GM unveils heavy-duty pickups

New diesel and gasoline powerplants for Sierra and SilveradoGeneral Motors Corp. recently introduced the 3/4- and 1-ton pickups, the HD Sierra and Silverado.These pickups come in three modular frames: the 2500 HD, 3500 HD and chassis cab configuration. At the lighter end of the line is the 2500 HD, with a GVW of 9,200 lb. Both 3500 HD models - a regular 2-wheel drive package and a 4-wheel-drive "dually"

New diesel and gasoline powerplants for Sierra and Silverado

General Motors Corp. recently introduced the 3/4- and 1-ton pickups, the HD Sierra and Silverado.

These pickups come in three modular frames: the 2500 HD, 3500 HD and chassis cab configuration. At the lighter end of the line is the 2500 HD, with a GVW of 9,200 lb. Both 3500 HD models - a regular 2-wheel drive package and a 4-wheel-drive "dually" chassis - sport a GVW of 11,400 lb. The chassis cab is a four-door dually package, available in either a 2-wheel-drive, 11,400-lb.-GVW model, or a 4-wheel-drive, 12,000-lb.-GVW model.

The new vehicles feature a cleaner frame to mount a variety of truck bodies, as well as better transmission/PTO integration.

GM's 2001 HD Series pickups have enhanced power, torque, durability and capability. First on the list is a 6.6-liter turbocharged Duramax diesel engine. Built through a joint venture between GM and Isuzu - DMAX Ltd. - the Duramax 660 provides 300 hp. at 3,100 rpm and 520 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,800 rpm. Fuel economy has been improved by 15-20% over its 6.5-liter predecessor.

On the gasoline side, GM introduced an 8.1-liter Vortec V8 to replace its 7.4-liter model. The Vortec 8100 provides 340 hp. at 4,200 rpm and 455 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,200 rpm and offers 4% improved fuel economy over the 7.4-liter model. Finally, GM revamped its 6.0-liter Vortec 6000 gasoline engine to offer 300 hp. at 4,400 rpm and 360 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,000 rpm.

All 2500 and 3500 HD Series models can be converted to run on alternative fuels, using either the Vortec 8100 or 6000 engine.

GM plans to offer as standard the ZF 6-speed manual and Hydra-Matic 4L80-E 4-speed automatic transmissions. However, it believes fleets will want to upgrade to the optional Allison 1000 5-speed automatic package designed specifically to handle the 520 lb.-ft. of torque produced by the Duramax diesel engine.

The Allison package also comes with an exclusive design feature called "grade braking," which will automatically downshift depending on the speed of the vehicle and the steepness of a descending hill. A removable plate makes PTO installation easier.

Other features abound. Torsion bar front suspension is standard on all 2-wheel- and 4-wheel-drive models, boosting front axle capacity to 4,800 lb., with rear suspension capacity increased to 8,600 lb.

In an interview with Fleet Owner, John G. Middlebrook, vp & general manager for vehicle brand marketing, explained that the HD Sierra and Silverado launch represents a major push by GM to win back commercial business. "We're going to work heavily on one-to-one relationship marketing with fleet customers," Middlebrook said.

GM had been held back from greater fleet sales in the 3/4- and 1-ton market in the past because it lacked what Middlebrook called a "serious" diesel engine. "We lost some business to Ford over the last few years because we didn't have the GVW or diesel performance - and the diesel market makes up roughly half of the 1-ton pickup sales," he said. "Now, we are going to go right back in and see if we can get some fleet customers back that used to be with us. We think we now have enough attributes in power, performance and efficiency to take business away from our competitors."

The new vinyl RoaDor roll-up cargo door from Fleet Engineers never needs repainting and weighs 50% less than standard wood doors. Features include quiet and rustproof nylon rollers, foamed, steel-reinforced panels, and a self-positioning spring roller system that provides a tight seal. Doors can be cut to any height and width. Panels slide easily together for reduced installation time. 309

ShuttleMaster is a high-cube, removable curtain-sided trailer with a unique lifting roof that increases cargo capacity while reducing loading and unloading times. Built-in features prevent over-height problems. ShuttleMaster offers 115 in. of usable, machine-stackable space and easily adjusts to any power unit's fifth wheel height. The system also works with any width/length trailer and deck height.

Brand name stays, support operations become part of Sterling Trucks

Freightliner announced that the boards of DaimlerChrysler AG and Western Star Trucks Holdings have approved an agreement for Freightliner to acquire Western Star Trucks Holdings.

Freightliner will offer to purchase the outstanding shares at $42 per share (Canadian dollars) for an approximate total purchase price of $670 million (Canadian). The plan also calls for Western Star Australia Pty. Ltd., a subsidiary of Western Star Trucks, to be sold to a corporation associated with Western Star's current chairman, Terry Peabody, for approximately $39 million (Canadian dollars). The purchase includes distribution rights in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific region.

Jim Hebe, president and CEO of Freightliner Corp., expects the transaction to be completed in the fall.

According to Hebe, the Western Star brand name and truck line will continue in the market, while the company's support operations will be integrated with Freightliner's Sterling Trucks division. Hebe said the Western Star truck line is considered to be "entirely complimentary" to the Sterling product line, which will not be reduced to accommodate the Western Star lineup.

Transit bus maker Orion Bus Industries, also a part of the acquisition, will become a part of Freightliner's specialty vehicles operation, which includes Thomas Built Buses.

Western Star vehicles will be distributed through Western Star and Sterling dealers, "selectively and optimally combined" into a single distribution network. The combination creates a total potential network of 460 dealers, only about 10% of which "might wash out for one reason or another," Hebe said, noting the company's reluctance to have dual dealerships with other truck makers.

