Know Your Truck

Mats on the Mat: The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018

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Whittling away as North America's premier truck event, the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, was jsut a dull shadow of former glories. Even so, there was still enough glitz 'n' glamour to keep the good ol' boys entertained.

ATN

MAY 2018

There was a time not so many years ago when the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) was a world-class event, showcasing all that was hot and happening in the North American truck business.

 

Just as you’d head to Hannover in Germany to see the latest trends and technology in Europe, or to the Tokyo Motor Show to see Japan’s best and brightest, historically you’d head to Mid-America in Louisville, Kentucky, to catch up on America’s newest load haulin’ hardware. Not anymore!

 

Call me biased, but judging by what was on show in Louisville this year, I’d now rate our own biennial Brisbane Truck Show as far more informative and professional than its US counterpart.

 

Nowadays, MATS has strong competition from rival events and with ever-watchful eyes on the corporate wallet, America’s truck, trailer and component brands are no longer automatic starters when it comes to signing up for a truck show, anywhere.

 

It appears to be a case of each event measured on its merits of appealing to dedicated markets.

 

Among the big brands, only Mack and Paccar’s Peterbilt and Kenworth travelled to Mid-America again this year, largely capturing the new truck side of the event to themselves. As it turned out, that was a particularly good thing for Mack, intent on letting everyone know its new Anthem with a stand-up cab and sleeper is aimed squarely at bring the bulldog back to some prominence in the North American line-haul business.

 

For a handful of Australian visitors, it also meant we could, for the first time, get up close and personal with a rejuvenated bulldog eventually headed for our part of the world – but more on that in an upcoming feature story.

 

Other than Mack and Paccar, though, Louisville was slim pickings indeed for new trucks from the big boys of the business. No Freightliner, or its corporate cousins Detroit and Western Star. No International other than a very lonely Lonestar courtesy of the local Louisville dealer. No Volvo, highlighting the fact that in the US, Mack and Volvo definitely go their separate ways. No Japanese truck brands despite an ever-increasing presence in the US. And of course, no Cat.

 

As for new technology, only the Shell ‘Starship’ truck and trailer concept went some way towards showcasing the efficiency merits of advanced aerodynamic design. What’s more, and despite the fact that most major US truck brands are now digging deep into advanced technologies such as autonomous trucks, the only indication of autonomous behaviour at Mid-America appeared to be the public rush to anything labelled ‘free’.

 

Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there was absolutely nothing from Tesla about electric trucks and, likewise, zilch rom Cummins about its similarly fast-paced push into electric propulsion. I didn’t see it, but an Australian product manager wandering around MATS told me the only electric vehicle he saw was a battery-driven go-kart tucked away on the small nondescript stand of a research outfit.

 

By comparison, the Tokyo Motor Show late last year was awash with electric technology, led by Daimler’s Fuso with the launch of its dedicated electric brand E-Fuso, and a highly advanced prototype model called Vision One.

 

Still, truckin’ in America isn’t all about new-fangled gadgets and gizmos. Never has been, and while MATS lacked plenty in big-brand presentation, it at least had enough of the new and the novel, the old and the bold, the long and the lavish to satisfy lovers of classic Yank trucks and keep the good ol’ guys ‘n’ gals mildly entertained.

 

Anyway, check out our gallery above for a pictorial summary of Mid-America 2018, a show with a touch of everything but on the other hand, not much of anything.

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CLUB CONTRIBUTOR

Truck Assist | The team from Truck Assist are experts in trucks - whether they're used in the transport industry, or as a part of your business.

The team from Truck Assist are experts in trucks - whether they're used in the transport industry, or as a part of your business. The Club is a place where you can chat about things that matter to you. It’s your place to share your thoughts, get some peace of mind, have a little fun and feel confident talking to people doing what you do. Remember - we're here to help!

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