Auto Makers: US Stelantis (Part 4C) 2nd half

The best way to tackle Car Manufacturers in the US is to break them up by category. We started with Ford and GM earlier this month. Now it’s time for the “parent company” car maker you’ve probably never heard of even though they are currently responsible for many long standing and household recognized brands.

Later in this series we’ll get to some of the the start ups and those that have been phased out or gone out of business.

StelantisRecap from 1st Half

Vital Stats: 2021-Present, Headquartered in Amsterdam.

Ever heard of Stellantis? You’ve probably heard of Chrysler and assumed that was the third spoke in the US automotive “Big Three.” Stellantis formed in 2021 as a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation. In order to understand this merger you must first know what happened to Chrysler, detailed below, but in short it became the Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).

FCA joined in a 50-50 cross-border merger with the French PSA Group. Upon forming Stellantis became the fifth largest automaker in the world, behind ToyotaVolkswagenHyundai, and General Motors. At the time of the merger, Stellantis had approximately 300,000 employees, and manufactured in 30 countries. Sales are worldwide in 130 countries.

Major brands include  AbarthAlfa RomeoChryslerCitroënDodgeDSFiatFiat ProfessionalJeepLanciaMaseratiMoparOpelPeugeotRam and Vauxhall. This article will focus on the US concerns since this is a US Automaker post. Other car makers will be covered with the respective countries where the brand is most commonly associated. For example, while Vauxhall has long been thought of as Chrysler of the UK most Americans are unfamiliar and unaware the brand even exists.

The deal is estimated to save the companies $4.22 billion. While the merger is thought of as 50-50 PSA got six out of the 11 board members and retained their CEO at the helm of the newly formed company. PSA shareholders paid a fee to acquire their shares in the new company which went to FTA shareholders to compensate them for differences in valuations. It looks to us like a David ate Goliath situation purely for the glory of becoming the #4 car maker in the world.

Jeep

Vital Stats: 1941-Present, Headquartered in Toledo, OH.
Formed by Willys-Overland in 1941.
Merged with Kaiser Motors in 1953.
Acquired by AMC in 1970.
Acquired by Chrysler in 1987.

This history of jeep is fascinating. The jeep is just different from the ground up from most other passenger vehicles. Unusual for a US maker–it’s headquartered outside Michigan. It’s an iconic shape that many automobile manufacturers around the globe feel free to replicate in some fashion. There is also military use which has come back in a manor of speaking.

During the 80 years since the first jeep was built their have been luxury versions, vans and even a truck. With roughly 2400 dealerships holding franchise rights to sell Jeep-branded vehicles if Jeep were spun off into a separate company, it would be a skosh bigger than Chrysler is without it (estimated value $22 to $33 billion). Let’s clear this up some.

The origin of the name is very fitting. You may be familiar with US military terms like FUBAR and SNAFU which go all the way back to WWI. Jeep was, prior to US entering WWII a slang term referencing something General Issue like soldiers and rifles. The term General Purpose got shortened to GP to Jee-P. The vehicle itself was a work horse and quickly became associated with the European view of American Soldiers–reliable, rugged, hard working, lacking refinement but able to get the job done when all means have failed. Jeeps quickly became the light military vehicle of choice for the allies and their military use spread around the globe over the next few decades.

Ford Pygmy

Jeep is not patented and trademarked as design or a term. Therefore jeep without a capitol “J” is the name of sports utility vehicles around the globe if they look like a Jeep. During WWII, a jeep was abandoned on a Japanese Island and the Japanese car maker Toyota created their own version, which explains the Landcruiser and FJ series from them. How in the heck does that happen? Prototypes are closely held secrets, what made Jeep a type of vehicle like pickup or sedan, instead of an exclusive model from one car company?

1940’s Willys Jeep

The origin of the design is found WWII. The US government saw a need for a lightweight 4×4 vehicle that could navigate bombed out roads and ford bridgeless streams. This would be a scout vehicle, capable of shuttling brass to strategic positions, or taking secret messages to command across apocalyptic terrain. They contacted 135 auto makers to compete for a contract. Their specs were so tough and the timeline, 49 days, so tight only two companies seized the chance to go after a lucrative military contract–American Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland.

