Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Our truck is better than yours

For quite a while now, there’s been a bit of a tit for tat going on between two OEMs in the trucking industry – Daimler Trucks and Navistar International.

The two companies have waged an advertising-public relations war about which company has the most aerodynamic truck in the industry – the Freightliner Cascadia or the International ProStar.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that it’s been a bit entertaining to listen to these two big dog OEMs go at it.

The latest chapter in the Daimler-Navistar battle unfolded in September when an advertising watchdog group that’s part of the Better Business Bureau weighed in on the feud.

Navistar filed a challenge with the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus earlier this year.

Among other things, the challenge took to task print and Internet advertising claims by Daimler that the Cascadia is the “most aerodynamic truck on the planet.” The claim is backed in the advertising with statement that “Auto Research Center, an independent company … has reviewed and validated these results.”

Navistar challenged other claims made by Daimler, including the touting of more than $2,700 in fuel savings, but you get the gist of it.

Well, the National Advertising Division agreed, at least in part with Navistar and recommended that Daimler discontinue or modify “certain advertising claims.”

Daimler agreed.

However, it wasn’t a clear win for Navistar in the battle. The watchdog group said that one of Daimler’s claims about the Cascadia was supported by the evidence.

Also, even though Daimler is going to make some changes to its advertising, company officials said that the watchdog group “did not adequately understand the nature of certain technical information submitted.”

Alas, it appears the squabble probably still hasn’t been settled.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pulp fiction

This is a short post but a point I really wanted to make.

Reading news headlines here Friday, Oct. 10, oil prices have dipped below $80 a barrel, settling lower than we’ve seen oil at since September 2007.

It’s hard not to remember June and July, when Goldman Sachs analysts and others were quoted saying oil would likely hit $200, and that $500 per barrel wasn’t out of the question.

I won’t pretend to be an investment expert. I will point out, however, that many financial institutions (like Goldman Sachs) that have been pushing things like privatized highways and other infrastructure sell-offs, seem to be as neck-deep into this market drop as anyone.

The same investment experts who are trading futures of commodities like oil at 2:30 a.m. on unregulated markets halfway across the world are feeling the effects of our reactionary climate.

Had many U.S. highways and toll roads been privatized when this market did hit, how would our highways, bridges and toll roads have been affected? Would the future expenditure for maintenance be overlooked as financial gurus directed all resources into more profitable ventures?

Fortunately, these major world banking powers haven’t purchased the majority of our infrastructure – yet.