Freightliner will also gain Western Star's headquarters and truck plant in Kelowna, B.C., and the company's new truck manufacturing plant in North Charleston, S.C., as well as bus manufacturing sites in Mississauga, Ont., and Oriskany, N.Y. Hebe put to rest rumors that the company would relocate the Oriskany operation. "We have no intent to move anything out of upper New York State," he said.

Freightliner is expanding into the light-commercial market by adding the European-bred Sprinter delivery van to its North American product line.

Currently sold by Freightliner's parent, DaimlerChrysler, as a Mercedes-Benz model in both Europe and South America, the Sprinter willbe built and distributed under the Freightliner name in the U.S. and Canada starting in the second quarter of 2001.

According to Freightliner, the Sprinter spans Class 2-3 and is suitable for a range of applications, including parcel and general delivery, passenger transport and such vocational service as utility and light construction.

"Due to new distribution logistics driven by e-commerce, we expect the Class 2 and 3 van market to grow tremendously as goods ordered over the Internet are delivered directly to homes," says Freightliner president and CEO Jim Hebe. "The Sprinter features excellent visibility for operating in busy urban and suburban environments," Hebe adds, "and is easy to maneuver."

The Sprinter's arrival here will let Freightliner claim that it is North America's only full-line commercial vehicle supplier.

The vans will be assembled at Freightliner's recently expanded Gaffney, S.C., plant. The Sprinter will be rolled out in the U.S and Canada first, with Mexico to follow.

A call to 1-800-TIRE-911 puts drivers in touch with Michelin's Emergency Road Service Program - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - in the U.S. and Canada. Program offers 24-hour towing; tractor, truck and trailer replacement rentals; access to more than 30,000 vendors; hourly progress reports; and accident reporting

Updated Xpressway 3.0 CD-ROM parts catalog, TP-9829, from Meritor Automotive provides photos and details on more than 100,000 Meritor parts, including transmissions, drive-axle gearsets and axle shafts, drive axles, brake parts, and other aftermarket parts. For more information, go to www. meritorauto.com

LNG engine, air suspension, day cab concept vehicle head list

The year has started out extremely well for us," observed Michel Gigou, president and CEO of Mack Trucks, during the International Trucking Show last month in Las Vegas. "We are aiming at 14% of the market. A difficult market is a good opportunity for Mack."

Gigou's comments set the stage for the following new product and service introductions.

Mack's Eco-Tech natural gas engine will be available this fall in the Mack CH model, a highway tractor designed for shorthaul distribution operations. The LNG engine has a driving range of more than 600 miles, according to Mack, and can deliver 350 hp. and up to 1,250 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,250 rpm. The compact, 12-liter engine in the CH/LNG tractor is both CARB- and EPA-certified and is designed to be compatible with existing fueling stations in California, Arizona, Colorado and Pennsylvania.

Paul Vikner, Mack executive vp-sales and marketing, credits Mack's long partnership with Waste Management Inc. with helping to bring the engine to the CH model. Mack has already received an order from UPS for ten of the CH/LNG vehicles for use in UPS's Colorado, California and Pennsylvania markets.

A new lightweight day cab concept vehicle was also unveiled. The 6x2 "Vision" tips the scales at only 12,246 lb., according to Mack, without sacrificing durability, reliability or performance.

Several component changes helped the Vision model shed pounds, including super-single tires and the use of aluminum for battery box covers, the flywheel housing, and the suspension, which is Mack's new MaxAir 40A. The truck is powered by Mack's dual horsepower 355/380 E-Tech Maxicruise engine driving Mack's T2060A 6-speed transmission.

Engineers from Mack and Hendrickson Suspension jointly developed the new MaxAir suspension series, which is now available on Vision by Mack and CH model tractors.

The 40,000-lb. MaxAir 40, scheduled for production by mid-year, is designed to provide a 72-lb. weight savings in the standard steel configuration. An additional 40-lb. savings will be available with the optional aluminum version, called the MaxAir 40A, scheduled for release by the end of the year. "The ultralight air suspension product is especially suited to applications like bulk hauling," said Gigou.

A new CL/Cummins combination is targeted for extra-heavy duty or severe service hauling, noted Gigou, as he announced availability of Cummins Signature and Cummins ISX series engines for model year 2001 CL series tractors. The Signature series is available with 600 hp. and 2,050 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,200 rpm. The ISX series offers 565 and 600 hp. and 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,200 rpm. Both dual-cam engines also feature Cummins' integrated brake system, the Intebrake.

In addition to new equipment, Mack also announced the launch of the Mack OneCall CompleteCare customer service network. The toll-free, North American network (1-800-866-1177) is designed to put customers in touch with trained professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year.

Every call comes into a command center staffed by technicians trained at Mack and at vendors' factory schools to handle diagnostic and trouble-shooting situations. When a driver calls the hot line, an expert will be fully capable of identifying the problem and arranging for prompt roadside repairs or, if necessary, a towing service to the nearest Mack dealer - and all within an hour.

Customers who purchase a Vision by Mack tractor also have an opportunity to participate in Mack's 100th anniversary celebration with the purchase of a special gold trim package called the "Millennium Vision."

FleetPride, reportedly the nation's largest aftermarket distributor of heavy-duty truck parts, has acquired Oklahoma Truck Supply Associates. With this acquisition, Deerfield, Ill.-based FleetPride now has more than 170 locations nationwide.

ExxonMobil's Mobil Delvac 1300 Super 15W-40 diesel engine oil has earned Volvo's VDS-2 rating, meaning that the oil meets stringent extended-drain requirements for use in Volvo trucks. Check www.exxon.mobil.com.

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