Bantam’s BRC 40

American Bantam recruited a designer, Karl Probst, who turned them down, but the government was able to twist his arm. He produced the design in two days using parts that were already manufactured so factories wouldn’t have to be retooled in order to begin production. The exception was the 4-whee drive drain which could be sourced by Spicer. `With plans submitted in 5 days, including blueprints and cost sheets, Bantam built their prototype by September 1940. It was perfect, except under powered. The other problem was that the Government doubted Bantam could make enough of the vehicles fast enough.

So the government essentially handed everything of to Willy’s who were already working on a prototype and Ford. Each produced independent prototypes and ultimately Willys married a “Go Devil” engine with the Bantam Design. It was heavier than initial specs but the government was happy with the final version. Willys granted the Government nonexclusive use of the design and the Government ordered 1500 vehicles from each of the three companies (Bantam, Willys, and Ford). After making 2600 jeeps Bantam switched to making trailers for the rest of the war.

Ford began stamping the F into many parts on the jeeps they made, so Willys-Overland followed suit. The Government eventually put an end to it, which likely lead to eventually creating a vehicle under the name Jeep in 1945–the Willys CJ-2A.

2022 Wrangler

640,000 Jeeps were produced for the war effort, and distributed to every branch of the US military, as well as the Great Britain and Russian allies.

Jeep imitations around the world include Delahaye and Hotchkiss et Cie, in France,  Mitsubishi Motors and Toyota in Japan, as well as pretty much every original Land Rover in the UK. In the Philippines abandoned jeeps were turned into taxis, often expanded to hold more passengers and later decorated with wild colors. These Jeepneys are part of the culture in the Philippines. In Iceland, the word Jeppi (derived from Jeep) is the general term for an SUV.

Eugene The Jeep

Surplus jeeps sold well in the US after WWII and Willys-Overland tried to grab the Jeep name touting their contribution to the original design and project. The Federal Trade Commission wasn’t buying it. So Willys staked their claim by being the first to market a Civilian Version, their CJ in 1945.

In the end, we can’t even be sure that the term jeep comes from GP as often claimed, as early as 1936 a comic book publisher named Popeyes pet “Eugene the Jeep” created by E. C. Segar.

Ram Trucks

Vital Stats: 2012-Present, Headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan, slogan “Guts. Glory. Ram.”

If the Ram story seems suspiciously short at 12 years, it’s because Ram was a brand under the Dodge marque prior to being spun off. Ram “Classic” trucks are made at the Warren Truck Plant in Warren, Michigan and at the Saltillo plant in Saltillo, Mexico. New series Ram pickups are made at Sterling Heights Assembly in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

In 2009 Chrysler emerged from chapter 11 a restructured company with Ram, Jeep, Dodge, SRT and Chrysler divisions under their own brand identities and management.

Traditionally, Dodge kept their light truck and other vehicle divisions somewhat separately branded from their cars. For example outside the US they used “Fargo Trucks.” So the idea of individual branding for Ram trucks isn’t a new concept to the company. In this case, it reflects certain opportunities that came with Fiat’s involvement and the departure of Diamler’s involvement.

2022 Ram 2500

Specifically, Dodge car division wants to go after hip, cool, and trendy buyers, while Ram Truck is targeting “Real Truck” customers. Ram is well aware of people who by a truck for the look with functionality an after thought. Given that Fiat owns Iveco who makes powerful commercial hauling vehicles, Ram is able to cozy up to a buyer seeking a functional pickup that looks cool as a happy side effect.

Noteworthy: The 1996 film Twister used a red 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck as the storm-chasing vehicle. 

The long history of Dodge and trucks is spoken to in our post on Dodge. The first-generation “Ram trucks” were introduced in October 1980 and featured a Ram hood ornament first used on Dodge vehicles from 1932 until 1954.

Cummins B Series engine added to the engine lineup in 1989 gave Dodge their first big commercial success as their direct fuel injection didn’t require “glow plugs” like the Ford and GM Diesel trucks did.

