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Martin Marietta Materials, Inc. has entered into a licensing agreement with Composittrailer n.v., of Lokeren, Belgium, to manufacture and market commercial truck trailers in North America, utilizing fiber-reinforced composite materials.
Under the agreement, Martin Marietta will produce trailers using Composittrailer’s patented, all-composite chassis technology and will enhance the trailer products based on Martin Marietta’s own composite fabrication expertise. Initially, trailers will be manufactured at the Composittrailer factory in Belgium; however, Martin Marietta plans to relocate manufacturing to the United States within one to two years. The introductory product will be an open-top trailer with a composite slat conveyor floor for the waste, agriculture and woodchip markets. A broader range of products is planned, including flatbed and refrigerated trailers.
Fiber-reinforced composites, made of continuous glass or carbon fabrics in a polymer resin, have long been recognized as having high strength, durability, low weight and corrosion resistance. Commercial truck trailers made of these composite materials are significantly lighter than aluminum trailers, enabling higher cargo loads, therefore, reducing freight costs by 5% to 15%. In addition, the trailers have longer lives and lower maintenance costs.
Stephen P. Zelnak, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Martin Marietta, stated, “”Our Company is looking forward to introducing composite commercial truck trailers to the North American market. This agreement with Composittrailer is an extension of our Company’s expertise in structural composite materials and represents a significant stepping stone to broader commercial applications. The American transportation industry is just beginning to consider the use of composites to reduce costs and increase the serviceable life of trailers. Our initial focus will be in the live-floor trailer market with $300 million in annual sales. However, we estimate the potential size of the composite truck trailer market in the United States to be $2.5 billion to $3 billion in annual sales, with the total truck trailer market at approximately $5 billion annually.
“”In fall 2002, after closed track testing is complete, we expect to introduce two prototype all-composite commercial trailer units to the United States markets. We expect to begin to accept orders for trailers in early 2003. Sales are expected to be modest in 2003 and accelerate in 2004, consistent with industry acceptance of and demand for this new technology. As indicated, all assembly will be initially completed in Belgium to U.S. specification utilizing U.S. components with the establishment of United States’ assembly facilities most likely expected in early 2004.””
Composittrailer recently received the European Road Transport Innovation Award for its composite commercial truck trailer at the 2002 International Truck Show in Amsterdam. The trailer also won an award for Most Innovative Application at the Fifth World Pultrusion Conference in Berlin in April 2000, and later won the Trailer Award at the 2001 International Trailer Show in Kortrijk, Belgium. The trailer was runner up for the Best New Product Award at the 2002 International Composites Exposition recently held in Paris, France.
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