Brooke Wisdom | May 5, 2011

Jobsite trucks get headline treatment

Truck manufacturers at CONEXPO-CON/AGG made sure contractors knew they weren’t going anywhere.

By Jack Roberts and Staff Reports

Freightliner: Severe Duty

Freightliner had a singular message at this year’s show: It is recommitting to the North American vocational truck market in a big way. And to back up its words, Freightliner has released a new family of work trucks, the Class 7 and 8 Severe Duty (SD) line.

Designed for larger capacity cranes with ratings from 30 to 50 tons, the 114SD is available in both set-forward and set-back axle positions.

Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) had designated the Sterling brand as its vocational truck line, with Freightliner concentrating on long-haul applications. And while this strategy worked for a while, David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy for Freightliner, admits now that it gave the impression vocational trucks were a secondary concern for Freightliner. “That was never true,” he says. “Freightliner has always taken vocational markets seriously.”

Hames says increasing costs and the looming EPA emissions regulations forced DTNA to pull the plug on Sterling in 2011. But now, the Freightliner SD will pick up where Sterling left off. The trucks feature bold and aggressive new styling, designed to help differentiate the vocational line from the company’s long-haul product offerings.

Freightliner invested in serious frame, suspension, PTO and axle upgrades to insure productivity and efficiency on jobsites. These enhancements have been coupled with a renewed dedication to optimize body installation procedures, spearheaded by developing close engineering relationships with leading body installers.

The new Freightliner SD series will consist of both 108- and 114-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab configurations – both with set-back axle positions as well as a Coronado SD version for extreme heavy-hauls and severe off-road applications. The 108SD features a 42-inch set-back axle with ratings from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds and single and tandem rear axle options from 21,000 to 46,000 pounds.

The Freightliner 114SD vocational truck has a set-forward axle with a standard 31-inch position or an optional 29.5 bridge formula configuration, and a set-back 48-inch setting for enhanced maneuverability. Front axle ratings are for the 114SD are available up to 23,000 pounds and heavy rear axle configurations for single axles are available up to 38,000 pounds.

Navistar: MaxxForce 15, integrated mixer line

Navistar showcased the company’s long-awaited 15-liter EGR-only diesel engine for severe duty vocational applications.

The Navistar mixer model will be sold and serviced through Continental Mixer dealers. Production launch is expected for fall 2011.

Senior vice president Jim Hebe noted that to fill the 15-liter gap in Navistar’s diesel engine line-up, the company essentially had four options: “We could have developed our own, which would have taken too long,” he explained. “We could have turned to a European partner – but none were available. We could have gone to SCR, which was not in the best interest of our customers. Or we could find the best available engine technology available in North America in the Caterpillar C15 block and leverage that with our air, fuel turbo and electronic systems. This is Navistar engine technology and expertise built upon a proven Caterpillar platform.”

The MaxxForce 15 diesel is available with up to 550 horsepower and 1,850 pound-feet of torque. Peak torque is reached at 1,000 rpm and holds steady to 1,600 rpm, according to Navistar. This reduced gear shifts in uphill terrain and allows for shifting at lower speeds when accelerating. The MaxxForce 15 will be built in Navistar’s Huntsville, Alabama, engine plant and is available now in vocational configurations.

Navistar also formed a strategic partnership with Indiana Phoenix to produce a new front-discharge Continental Mixer truck this fall. The mixer will complement the company’s line-up of rear discharge mixers while integrating the components and engineering expertise of Navistar.

Mack: MHD Granite

Mack Trucks debuted a “medium-heavy-duty” version of its Granite model, geared to segments that are more price sensitive and don’t require severe duty specs to get the job done. “In the current economic environment, companies are taking an even harder look at how much truck they truly need,” say Curtis Dorwart, Mack vocational products marketing manager. The Granite MHD, he says, offers “valuable weight and cost savings.”

The Granite MHD is available in both axle-forward and axle-back configurations, is powered by a Cummins ISL9 engine and offered with an Eaton manual or Allison automatic transmission.

Mack also announced that both its Granite Axle Forward and Granite Axle Back models can now be ordered with a 36-inch flat-top sleeper, as well as rear and side window options. “We’ve seen a considerable increase in the number of vocational customers expanding their operations beyond regional sites,” Dowart said, adding the Mack Granite sleeper is ideal for operations “working to meet the federal hours of service requirements.” EW

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