Focus on fuel

Class 1-3 Class 4-7 Class 8

While OEMs are offering altogether new models this year across the GVW spectrum, the biggest action is in the Class 1-3 segment. In this highly competitive arena, five nameplates are rolling out at least one new or thoroughly redesigned van or pickup model.

Light-duty debuts include the Ford Transit and the Ram ProMaster vans as well as full redesigns of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and General Motors’ pickup stable mates, the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Meanwhile, Class 4-7 truck builders are generally holding steady with their lineups and primarily announcing enhancements and options for their models. The biggest exceptions in the medium-duty segment are Ram’s higher weight ratings for its heavy-duty pickup and chassis-cab offerings along with word that Workhorse is looking to introduce an all-electric step van model.

Up in Class 8, four new models have been rolled out: the heavy-haul Volvo VNX and the Freightliner 122SD, and the vocational Kenworth T880 and Peterbilt Model 567. Other developments in the segment include the availability of two SCR-equipped engines in the International ProStar tractor as well as the re-launch of that OEM’s 9900i heavy-haul and PayStar 5900 SBA models.

The clearest trend spotted across the weight classes this year can be summed up in two words: more mpg. Truck makers are continuing their pursuit to boost fuel economy without impinging on key vehicle-performance metrics.

There are more fuel-sipping options than ever in the light end. The Ford Transit offers both a diesel and an EcoBoost gasoline engine. The gasoline engines in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra boast cylinder deactivation to save fuel when less power is required. And both the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter and the Ram ProMaster offer integrated diesel engines and automatic transmissions to optimize fuel efficiency.

Medium-duty trucks offering fuel-efficiency enhancements include the International TerraStar with its Allison Optimized 1000 Series automatic gearbox and the optional roof fairings for the Kenworth T270 and T370.

In Class 8, power on the Freightliner 122SD is a GHG14-compliant Detroit engine. Kenworth’s T880 features the Paccar MX-13 engine, characterized as a lightweight, fuel-efficient package. Mack’s high-horsepower Econodyne diesel is described as capable of maximizing fuel efficiency. In addition, truck makers are expanding the availability of alternatively fueled trucks.

Whether their operations run light-, medium- or heavy-duty trucks, fleet owners will find this special section presents information on the newest models as well as other significant changes coming to North American trucks in the year ahead.


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