It’s Monday, March 8, 2021 and it’s media day for NTEA – Work Truck Week 2021.
The morning kicked off early with a welcoming address from Steve Carey, NTEA president and CEO. If you weren’t able to attend – or even if you were, Work Truck covered the top news and announcements from Work Truck Show day 1 in 2021.
“We want to thank you all for taking the time to join us. Although not the event we are accustomed to in March, one thing the previous year has taught us is to be flexible in everything we do. Given the current limitations, we wanted to create an opportunity to connect and share information. We look forward to seeing you next March, back in Indianapolis,” Carey said, welcoming attendees to the event.
Media day included presentations from Ford Commercial Vehicles, Mack Trucks, Buyers Products, XL Fleet, and Ranger Design.
Ford Commercial Vehicles
Ford Commercial Vehicles kicked off the morning of press conferences.
In addition to announcing the Ford F-600’s win for Medium-Duty Truck of the Year from Work Truck, Ford announced several exciting announcements including the launch of Ford Telematics regardless of vehicle make.
Philip Podgorny, general manager, commercial and government fleet sales opened the meeting with an overview of commercial vehicle updates and a push toward electrification.
“We are investing heavily in the commercial space, with roughly 650 dedicated commercial vehicle sales are ready to service our complete line,” Podgorny said.
Podgorny noted the expansion of Ford's mobile service operations, extending serving hours and priority service, and noted the earlier announcement on the update on the Ford F-150 digital owner’s manual.
Alex Purdy – director of enterprise connectivity at Ford, shared how the automaker is leveraging digital solutions such as Ford Telematics, which offers vehicle health tools at no extra cost. Since 2018 embedded modems in newer fords and plug-in devices in older models have empowered fleets. With the just-announced all-make compatibility, this solution is available regardless of vehicle make and the service is complimentary.
The automaker is also focused on the electric future with monitoring solutions and data to help fleets better manage their vehicle fleet.
Some new services announced for 2021 include the ability to remotely lock or unlock a single or group of vehicles, remote scheduled pre-conditioning, and the ability to offer predictive maintenance and trouble alerts.
Ford Telematics launched in 2020 and has been continually updated. A newly updated dashboard helps fleets see key trends. The live map function allows fleets to see current vehicle location, create custom geofences, see traffic, find drivers and nearby addresses, and access trip history.
New features include diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs), recalls, engine hours, and diesel signals that help prevent damage to emissions equipment. The driver behavior dashboard and driver score enable fleet managers to create custom and targeted driver coaching to improve behavior. Finally, there are alerts such as notifications of severe incidents and vehicle misuse.
Additionally, Ford announced that it is making its vehicle health tools complimentary across the Ford Commercial Vehicle Range.
Starting with the 2021 Ford F-150, over-the-air-updates will help eliminate the need for visiting the dealer for updates.
Also, Ford teamed up with WEX to help select the best fleet card for your fleet.
Fleet-wide energy monitoring tools are also being offered to help transition to a greener fleet with public or home charge management solutions and an EV fleet dashboard.
Mack Trucks provided an update on its MD Series and Mack Granite.
Jonathan Randall, Mack’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, started off the 2021 press conference.
Mack’s MD6 (Class 6, 25,995-pound GVWR) and MD7 (Class 7, 33,000-pound GVWR) were the focus today. Both trucks are free from the FET Tax. Typical applications for the MD series include van/reefer, dump, stake/flatbed, and tank.
“Why did Mack get into the medium-duty market? Our customers asked for it. They wanted a single source solution for their Class 6-7 needs. The medium-duty market is typically around 100,000 units per year (87,000 units estimated for 2021 per ACT Research),” Randall noted.
Mack also invested $13 million in Roanoke Valley Operations and production started Sept. 1, 2020. And, while Mack doesn’t share its market share goals, Randall shared that the automaker does have an aggressive target for 2021 and so far, orders are keeping pace.
In addition, Mack is focused on uptime support with Geotab Go, Mack One Call and Mack ASIST, and Mack’s Uptime Center for planned and unplanned service events.
Tim Wrinkle – construction product manager for Mack Trucks, shared details on the MD series big brother, the Mack Granite.