Ram got some bad press from their  Super Bowl LII commercial featuring a speech from MLK Jr. in which he actually disapproves of advertisers. One of many examples of marketers attempting to be edgy only to dive headlong across the line of good taste.

Dodge Ram went through 4 generations of development dabbling in a modular design, but mainly optimizing engine, axels, drive trains, transmissions and ultimately giving the entire division a facelift for a consistent and cool new look. In a way, Dodge positioned Ram for success through decades of experimenting and the only thing Dodge couldn’t do for the Ram Truck has now been done by Stelantis through some savvy cross pollinating with other existing brands under their new umbrella.

Ram Trucks likely have a bright future in a competitive US Truck market.

 

Electric Trucks And Similar Vehicles.

Rivian E-Pickup Truck

To create a new electric truck company it seems as if you need the right people to invest in you. One example is Rivian who is backed by the business giant Amazon. The Amazon stake is high – 20% of the company, but then again Ford has a 12% backing to the company.

You might need Einstein to work out the math. Although it’s produced only 150 trucks it’s valued at $100 billion, which is about 66 thousand million dollars per truck.

It’s not only the prestige of being backed by Amazon and Ford but this does work wonders. There are several competitors on its tail, such as GM. Rivian cannot survive by coolness alone. It has 55,000 trucks due to be built as well as an electric SUV set to hit the market so this should be added into the equation. Can it be scaled up okay? It needs to grow a huge amount to make waves against Tesla, though a valuation of Rivian says it will sell 3 million vehicles in 10 years.

Not all critics agree with this assessment, it will always need the assistance of Ford, remember. There is a total lack of proof so a bit of healthy skepticism is in order. Still, this sort of calculation is done all the time, there’s been hundreds of business startups.

Arrival

Arrival Electric Delivery Vehicle

Whereas many vehicles are being built in mega-factories the Arrival brand is being constructed in what is known as “microfactories” beginning in South Carolina. One small factory can make either 10,000 vans or buses. These vehicles won’t be on the market until later in 2022. It’s biggest selling point is price due to them being constructed by a composite metal instead of something similar to steel.

Since they are marketing towards fleet operators-that is logistic companies and transport companies they can be more certain of a client than those companies who rely on car lot sales. They can also be competitive with price. The shot in the arm for Arrival seems to be money from such brands as Hyandai and Kia.

BYD Motors

Based in LA, BYD Motors, are set to deliver five refuse vehicles, all class 8, to New Jersey. If you’re interested in specifics, two can hold 25 cubic yards of garbage and the other three can hold 10 cubic yards of garbage. They can run for eighty miles (about the distance between Jersey City and New Haven) and take a mere two hours to charge.

Electric Vehicles = Infrastructure

Electric trucks like all electric vehicles require the correct infrastructure, but the difference is staggering in that a semi going long distance (OTR) will need way more infrastructure than cars that might only get used around town. This isn’t only a matter of money but also time. The state of California to this end has organized a three-year hydrogen fueling and charging initiative for electric trucks, what they call heavy duty infrastructure.

It aims at zero carbon fuel production where possible and near zero carbon fuel production where that target is not feasible. Could these be weasel words? Who’s to say what is possible and what isn’t?

At least $244 million is added to allow for the manufacture of zero emission trucks. Is it possible to have zero emissions by 2035? Not without a huge amount of funding including EV truck stops with solar power. Everyone needs something to aim at though.

Canoo Electric Truck

Honorable mention goes to Canoo Electric Truck which is more of a camper van. Still its an impressive vehicle with multiple expandable work surfaces and outlets throughout the bed and storage compartments. Known for its 2019 microbus the Canoo Pickup will be available in 2023. The California based company believes this will be popular with their adventurous customer base.

Foreign Pickup Trucks – Successes and Fails

Mercedes X-Class

What makes an ideal pickup truck to buy and what makes a truck that no one will buy?

Kei Truck

To look at the Kei Truck first; it is called a mini-truck, a very small, but practical, pickup truck. It is built very small and is classified as an ATV in some states. Subaru, Honda, and Suzuki, among others, manufacture the Kei Truck. It was developed from a three wheeled truck which could be seen in Japan even before WWII. It weighs less than a metric ton – about 1,500lbs (700Kg) and has a maximum speed of 75 mph. They are produced outside the US and are used in the fishing and construction industries. Unless you’re in one of a handful of states where they’re classified as an ATV, only Kei Trucks older than 25 years may be imported into the US.

