Dot-com Swarm Hits Mid-America Trucking Show

A SWARM of dot-coms descended on the 2000 Mid-America Trucking Show March 23 to 25 in Louisville, Kentucky. They made it clear that e-commerce has arrived in force on the doorstep of the trucking industry. Walking through the exhibit halls, fleet managers were hit with a bewildering buzz of techno babble and hype. It may be quite some time before they know which Internet efforts can deliver on promises and which are little more than vaporware.

All sorts of Internet programs were rolled out, some of them very ambitious. They ranged from truck manufacturer sites that enable a buyer to fully spec a truck to portal sites that promise to become major resource centers for users.

Here is a roundup of some of the internet initiatives that were unveiled at the show:

Fleetscape.com-This business-to-business effort was rolled out by Meritor Automotive Inc, Accel Partners (a venture capital firm), and Gen3 Partners (an integrated strategy and technology firm). Originally called FleetWorks.com, the operation is expected to be online in late summer, but significant changes were announced less than a month after the truck show.

Meritor withdrew from the project after management expressed concerns that it could not be seen as a neutral partner. Frank Palmieri, FleetWorks.com vice-president of marketing and business development, said the project still would launch on schedule. Additional investors are being sought.

Fleetscape.com will function as a comprehensive open electronic marketplace for commercial truck aftermarket parts and services. It will be open to all participants.Buyers and sellers will be able to seamlessly reach all of their parts and service providers with the click of a mouse.

Moreover, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), truck dealers, parts distributors, and service providers will be able to electronically co-locate on one common site to reach existing and new customers.

Parts procurement will be improved with an industry-standard electronic catalog, 24-hour customer service support, back-end systems integration, consolidated billing and reporting, and support for existing trade relationships and purchasing contracts.

www.hookup.com- This is the new online e-commerce division for Hook Up Inc, a transportation services provider. The site will provide a broad range of services for motor carriers, dealers, manufacturers, owner-operators, and drivers.

Features now available on the site include online truck, trailer, and parts auctions; worldwide truck locator; dealer locator; truck-moving services; driver recruitment program; financing and insurance quotes; news and weather; free e-mail; and chatrooms.

Features slated for release later this year include online driver auction; discount travel services; individual web pages for drivers; and backhaul/freight exchange/freight brokerage software. Carriers and truck dealers will be offered free websites to promote their businesses.

www.InternationalDelivers.com-International Truck and Engine Corporation's new truck locator helps find the right International truck for a customer's business. International's entire dealer network is available by US state or Canadian province.

Features include search by product type, search by model number complete with photographs depicting specific applications, customizable search criteria, dealer location searches, and real-time updates.

www.truckrealm.com-Developed by Karmak, a software supplier to the aftermarket parts industry, this site offers a comprehensive heavy-duty parts cross-referencing system, truck industry news, and an industry calendar. Users can plan routes, research permits and Department of Transportation regulations, find a towing service, and make hotel reservations.

Over 4,000 industry links are available for dealerships, truck repair shops, truck manufacturers, fleets, trailer dealers, trailer manufacturers, leasing and rental companies, truck stops, truck washes, driver recruiting, driver training, industry associations, and trade publications.

TruckCenter.com-online since mid-April, this site serves as a comprehensive business-to-business marketplace for the sale of trucks and related services, including financing, insurance, certification, warranty, and third-party inspections. It is intended to serve as a one-stop shopping place for managing medium- and heavy-duty trucking assets.

TruckCenter.com is a collaborative effort between Entrade Inc and Associates First Capital Corp. Entrade's B2B e-commerce technology powers the online marketplace.

An inventory of more than 8,000 trucks and trailers is available. Besides the Associates, the following service and equipment suppliers are participating in the venture: Volvo Trucks North America Inc, Ryder System Inc, Penske Truck Leasing, Ruan Leasing Co, Arrow Truck Sales, Rush Enterprises, Crook Motors, Tomahawk Truck & Trailer Sales, HD America, Associates Insurance Group, Getloaded.com, Comvehicle, Driveaway USA, VehiCare, Road Ready Registration, American Trucking Associations, National Private Truck Council, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Nationwide Auction Systems, and layover.com.

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