"After reflecting on his 38-year career, [James] Hebe launched into a detailed dissection of the truck manufacturing industry, connecting trends in data and concluding that truck-making will change profoundly in response to new freight patterns, changed labor relations and permanently higher fuel prices.
Starting with his trucking company customers, he emphasized the shift from longhaul irregular routes to regional hauling and dedicated contract carriage for distribution. The availability of truck-rail intermodal for many linehaul movements of more than 1,000 miles and the shock of $4.75-a-gallon fuel last year mean 'fuel prices have changed the world.'
Carrier managers, he said, are ever more selective about the freight they haul. Furthermore, he said, there might be fewer loads to haul.
Hebe predicted higher federal taxes will cut consumers' discretionary spending, resulting in slow growth or no growth in demand for trucking services. However, his forecast contradicted numerous freight projections by American Trucking Associations and other groups that predict steady, long-term growth in freight volumes."