The Isuzu V-Cross PCP is designed for both off-roading and traveling on country roads. There are several features you don’t immediately associate with a pickup such as leather seats, a gun-metal exterior, and heated front seats – just the thing for journeying through the colder states. There’s also a touchscreen and a back-up camera to aid your parking.

Unfortunately, a number of pickups didn’t succeed, like the Mercedes X-Class. This was only used between 2018 and 2020. Although Mercedes tends to make waves all over the car market this was a new area for them.  The engine had two different levels of power and had a design based on the Nissan Frontier. Ultimately it had some problems – it was tricky to turn, requiring an excess of 42 feet (13 meters) and was thought too expensive for most customers, not even reaching 17 thousand sales.

Did you know that a Toyota Hilux features in Back To The Future? If so, you are not alone. This bulky pickup has been available since 1968. It has “sports bars” at the front and a strong towing capacity at the back with the additional robust frame and why not take advantage of the cruise control and a collision prevention control. The music tech is also worth mentioning, the Smartphone integration. There are also test drive available from the website. 

The story of the Mahindra is a whole different affair. Its lack of fuel efficiency held it up during production, although it duped hundreds of US audio dealers into investment. The parent company, Global, was selling utility vehicles in 2004. It managed to obtain 350 potential buyers around this period. Unfortunately, it never got to launch.  Despite being planned for a number of years, the fuel emission certificate was only signed in 2011. Dealers paid to get the franchise but it all came to naught.  Several millions were syphoned into branding the product and even creating showrooms. The company later admitted the pressure was too great.

There are so many brilliant pickups out there it would be surprising if some different fall by the wayside. The working nature of the vehicle is important but so is comfortability and style.

Are Female Truck Drivers the Answer?

Clearly there is a worker shortage in many fields and as truck drivers are a crucial link in the struggling supply chain of goods to customers, there is a huge need for truck drivers in general. As an industry they are trying to hire ten thousand drivers immediately.

Even before the global pandemic logistics companies were being squeezed and they were running out of drivers. One reason is the number of accidents caused by tired drivers, or those suffering heart attack or stroke while behind the wheel. As a result, new health standard made trucking an industry likely to retire you at an earlier age. While the average nurse is over 50 the average truck driver is now 46.

New Truck Drivers

The average age of someone becoming a truck driver is 35, and a number of them are women—more than ever before. It seems many men have left the profession before the pandemic have yet to return. ZipRecruiter says that 83% of drivers are men probably because women don’t consider it a good industry for them, but this may be subject to change.

It isn’t just men leaving that creates extra demand for drivers. Home delivery is up as much as 43% over pre-pandemic days.

One of the main reasons that women might be attracted to the job is that it is fairly well paid. While many careers still require a college degree in order to achieve a well-paid position driving truck falls more into the category of a trade, where a short time of special training and a couple certifications can get you started and additional certifications along the way will open doors to increased opportunity. In other words it can be a faster change than say joining the medical field.

Another reason is that traditionally female dominated industries, like supermarket, retail jobs, and restaurant jobs were hit hardest by the pandemic which put a lot of women into the job search right when trucking needed to hire. The economic instability created a good environment for many people to consider a change of industry.

Yet another reason for women to switch to truck driving is that women already filled a bigger percentage of other CDL (commercial driver’s licence) positions. For those women who already drive minibuses or coaches, a truck isn’t that big a leap.

Short Haul vs Long Haul

Traditionally, male and female workers have shown different priorities in job selection. For example, women doctors are sometimes hesitant to pursue medical specialties, like plastic surgery, instead choosing to stay with family medicine, in order to leave the door open for family planning.

So as women enter trucking driving they are opting for short haul jobs, which keeps them near their families. It’s also a more competitive arena.

Long haul, or OTR for over the road as it’s often called, can make more money and is better suited to Owner Operators. The downside is that your are gone from your family most of the time. In other words because it’s lucrative but difficult and uncomfortable so it attracts drivers willing to buy their own rig instead of working as an employee.

