Last year, Mack re-entered the medium-duty truck market after an 18-year hiatus, releasing its Mack MD Series in September 2020. The series ups the ante from Mack’s prior medium-duty truck, the Renault-based Freedom, last available in 2002.
So, one year in, what has reception been to the MD series? We checked in with Dayle Wetherell, Mack Trucks vice president of medium duty sales, to get the dirt on the successes, challenges, and future plans for the trucks.
About the MD Series
With three available models to handle various applications — the MD6, MD6 Low Profile, and MD7 — Mack invested $13 million to establish the Roanoke Valley Operations (RVO) facility in Virginia to produce the series.
The Class 6 model comes with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 25,995 pounds, thereby not requiring the driver to have a CDL so long as the payload is non-hazardous, and the Class 7 model comes with a GVWR of 33,000 pounds. Available in 4x2 configurations, each truck also comes equipped with Geotab Go for one year. After so many years focused on heavy-duty vehicles, why did the truck manufacturer return to medium duty, anyway? The decision was largely driven by interest from the Mack dealer network looking to meet the needs of Class 8 customers who also operate Class 6-7 trucks, Wetherell explained.
Looking at the interest coupled with a medium-duty market consistently around 80,000 to 100,000 trucks annually, the company realized it was time to leverage the strength of their Class 8 product range to develop the new MD Series.
Industry Reception & COVID’s Impact
The Mack MD Series was first announced in January 2020 with the hopes to generate enthusiasm and support from its dealer network. We all know what came a couple months after that; the global pandemic struck, adding unforeseen challenges throughout the industry.
“Like all truck manufacturers at the start of the pandemic, we faced some initial delays with production ramp up at Mack’s RVO plant,” Wetherell recalled. “We reworked our manufacturing processes to ensure that all COVID-19 health and safety protocols were met, per CDC, state, and county guidelines. As the situation evolved, we’ve ramped up production, based on growing demand.”
Despite the setbacks, interest from customers and dealers continues to increase, according to Wetherell. “We continue to see sales increasing every month, from all U.S. regions and Canada,” he said. “Mack dealers were wanting a robust medium-duty offer, and they have stepped up to promote the Mack MD6 and MD7 models. Dealers have also demonstrated their commitment and confidence in the product by placing them in their own lease fleets.”
Mack was able to rise to the challenge of balancing the depth of offer against speed to market.
“We have a product that meets the needs of 75% of the medium-duty market,” Wetherell said, noting a positive mix of existing and new customer orders for the MD.
Dealers have earned some nice fleet orders (50-plus) for both the MD6 and MD7, equipped with a variety of dry vans, refrigerated, and flatbed bodies.
Fleet Applications & Future Plans
So far, the series has found a home in the towing car carrier application, with a strong chassis for utility bodies and construction in a variety of flatbed vocations.
Wetherell said they are also starting to see the MD6 put to work as 12-bay beverage trucks, as well as acceptance in the dry van and refrigerated van markets. In addition, Mack MD trucks are being spec’d for waste collection, dump trucks, towing and recovery trucks, and tank trucks for delivering fuel oil, propane, and water.
Mack’s signature bulldog on the hood stands for its place in the work truck market, and the company said their primary goal is to continue executing on building high-quality vehicles to meet the needs of the industry.