Tooele, Utah. As Navistar gets set to introduce a number of new products and technologies, the company has been convening over 700 dealers from across the country over the past four weeks at a Vocational Boot Camp here at the Miller Motorsports Park complex.
The month-long boot camp is an opportunity for International dealers from around the country to learn about Navistar’s vocational offerings, drive the vehicles on-road and off-road, and get an inside look at everything from engines to bumpers. Also available were competitor models to give the dealers knowledge on those products as well.
“We try to walk [customers] through what’s good about our product and what’s good about our competitor’s product,” said Jim Hebe, executive vice president-North American sales. “If our dealer tells their customers something good about our competitors that even their salespeople didn’t know about, that’s instant credibility.
“The whole idea here is not to teach a sales story about our competitors, the whole idea is to teach our dealers [everything they need to know to sell a truck],” Hebe added.
Dealers had a chance to drive over 50 vehicles, including the LoadStar, the new TerraStar 4x4 (which begins production in February), the WorkStar 7600 sloped nose with LoneStar interior, and the PayStar. Dealers also received in-depth training on the MaxxForce 7 and DT engines and how those powerplants stack up against competitors.
The event was held at the Miller Motorsports Park complex.
“We have an inherent philosophy in our company that we want our dealers to [be experts in what they sell],” Hebe said.
During his speech, Hebe pointed out another fact: Freightliner is nipping at the heels of International’s long-held dominance in the vocational market with about 24% market share compared to International’s 26%.
Still, Hebe pointed out that International has always been, and will always be a vocational truck company and it expects to maintain its market-leading edge.
“What becomes clear and what becomes evident is we’re really a vocational company; that’s what we were 100 years ago and that’s what we are today,” he said. “We’re really a medium-duty truck and engine company in the vocational market. That’s what we are.”
Based on the applause received, one of the highlights for the dealers is the confirmation of a February production date for the Class 4-5 TerraStar 4x4. With an Allison 1350 transmission rated up to 30,000 lbs. GCW, the company is excited over its entry into the market.
The TerraStar also comes with an 8,000 lb. Dana front drive axle, 4.30 gear ratios and a Fabco T28 transfer case.
Just as exciting for dealers is the debut of the LoadStar, set for next July. One change to the initial plans is that the vehicle will now launch with a Cummins ISL-G 8.9L natural gas engine – either CNG or LNG. Diesel models will not be available for some 4-6 months after its debut.
“We felt the way to not slow down the market launch and address half the market right away was to launch with the ISL-G,” said Steve Gilligan, vice president of product marketing, pointing out that within two year’s time, as many as half of all refuse vehicles sold in the U.S. will be alternative-fuel powered.
The LoadStar’s cab is made of stainless steel to fight corrosion and includes variable depth frame rail, 3004 sq. in. windshield, LED lighting, 16 in. off-set step heights, 96 deg. door openings, standard curved windows and a flat floor with no obstructions to make it easy to get in and out of the vehicle.
It will be available in left, right, or dual drive and a standup right-hand drive model will be available in the future as well.
The LoadStar will also come standard with Navistar’s Diamond Logic electrical system which will help with the integration of bodies and chassis.