The net effect is that it’s unlikely for women see the most money in their industry. Situations like this are what skew the statistics and make the pay gap between men and women seem larger than it may actually be.

It’s not just family consideration at play in their preference for local routes. While many women are adventurous and tough female truckers rated their safety as 4.4 out of 10 (which may be thought as the equivalent to “fairly unsafe”) in a recent survey. Long haul routes carry a greater potential risk and may be less desirable to anyone who is motivated by security. We’re not saying women are risk averse as a gender, actually statistics indicate it. Women get in fewer accidents which is attributed to a more cautious approach to driving, which is correlated to a lower tolerance for risk in general.

While there is no reason a female truck driver couldn’t do the OTR work they may not find it worth the money.

The Bad News for Any Driver

The bad news is that driving all day is a sedentary lifestyle, sitting in one position all day may lead to blood clots. It can also lead to injuries and fatalities due to accidents of some sort. Not everyone is well suited to driving for ten hours in a 24 hours period, and it’s easy to lose focus. Not that the truck driver is to automatically blame. Driving carries the risk of getting in a wreck so the more you drive the more likely you are to be involved in one, and the more likely you are to be injured in one.

Less drastically, It’s also quite a lonely job with irregular hours. Drivers are more likely to smoke or be obese but there are fitness companies out there which market themselves to truck drivers.

Still the Trend is Changing

In most employment fields, women are growing in numbers and trucking is following suit. Sexual harassment may be a problem since they are still a minority and it’s been a male dominated occupation for a long time. A smart trucking company would implement some training and policies to insulate themselves from potential actions taken by their employees.

A smart female truck driver who became an owner operator or one who took on OTR routes consider taking some self-defence.

Most female truck drivers we’ve talked to tell us it’s not too bad if you have a thick skin and set boundaries. They do not feel they are treated the same as men but acknowledge that it is getting rapidly better.

The practicalities of driving a cab for women is a trending topic of discussed online. It’s no longer difficult to find decorations that might appeal to women to customize the cab. Many designs can be seen on TikTok and Instagram.

As a side note, women are also applying for jobs such as driver managers and have excelled as CDL trainers. Some female truck drivers do earn an income north of six figures.

Time will tell if they take on training for specialty endorsements like hazardous waste or oversized loads in larger numbers, but it’s it’s likely that the trucking industry as a whole is heading toward a 50/50 workforce.

A Look Into Construction Trucks

There are many different vehicles involved in construction and related industries such as mining and transportation repair including items such as bulldozers, cranes, excavators and so on. Many of these vehicles can be hired (assuming you have proper endorsements to drive them) for short term, long term or alternately for a fixed period. Any piece of heavy equipment may be referred to as a “plant.”

This article is focusing on the heavy vehicles suitable for the highway such as dump trucks and dumper trucks. They tend to be used for moving sand and gravel to specific locations.

First to look into safety

Definitely the more important aspect of heavy vehicles. When a dumper truck reverses it’s more likely to hit a person, object or vehicle. Indeed, any vehicle reversing should be treated with suspicion, the “skip” tends to be the cause of most incidents. A “skip” is an open container, common to dumpers & side dumpers. This large object creates massive blind spots. Obviously, a dumper is designed to be able to back up accurately, not just for travel, but to deliver a load to exact right spot.

To assist with reversing a spotter is advised – someone who can tell you whether it’s safe to go backward.

Next there’s a problem should the dumper truck tip over. This can be avoided by keeping it under a safe load – it’s vital to know how much a dumper truck can carry. When you drive on an uneven road you will definitely encounter slopes and other areas of uneven ground. This type of environment is more likely to lead to vehicle upturning. There are special manufacturer’s guidelines which will tell the highest gradient that the truck can operate.

You should never drive when the skip has not been lowered as it will be especially likely to tip over due to a weight change, which could be even a small blast of wind. It’s not designed to be driven like this; the tip mechanism should only be operated when the truck isn’t moving.

Inexperienced drivers are less likely to follow a set of operating instructions and may cause accidents, even fatal accidents.

