rail market is also becoming a target” of China, says a recent report by consulting firm Veretus Group. Freight cars pose a somewhat different vulnerability than passenger ones because they ferry economically valuable items such as lumber and oil, and also because they’re crucial to military mobilizations. “Rail networks are particularly at risk because they are extensive, dispersed, and complex,” says a recent report by management consulting firm Oliver Wyman. The industry is rolling out a nationwide web of Wi-Fi, GPS, and other technologies designed to smooth scheduling and prevent crashes; that, too, could be a target for bad actors, the report says. “So much of the conversation about China is what we think they might be up to but so far have no evidence for,” says Bruce Dickson, a political science professor at George Washington University. “You either are suspicious that they might do something and deprive yourself of a high-quality, low-cost rail car, or you can say there’s no evidence and then look like a dupe.” John Scavotto Jr., business manager of Sheet Metal Workers Local 63, which represents some workers at CRRC’s Springfield plant, 90 miles west of Boston, says it’s frustrating that CRRC hasn’t gotten more credit for paying Americans good union wages. “Before this plant was here, this was a big, empty lot,” he says. “CRRC is offering Springfield a lifeline. It’s a place where you know you’re going to go every day and walk out in 20 years with a pension. There’s security.” Scavotto says he gets “wound up” at talk of CRRC building spy trains, because his members worry it could cost them their jobs. “Are we really saying to ourselves that the Chinese are smarter than us?” he says. “If it isn’t CRRC, who’s it gonna be? There is no American rail car manufacturer. We let the Germans come in here, South Korea, France—they’re all foreigners.” CRRC’s critics say the Chicago and Springfield factories employ far fewer workers than would be required to manufacture entire rail cars—hence the relative quiet in the two facilities. The company ships prefabricated train shells to the U.S., where workers fit them out with necessary equipment. Officials at the Chicago and Springfield plants say they satisfy Buy American rules, which require 70% U.S. content. The recent Congressional Research Service study concurs. “Do we have an advantage in building shells in China? Absolutely,” says Springfield facility director Vince Conti, a 30-year rail car industry veteran who previously worked for Bombardier in China and India and elsewhere. “It feels like we’re being targeted because we’re a Chinese company.” Well, yes. The question is whether the concerns surrounding CRRC are legitimate. The Rail Security Alliance has spent $2 million on lobbying, most of it going to Olson’s firm, Venn Strategies, according to OpenSecrets.org. The two U.S. CRRC factories, which have retained lobbyists only in the past year or so, have spent at least $160,000. The Massachusetts factory recently launched a website that seeks to counter anti-CRRC claims, boasting that the plant uses parts sourced from New Jersey, South Carolina, Wisconsin, and other states. The site also links to Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe editorials casting trains as no more of a spying threat than ubiquitous Chinese-made smartphones. None of this is likely to stave off the legislation, which this time is part of a defense spending bill. Assuming that it becomes law, CRRC would be allowed to fulfill its current contracts, all of which involve federal funds except the one with Boston. Any transit authorities that sign a contract with CRRC in the future would have to do without federal dollars. That could change the calculations considerably. CRRC’s spokeswoman in Springfield, Lydia Rivera, says the legislation would eventually force the factory to close. Smolensky, the spokesman in Chicago, won’t go that far. He says CRRC will continue to educate policymakers about the “unintended consequences” of the legislation: lost jobs and higher prices for rail cars. .
  23. Is this the ultimate #ThrowbackThursday post? A 1907 Autocar Model XV runabout driven by two of Autocar founder LS Clarke's great grandchildren - taken at LS Clarke's old house near Ardmore, Pennsylvania. Thanks to current owner of both house and auto, Jim Alexandre. Beep beep! #TBT Always Up - Autocar Trucks .
×
×
  • Create New...