In 1998 Charlotte Montgomery, group product manager at Lionel at the time, informed the S Gaugian that Lionel had "brand new tooling" for an SD40-2 to be inroduced later in the year. That would make sense--the second most popular EMD locomotive with almost 4,000 sold. It never appeared. I agree with Rusty that the SD40-2 would be a popular choice that Lionel could continue producing in a wide variety of paint liveries for a long time. Offering scale wheels as an option could only guarantee its success.
The mechanical reefer was probably withdrawn for lack of pre-orders. That hesitancy on the part of buyers may have been caused by the initial offering of the cylindrical hoppers guaranteed to appeal to no one: 1) scale wheels that would not work for high-railers who represent the majority of S scale modelers, and 2) huge AF couplers, "flood pants" height off the rails, and fantasy paint schemes mocked by true scalers--who couldn't use the hoppers either because the wheels were out of gauge. To Lionel's credit they made a number of changes to this model to make it much more appealing. But we lost the mechanical reefer.
The flaws so apparent in the first cylindrical hopper would suggest that rather than asking 20 Flyonel collectors, Lionel asked no one for that release. There have been some real hits in the past few years, however. The Mikado, Pacific, Challenger, U33C (with road-specific details on several models in the first release), SD70ACe, ES44AC, Y3, and the Berkshire were all nicely detailed and good runners. The latter versions even accommodated DCC. If Lionel were to standardize diesel wheelsets, provide scale wheelset options for easy swapping out of high-rail sets, and standardize included scale coupler pads, they would cover most of the S community at little risk, little cost. Maybe 14 out of 20 S modelers would agree on that.
I feel the SD40-2 tooling comment was smoke and mirrors coming from Lionel. They may have had research, but no steel was cut.(IMO) Seriously, the locomotive was cancelled shortly after the brochures came out.
The "model" photographed was nothing more than a photoshopped Athearn HO model complete with the crimp on handrails that Athearn used at the time. Even the mounting for the Athearn snap-on coupler box is visible above the photoshopped coupler..
The boogy-boogy thing about the mechanical reefer was it was cancelled on the day they were anticipated to be delivered. My LHS showed me the letter. Why not announce the cancellation shortly after the pre-order window was closed?
99.9% of the scalers that bought the cylindrical hoppers figured out how to put scale truck on them, even me. It took me about 10 minutes once I saw what was involved to put scale trucks under the car.
Yet Lionel treated it like rocket science. Rather than making the bolster the proper height, they tooled up for a pad to lower a Kadee coupler.
Simply put with regards to Flyer and scale, there's the right way, the wrong way and the Lionel way.