The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018

By: Steve Brooks, Photography by: Steve Brooks


The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018
The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018 The Mid-America Trucking Show 2018

A snapshot summary of North America’s premier truck event, the 2018 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky

There was a time not so many years ago when the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) was a world-class event, showcasing all that was hot and happening in the North American truck business.

Just as you’d head to Hannover in Germany to see the latest trends and technology in Europe or to the Tokyo Motor Show to see Japan’s best and brightest, historically, you’d head to Mid-America in Louisville, Kentucky, to catch up on America’s newest load haulin’ hardware.

But not anymore! Call me biased, but judging by what was on show in Louisville
this year, I’d now rate our own Down Under biennial Brisbane Truck Show as far more informative and professional than its US counterpart.

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Nowadays, MATS has strong competition from rival events and with every-watchful eyes on the corporate wallet, America’s truck, trailer, and component brands are no longer automatic starters when it comes to signing up for a truck show, anywhere. It appears to be a case of each event measured on its merits of appealing to dedicated markets.

Among the big brands, only Mack and Paccar’s Peterbilt and Kenworth travelled to Mid-America this year, largely capturing the new truck side of the event to themselves. As it turned out, that was a particularly good thing for Mack, intent on letting everyone know its new Anthem with a stand-up cab and sleeper is aimed squarely at bringing the bulldog back to some prominence in the North American linehaul business.

For a handful of visitors from our part of the world, it also meant we could, for the first time, get up close and personal with a rejuvenated bulldog eventually headed our way.

Absent friends

Other than Mack and Paccar, though, Louisville was slim pickings indeed for new trucks from the big boys of the business.

No Freightliner or its corporate cousins Detroit and Western Star. No International, other than a very lonely Lonestar, courtesy of the local Louisville dealer.

No Volvo, highlighting the fact that in the US, Mack and Volvo definitely go their separate ways. No Japanese truck brands despite an ever-increasing presence in the US. And, of course, no Caterpillar.

As for new technology, only the Shell ‘Starship’ truck and trailer concept went some way towards showcasing the efficiency merits of an advanced aerodynamic design.

What’s more, and despite the fact that most major US truck brands are now digging deep into advanced technologies such as autonomous trucks, the only indication of autonomous behaviour at Mid-America appeared to be the public rush to anything labelled ‘free’.

Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there was absolutely nothing from Tesla about electric trucks, and likewise, zilch from Cummins about its similarly fast-paced push into electric propulsion.

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I didn’t see it but an Australian product manager wandering around MATS told me the only electric vehicle he saw was a battery-driven go-kart tucked away on the small nondescript stand of a research outfit.

By comparison, the Tokyo Motor Show late last year was awash with electric technology, led by Daimler’s Fuso with the launch of its dedicated electric brand, E-Fuso, and a highly advanced prototype model called Vision One.

Still, truckin’ in America isn’t all about new-fangled gadgets and gizmos. Never has been, and while MATS lacked plenty in big brand presentation, it at least had enough of the new and the novel, the old and the bold, and the long and the lavish to satisfy lovers of classic Yank trucks and keep the good ol’ guys ‘n’ gals mildly entertained.

Anyway, here’s a pictorial summary of Mid-America 2018—a show with a touch of everything, but on the other hand, not much of anything.

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