AN ARRAY of analysts, economists, and industry personnel provided insight into the current state of the commercial truck market, its current trends and future direction as part of Heavy Duty Dialog.

The annual event, produced by the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association, was held January 23 in Las Vegas. Detailed reports on the key presentations can be found on the pages that follow.

In addition to the lineup of seminars, HDMA recapped the progress of an affiliated organization — the Motor and Equipment Remanufacturers Association. The association launched last year and now has approximately 40 members, 19 of whom specialize in the heavy-duty side of the business. MERA launched two councils last year to enable members to address issues of common interest, benchmark operations, and develop best practices. The group plans to establish a certification program in 2012 that will define minimum process criteria for remanufactured products.

The event also included remarks from Bill Graves, former governor of Kansas and currently the head of the American Trucking Associations.

Graves presented an update regarding developments in Washington. He was particularly concerned about the lack of progress with funding for highways. He pointed out that highway construction is not keeping up with the population growth in the United States — a nation that is adding more than 2.7 million people (roughly equivalent to the population of Chicago) each year.

The trucking industry, he said, has been strong recently, and fleets are buying equipment. Some of the truck and trailer manufacturers Graves have visited are reporting that they already have sold out their production for virtually all of 2012. He was especially pleased at the recent developments in the housing industry that should create additional demand for platforms and other specialized trailers.

“There is a little expansion of the fleet, which is a good thing,” Graves said. “But there is a lot of demand from fleets who need to replace worn out trucks and trailers. We will need to watch what will be going on in Washington, though, because government can have a very real effect on demand.”