Wrinkle shared that Command Steer for the Mack Granite is now in production. Command Steering is variable steering assist for greater control. It uses multiple sensors to receive input (more than 2,000 times per second) and monitors road conditions, driver inputs, and environmental elements to help make steering the trucks easy on the driver. Additionally, the return-to-zero feature in forward and reverse simplifies low-speed maneuvers.
Command Steer is available on Anthem and Granite Axle Back models currently.
Mack enhanced its axle warranty on 2022-MY Mack Trucks moving forward. Mack has three normal warranty applications depending on vehicle application and the manufacturer updated each of them.
The Mack mRide suspension with Mack axles works to provide a smoother ride and has shed some pounds, saving 140 pounds with drum brakes or 146 pounds with disc brakes.
In response to a question related to potential supplied shortages, Randall noted that, “Regarding supplier shortages, like others, we are not immune to the impact. So far we've been able thus far to work our way through the issues without interrupting production. The situation is fluid and we're continuing to do everything we can to minimize impact to our customers.”
Buyers Products continues to show its commitment to American manufacturing through significant investments in production technology, warehouse capacity and speed of delivery.
For 75 years, Buyers Products has been a part of the work truck industry.
While 2020 brought supply chain challenges, Buyers worked to support essential businesses. Buyers announced that it is more than doubling the size of its distribution center for 2021, with a new facility expansion due to be completed by the end of the year.
It is over capacity for its current building, built in 2002. Its current facility was meant to handle around 200 to 250 truck loads per day. For the past few years, the facility has had 350 truck loads per day on average.
Some additions include automated conveyors to help speed up orders and better support its customers among other automated solutions. Additional investments in order orchestrations are being made to help pick orders faster.
XL Fleet is leveraging its electrification leadership and strong partnership with GM to introduce the market’s first plug-in hybrid electric Chevy Silverado 2500/3500 HD and GM 3500/4500 Chassis, which will be available for fleets by the summer of 2021.
Eric Foellmer, director of marketing for XL Fleet shared a highlight or 2020 when the company became publicly traded, which enabled it to raise more capital to grow its team and expand its operation.
Foellmer introduced the Silverado 2500/3500HD family of pickup trucks now available as a plug-in hybrid drive system from XL Fleet.
XL Fleet discussed its previously announced partnership with Curbtender, a provider of refuse trucks. XL Fleet will be co-developing an all-electric version of some of its most popular vehicles, as well as hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions.
“It’s a great opportunity to electrify an industry with some of the most heavily polluting vehicles today,” Foellmer added.
Foellmer shared the previously announced XL Grid division that will be rolled out over the next several months, allowing the deployment of large volumes of charging infrastructure.
The big announcement of the day was the availability of the plug-in electric drive system for the Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 HD.
XL has electrified these trucks with hybrid models for some time, and is excited about the new plug-in hybrid option.
The battery packs are mounted completely underneath the chassis, a brand-new configuration in line with XL’s next-gen battery pack. Foellmer noted that the plug-in system will result in a 50% mpg improvement and a 33% reduction in CO2 emissions compared to the traditionally-fueled model.
The battery pack is larger than the one offered in the hybrid model and can be plugged in via the rear bumper plug port in the rear of the vehicle. Charging is compatible with any J1772 plug. Level 1 (wall outlet) would charge overnight; Level 2 is roughly 4 hours for a full charge.
The system will be available on the 6.6L engine with the 4x4 driveline, on the 149-inch wheelbases or up, and it's available on double or crew cab options in any bed size. You can even do bed delete for a completely configurable truck.
XL's plug-in hybrid-electric drive technology is now also available for GM 3500 and 4500 chassis configurations on 6.6L engines across all wheelbase types.
The system weighs approximately 750 pounds.
Ranger design presented the final press conference for the day and is leveraging its upfit partners and network to offer a full solution to fleets and leasing companies.
Ranger Design briefly discussed the previously announced launch of Ranger Fleet Upfit Solutions, designed to provide turnkey fleet options for customers across North America.
“For over 30 years, Ranger Design has grown its position as an industry leader in van solution manufacturing for small and large fleets. We now look to build on our success with an eye to the future by expanding our solutions to respond to the challenges and opportunities, as shared by our customers, in regards to the lifecycle of their fleets,” said Peter Young, Head of Business Development for XL Fleet.