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New yard tractor entering market

BY HBSDealer Staff

Balqon Corp., a developer of electric drive system technologies for commercial electric vehicles, has unveiled a battery-powered all-electric yard tractor that incorporates the company’s electric vehicle drive system.

The system encompasses complete power management, propulsion and power conversation systems, and includes drive trains and energy systems (i.e., batteries and a charging system). The new product also incorporates a European chassis developed by Mol Transport Solutions, a manufacturer of trucks, trailers and waste management systems in Europe. It features an ergonomic cabin design and air bag suspension.

In its announcement, Balqon Corp. said it believes that the operating costs of the European yard tractor will be 74% lower than the operating costs of its conventional diesel competitors, making the European yard tractor a cost-effective alternative in warehouse and marine port applications in Europe, especially in light of current average diesel fuel prices in Europe of approximately $7 per gallon.

"High fuel costs and environmental laws that are favorable to clean energy make Europe an attractive market for Balqon Corporation’s heavy-duty electric vehicles and drive systems," said Balwinder Samra, president and CEO of Balqon Corp.

"The product, which Balqon Corporation jointly developed with MOL Transportation Solutions, a strategic partner based in Europe, is the first in the zero emissions heavy-duty tractor market in Europe. It marks what we believe to be the beginning of a shift to zero emissions container movement vehicles in the continent."

The European yard tractor can tow loads over 30 tons with a range of more than 16 hours of operation on a single charge. The vehicle also demonstrates below 69 db in noise level and incorporates the latest idle-shut off technologies that increase energy conservation during vehicle idling. The new vehicle incorporates Balqon Corp.’s proprietary battery management system and charging systems that are compliant with current European safety standards.

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Home Depot posts another quarter of growth

BY HBSDealer Staff

Stormy weather around the country had something to do with Home Depot’s third-quarter sales gain of 2.9%. So did strength in core categories.

The world’s largest home improvement retailer posted a 4.2% comp-store sales gain for the quarter ended Oct. 30. Total sales increased 2.9% to $17.326 billion. And even bigger growth came in the net earnings column, where Home Depot reported a 13.0% increase and net earnings of $934 million.

“Our third quarter was driven by strength in our core categories and storm-related sales, as well as strong operating performance,” said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. “We will continue to invest in our core initiatives to provide customers with exceptional customer service and great product values. I would like to thank our associates for their hard work and dedication.”

At the end of the third quarter, the company operated a total of 2,246 retail stores in the United States and abroad.

The report follows by one day the third-quarter report of rival Lowe’s, which posted comp-store sales of positive 0.7%  and an earnings decline. 

Home Depot also announced that its board of directors declared a 16% increase in its quarterly dividend to 29 cents per share.

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Pergo, Uniboard up for sale

BY Brae Canlen

The German parent company of laminate flooring maker Pergo has put its North American operations on the block, according to an article in the Triangle Business Journal of Raleigh/Durham North Carolina. 

Although no buyer has been identified yet, a company spokesperson for Pfleiderer AG, which also owns fiberboard producer Uniboard, said the parent company hopes to conclude the sales process for its North American operations by mid-2012.

Pergo employs approximately 165 people at its flooring manufacturing plant and distribution facility in Garner, N.C., according to the article. Uniboard opened a $160 million expansion of its wood-paneling plant in Moncure, N.C., in early 2010 and employs about 250 people in Chatham County. The Moncure plant is Uniboard’s largest and most technically advanced fiberboard plant in North America. The company has four other plants in Canada.

Pfleiderer underwent a financial restructuring earlier this year, and as part of its deal with creditors, the company needs to reduce hundreds of millions in debt, according to the article. 

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