To meet the needs of the commercial truck industry, Meritor Automotive Inc. has thrown its backing to a new company that will create an electronic marketplace for the medium- and heavy-duty truck aftermarket industry. is an independent, Internet-based business-to-business service parts trading exchange. It will be based in Boston, employ 58 people initially, and go online in late summer 2000. There are 15 "significant players" signed on as pilot participants in the first "neutral vertical market exchange for the trucking industry," says Larry Yost, Meritor's chairman and chief executive. The goal is a global one-stop procurement link for fleets and suppliers to establish contracts, stock orders, preferred vendors and bidding. Eventually it also will be used for enhanced transactions such as auctions, reverse auctions, consolidated billing service, chat rooms, repair diagnostics, education and training for fleet operations. The company likely will go public in less than three years, says Thomas Madden, senior vice president of finance for Meritor,'s major shareholder.