Rollover Protection

Some trucks have roll over protection which is used in case a vehicle overturns or rolls over – either roll cage or roll bars. The first vehicles to use this type of protection were tractors in the 1920s. It may interest you to know that these are tested to destruction, in other words they face a destructive test including working at a lower temperature. Even if a vehicle has a roll cage it is still extremely hazardous.

Types of Dump Vehicles

A high skip dumper is useful if there’s not much space. They are approximately a tonne in weight. A heavy-duty front tip dumper is similar, but they are for larger tasks.

A dump truck has the material stored in the trailer box at the rear. Various types include:

A rigid dumper truck which is both durable and fast but can operate on the open road.

An articulated dumper truck is for the harder type of terrain, but they aren’t very good with heavy terrain.

The tracked dumper truck works by flattening the ground and means you don’t have so many problems with difficult terrain.

You can purchase a mini dumper truck for garden projects and items like extensions and so on, but you may be better served by a tractor with a trailer attachment. They’re are much more user friendly than the bigger trucks.

Many children have a fascination with these types of vehicles, but it is important to teach them to be wary, they are after all, not toys.

What’s News Truck Driver Shortage

Vaccine Mandate Threatens Major Trucking Disruption, Industry Insiders Say

BY JACKSON ELLIOTTCARA DINGALLAN STEINSTEVEN KOVACJANNIS FALKENSTERN AND NICK CIOLINO October 24, 2021 Updated: October 25, 2021

President Joe Biden ordered his administration to mandate vaccines for private companies with over 100 employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was charged with developing the rule, and the Office of Budget and Management is currently reviewing it. The review process can take as long as 90 days.

Most truck companies have six trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations.

For mandate-affected companies, Biden’s decision may drive away employees at a time when America needs them most. The American Trucking Associations estimates that America needs 80,000 more truckers to meet transportation needs.

Recently, supply chain crises have left many Americans in need.

Polls by trucking publications Commercial Carrier Journal and OverDrive indicate that up to 30 percent of truckers will seriously consider quitting if required to vaccinate. If they quit, the consequences for America may be massive. US Transport estimates that 70 percent of American freight goes by truck.

Link to Original Story

The Origin Of Trucks

Benz-Gaggenau BL 10 platform truck

Firstly, where does the word truck come from? It appears it was first used for the wheels on a ship’s cannon and was extended to carts carrying heavy loads. Before gas powered trucks were steam trucks, though they weren’t that widespread.

While vehicles remained expensive, luxury items, the truck wasn’t that popular either. There were many cheaper ways to transport goods – carts, canal boats, railways and so on.

The first trucks had wooden wheels clad in iron. The Phoenix was a later model, a converted car that ran on coal gas, lamp oil as well as gasoline.

Early Trucks

Karl Benz came up with the first truck in 1895 which was in turn altered to become an autobus. In 1896 Gottleib Daimler produced a horseless wagon with 4hp. Although it was said to carry 3300 pounds many disagreed – presumably this was too much for them?

Because of the lack of interest in Germany Gottleib Daimler tried selling the product in England, as coke and coal was cheaper than in Germany. There may have been a speed issue too. Up to 1896 the speed limit was 4mph. It was advertised as being able to transport 1500Kg but it wouldn’t be until 1901 that a truck could outdo the steam alternative as a test run between a motor truck and a steam truck in Liverpool proved.

They would also be promoted in Paris by the French Automobile Club in 1898. The wooden wheels referred to above were a hazard as they were liable to catch fire.

Süddendeutsche Automobilfabrik’s truck used a steel frame and steel wheels along with wheels and pistons. Before that German trucks had used a belt drive.

Other versions were created by Peugeot and Bussing. Only after the Second World War were things like pneumatic tires and power brakes introduced. The diesel engine was introduced in 1923. All of these were styled as large delivery vehicles, not pick ups as we think of them today.

The First American Truck!

Autocar created the first truck in the US with a choice of either 5 or 8hp and two-cylinder engine in 1899.

