Mack enhances highway tractor line-up

May 1, 2004
A NEW 60-inch mid-rise sleeper was introduced by Mack Trucks Inc for CH and Vision models a move company officials say reinforces Mack's commitment to

A NEW 60-inch mid-rise sleeper was introduced by Mack Trucks Inc for CH and Vision models — a move company officials say reinforces Mack's commitment to leadership in the highway tractor business, particularly the local and regional haul segment. The new sleeper was rolled out during the Mid-America Trucking Show March 25-27 in Louisville, Kentucky.

The new 60-inch mid-rise sleeper is designed to meet the needs of customers looking for more interior space than flat-top designs offer without the added cost and weight of larger sleepers. The new sleeper joins a product line-up that includes daycab configurations and 70-inch mid-rise and 48- and 56-inch flattops.

Tom Davis, Mack marketing manager for highway products, said that the addition of the new sleeper increases the flexibility of the company's highway product offering, particularly in the local and regional distribution sectors.

“The local and regional haul segment of the heavy-duty truck marketplace is very diverse in terms of factors such as the length of hauling runs, the types of materials transported, and regional differences in terrain and climate,” he said. “Factor in external issues, such as the new hours of service rules that call for additional rest time, and it's clear that our customers need the flexibility we now provide with the expanded lineup.”

To further enhance its highway offerings, Mack is also adding 12,000- and 14,300-lb versions to its family of UniMax front axles. The new axles join three others- 18,000 pounds, 20,000 pounds, and a recently introduced 23,000 pounds version — already in use for vocational and heavy-haul applications. Like all UniMax axles, the new 12,000- and 14,300-lb versions weigh less than comparable industry front axles and feature unitized wheel hubs that are permanently sealed with synthetic grease, virtually eliminating maintenance costs.

“What really sets the UniMax axle apart is the design of its front wheel bearing arrangements,” said David McKenna, Mack marketing manager for engines, axles and transmissions. “We believe they are the most robust arrangements in the industry. Couple this with dramatically lower maintenance costs and significant weight-savings and you've got a product that can really make a difference in a customer's bottom line.”

Tom Kelly, Mack vice president of marketing, adds the following: “The fact that we're introducing a new sleeper and expanding our UniMax line-up sends a strong message about Mack's commitment to the highway business. With the addition of the 60-inch mid-rise, we now have a complete range of products for local and regional haul applications. And we will continue to work very closely with our customers to ensure that we always provide the best possible products for their operations.”

Company leaders also expressed optimism about the coming year. “2003 was a challenging year for Mack as well as the entire truck industry,” said Paul Vikner, Mack president and CEO. “But that's behind us now. Our order intake in the last quarter of ‘03 and into this year has been strong. There seems to be growing optimism about the economy. Customers who have been delaying capital equipment purchases are starting to buy trucks again. And we're seeing other customers who, for various reasons, purchased trucks from other manufacturers coming back to Mack.”

Vikner estimated that the industry will build approximately 200,000 Class 8 trucks for the North American market in 2004. Mack is raising its own production schedules to keep pace with customer demand.

Vikner also commented on 2007 engines, saying that Mack would begin placing prototypes with fleets sometime in 2005. “We want to have these engines available far enough ahead of the 2007 deadline to avoid the sort of pre-buying we saw before the 2002 engine deadline,” he said. “The federal government could help with incentives, and we would support any effort to help take the bite out of the cost of the transition to the new engines. Currently, there is no incentive for early adoption of the 2007 engines.”

Mack will use the exhaust-gas-recirculation (EGR) system with a diesel particulate filter in its proprietary engines. “We've all made significant progress with EGR,” he said.

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