The National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show is not your ordinary auto show. Instead of sticking flashy and shiny parts and custom vehicles in the faces of showgoers (like the big automaker shows or the Special Equipment Market Association show), the Work Truck Show is about practical solutions; it's a place where business owners and equipment specialists can meet. And for that reason, it's one of our favorite destinations of the year.
Yes, there are always impressive big rigs on the floor, but the core of the floor space is taken up by small- and medium-sized companies that display products they think could help a business owner work harder, safer and/or more efficiently. Take a look at the video we put together from the show floor to see some of our favorites, and then take a look below that at a few others we found. To see more photos from the show, you can also go to our Facebook page.
Velvac 2020XG Mirror
Not only is this new towing mirror already being used on some of the Class 4, 5 and 6 trucks, the sales rep told us that some of the bigger "light-duty" truck makers were looking to make the camera/mirror part of a new towing package. That's all we could find out, but this tow mirror looked well done and was packed full of image and mirror stabilizing technology. For more information, call 800-783-8871 or go to www.velvac.com.
Middle Bed Storage
We love this clever use of side-access storage that doesn't lose any of the versatility of a short-bed pickup truck. And although we noted in the video (above) that Ford "used to" do this, we've since learned Ford still offers the Midbox Package through most dealerships. For more information on this CaseCo Midbox, call 800-291-6445 or go to www.midbox.com.
A.R.E. Bed Caps
We found this new bed cap, called the Work Cover LS, in the A.R.E. booth; what we like about this is you get both maximum side access with gull-wing doors for drop-in gear as well as a scissor-hinged rear latch for oversized slide-in cargo. So far the tops are only fitted to 76-inch Toyota beds, but A.R.E. is planning more applications. It also offered an interesting commercial truck cap called the Site Commander that offers plenty of storage and flexible access in a tight fiberglass package. For more information, call 800-464-2042 or go to www.4ARE.com.
American Force Wheels
Those who are into the 2500 and 3500 pickup market will know about American Force Wheels, makers of heavy-duty custom rims. The company's eight-lug to 10-lug conversion kits are quite popular, but now it's making medium-duty rims for 2500/3500 trucks so hard-working businesses can put more durable and stronger tires on their work trucks. We think that's a great idea, and they look cool too. For more information, call 877-427-6773 or go to www.americanforcewheels.com.
It's finally happened. You can now purchase and install a plug-in hybrid kit for your full-size van or pickup truck. It's not cheap, but it's not as expensive as you might think. Depending on the type of duty cycles you have with your fully amortized E-Series Ford van, you could make up the cost of the install in less than three years. Install the electric generator behind the transmission, mount the inverter on the frame rail, swap out the spare tire for the battery pack and you're good - all for $10,000 for a plug-in kit or $8,000 for a non-plug-in kit. For more information, call 855-324-6288 or go to www.echoautomotive.com.
If this product looks familiar, you may have seen the hosts of the hit TV show "Shark Tank" misunderstand exactly what this product has to offer. The Invi-sa-Rack is a hideaway cargo bed support system that literally folds into the side bed of a pickup truck. When clicked in place, the truck rack can hold up to 500 pounds and then disappear in seconds. Long-bed racks are around $600, but racks can be configured for just about any size bed. For more information, call 800-779-2102 or go to www.deezee.com.
GM Heavy-Duty Crew Cabs
As noted in the video, General Motors did not make any official announcement but it will be extending its offerings in the bi-fuel compressed natural gas arena. Previously announced only for the extended cab 2500 HD Silverado and Sierra (in both long and short bed and 4x2 and 4x4), GM will also make the crew cab 2500 HDs available with the same CNG powertrain option. See your local GM or GM Commercial dealer for more information.
Curt's HD Hitch
As full-size HD pickups continue to increase towing capacities, so do hitch companies. Curt Manufacturing makes a full lineup of heavy-duty bumper hitches that include the XD (rated to 16,000 pounds), the XD+ (17,000 pounds), the Commercial Duty (18,000 pounds) and now the new Commercial Duty Plus, rated for a 20,000-pound trailer. The hitch uses a 2.5-inch receiver and thicker steel reinforcements; we're told it costs less than $500. For more information, call 877-287-8634 or go to www.curtmfg.com.
In the world of heavy work with heavy-duty pickups, overloading a truck's suspension with a plow blade, work equipment or trailer happens with regularity. For that reason, SuperSprings offers both front and rear "airless airbags" to help control and support extra weight. The best thing about the airbags is that you get their full benefits only in overload situations - otherwise they have no effect. For more information, call 805-745-5553 or go to www.supersprings.com.
Rotary Portable Lifts
You have to admit, as impractical as it might be to purchase portable lifts for yourself (although we'd love one of these), this would be a great thing to have available for a fleet business. Not only can you lift just about anything you can drive into a big-rig garage, you can take the four lifts on the road and meet your injured truck wherever it sits. Each corner is independently battery powered, but the controls work wirelessly with system control units on each pillar. Yes, it's a little pricey but think of the neighbors you'll impress. For more information, call 800-640-5438 or go to www.rotarylift.com.