Freightliner updates medium-duty line with rollout of Business Class M2 series

March 1, 2002
IN AN effort to capture a greater share of the vocational truck market, Freightliner Trucks has completely overhauled its medium-duty product line, which

IN AN effort to capture a greater share of the vocational truck market, Freightliner Trucks has completely overhauled its medium-duty product line, which is now designated the Business Class M2. Over the next two years, the Business Class M2 will completely replace the Business Class product line that was first introduced in 1991.

The new Class 5 to 8 product line was unveiled before an enthusiastic gathering of Freightliner dealers and trade press February 17-20 in Phoenix, Arizona. Freightliner executives said they are optimistic customers will be just as enthusiastic.

“We believe this new Business Class is just as revolutionary as the original Business Class that we introduced in 1991,” said Rainer Schmueckle, president and chief executive officer of Freightliner LLC. “It is one of the largest projects in Freightliner history, and we invested a quarter of a billion dollars in the development effort.

“This is an all-new product, and we are confident that it will help us to expand our position in the medium-duty sector. We are predicting that the medium-duty market in the United States will be around 154,000 trucks in 2002, down slightly from last year.”

The Business Class M2 is targeted at a multitude of industry and commercial truck applications — local and regional distribution, food & beverage delivery, fire and emergency services, fuel oil delivery, utilities, government services, towing & recovery, agriculture, and many others.

Freightliner has established a staggered schedule for the rollout. The first of the Business Class M2 — a 106-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) configuration — will enter production in June. Extended cabs and crew cabs will be available in late 2002. Freightliner will begin building 100-inch BBC and 112-inch BBC units in 2003. Original Business Class models will remain in production until their replacements are available.

Although the Business Class M2 is a completely new vehicle, Freightliner decided to continue the Business Class name because the new truck, like its predecessor, is designed to address the demands of daily business.

“We designed the Business Class M2 truck as an advanced business tool to help customers operate with maximum safety, productivity, and efficiency,” said Mark Lampert, Freightliner senior vice-president sales & marketing. “From frame rails to fit and finish, the Business Class M2 incorporates all we have learned about helping to make our customers more successful in their businesses.”

Key advantages of the new Business Class M2 include:

Superior visibility — A low cab, sloped hood, and 2,500-square-inch windshield provide a panoramic view, contributing to safer operation. The windshield is 20% larger than the one on the current Business Class trucks.

Superb maneuverability — An enhanced up-to-55-degree wheel cut delivers a tight turning radius, a real benefit in crowded streets and narrow alleys. The truck is capable of a turning radius that is 2.5 feet shorter than the current Business Class. “The Business Class M2's tight turning capability will enable the driver to navigate cramped areas more safely and quickly,” said Michael von Mayenburg, Freightliner senior vice-president of engineering & technology.

Driver-friendly cab — A roomier cab and completely redesigned heating/cooling/ventilation system keep drivers comfortable and productive. Wider, taller doors provide easy cab ingress and egress. Freightliner engineers lengthened the cab and shortened the hood of the truck to provide more interior room.

Rugged construction — The lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum cab is designed to meet stringent crashworthiness standards. The cab is constructed with Henrob rivets, adhesives, laser welding, and Huckbolts. Sturdy door construction combines aluminum inner and outer panels with steel reinforcement and is intended to withstand heavy daily use. Strong frame rails stand up to demanding operations. Other standard features include aluminum fuel tanks, plastic battery box, composite headlight covers, flexible bumper end caps, and foldaway mirror brackets.

Easily serviceable — Easy access to major components, color-coded wires, simplified electronics, and straightforward diagnostics enable simple, quick servicing of the truck. An advanced, multiplexed wiring system eliminates large wiring bundles, contributing to greater reliability and simple diagnostics. A new air manifold unit reduces the number of air lines in the cab.

Highly customizable — The Business Class M2 will be available in a range of configurations with a myriad of component and feature choices. The truck also features a clean back-of-cab, making it easy for bodybuilders to install equipment.

The first Business Class M2 off the production line — the 106-BBC configuration — will feature the 6.4-liter Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engine with ratings from 170 to 280 horsepower (up to 300 hp for fire and emergency services). Also available will be the 7.2-liter Caterpillar 3126 with ratings from 175 to 300 hp.

A variety of automatic, automated mechanical, and manual transmissions will be offered from Allison, Eaton-Fuller, and Mercedes-Benz. Initially, steering and drive axles will be supplied by ArvinMeritor. Mercedes-Benz axles will become available as options in 2003.

The first of the Business Class M2 trucks will be engineered with air brakes and MeritorWABCO antilock braking. Hydraulic brakes will follow as an option in January 2003.

Freightliner will begin taking orders for 106-inch BBC Business Class M2 models immediately. The Business Class M2 will be built at Freightliner's Mt Holly, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant, the site of current Business Class production.

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