The first pickup truck was “vehicle no 42” in 1896. After that a modified Ford Model T called The Runabout had a similar design. The first Chevy truck was created in 1918 also using the Model T chassis. The chassis would continue for some time, in 1935 the same chassis would be used to create a station wagon for Chevy, though they did need to alter the load bearing capabilities of the vehicle and remove some of the body panels. These were open-cab vehicles and included such items as specialist hickory wood wheels.

EV Trucks?

There were a number of electric trucks being produced as early as 1907 with strong suspension and gears, such as a 5-ton truck produced in Indianapolis.

Model T Tow Truck

Tow Trucks

The tow truck was created in 1916, basically from necessity. Created by Ernest Holmes in Tennessee it hooked up cars (either broken or crashed ones) using chains and pulleys to take them to the wreckers. The tow truck company and the associated wrecking business was taken over by Miller Industries.

The Volvo’s first truck in 1928 had a four-cylinder engine and although it was said only to allow 1,500Kg many people overloaded it with little side-effect.

The truck, like all early vehicle styles, was only finding its way at that point since there were no huge freeways and has come a long way since.

Why Semi-Truck Turning Is So Hard

For trucks, turning can be one of the hardest things you can do. Why? Read on and find out.

If a truck wants to u-turn (180 degrees) for example, a truck park must allow for a minimum turn path, a truck of 18 wheels needs about 20’ to turn, the rear wheels follow a shorter path than the front wheels.

Because a truck cannot make a turn in a small radius, they need to swing wide, meaning they must start the turn in the second lane to the left. There is an increased risk of a tip over or roll over if a truck tries to turn in too small a radius.

During any turn there is an increased risk of accident, and if there are only two lanes, trucks should avoid turning left. A truck may collide with a vehicle heading toward it from the front or there may be a right turn squeeze play accident from a vehicle trying to turn alongside it.

Squeeze-play Accidents

Squeeze-play accidents can happen in two ways. First because the trailer turns tighter than the cab and cars tend to assume they are safe if the cab isn’t going to hit them. However, the rear tires on the trailer can strike and even climb over a small car that is overtaken on the inside of a turn. It’s never a good idea to attempt a turn at the same time as a truck even when there are two turn lanes.

The second type of squeeze-play happens when drivers are lured into it. Because trucks need to swing right in order to turn left the truck gives the illusion it is turning right. Car drivers see the left blinker on, but assume the driver really meant to go right.

Trucks also have a larger blind spot than cars which means if they put their left turn signal on a car may feel safe pulling up next to it on the right. When the truck driver turns right to begin his left turn any cars in the way would be crushed, generally at the roof but it can be squeezed against a barrier.

How to Turn a Truck:

If you’re driving the truck, it is important to use signals when turning. It’s important to use windows and mirrors to check what is happening and do not move too quickly. It’s vital that you not put yourself in a position to have to back up the vehicle in the middle of an intersection.

To enter into a right turn, ensure that you have enough space from the curb and do not swing into the far-right lane. Conversely, if a truck makes a left turn it needs to first move right.

Different truck turns can be performed in different gears, right turns should be done in third gear, while left can be done in fourth gear. If it is a big right-hand corner with a turning lane (also known as a slip lane) it may be done in fifth gear. A slower vehicle turns more sharply.

Turn signals need to be up-to-date, mirrors should be correct for the size of the vehicle. The driver needs an adequate level of experience, qualifications and training. Unfamiliarity, such as a new route and different conditions may change things. Or the driver could be distracted which includes being tired.

This is just a simple guide, and it should be noted that you need a considerable amount of training to drive a truck, fortunately for other users of the road!

Avoiding Accidents:

It is vital not to overtake a turning truck.

If you’re driving a vehicle near a truck, to prevent accidents always stay away from a truck’s blind spots, especially if it is an 18-wheel truck. Only pass one when there is a great deal of room and do not pass on the right. Should a truck be indicating, give it a wide berth.

Car drivers shouldn’t think of a truck operating like a regular vehicle and just be more patient.

11% of all crash deaths in 2019 involved trucks but 74% of them involved a large trailer, while 24% involved single unit trucks. It is vital as a car driver to stay a safe distance and only pass when there is a great deal of room, especially if it is indicating.