"The driver shortage is a significant headwind for the trucking industry," notes Kenworth Marketing Director Kurt Swihart, and his company offers one potential remedy: get and keep good drivers with nice trucks.
Kenworth's ad campaign touting its products as "the driver's truck" has been getting some traction, Swihart says, and helping illustrate that, explains that the company's T680 on-highway and T880 vocational trucks launched in the last 3-4 years have won over customers from legacy models like the T660, T800 and W900. "Drivers are interested in driving these trucks," he contends, estimating that the T680 and T880 now account for as much as 90% of Kenworth truck sales.
The company continues to engineer comfort, reliability and technology into its trucks to appeal both to trucking companies and drivers, he adds. Giving an example, Swihart says drivers appreciate features such as an available swiveling table, swiveling passenger seat and other amenities.
With businesses looking for truck idle-reduction strategies, another feature Kenworth offers is battery-based auxiliary AC and heat for when trucks are parked. But that can create concerns for drivers and increases the chance that batteries could be drained and fail to start, so the company has available new automatic startup tech that can start and run the truck to replenish its batteries should their charge dip too low.
That same startup technology can be triggered at a certain temperature as well to warm up the truck and guard against diesel gelling, Swihart explains.
Given the choice
The company notes one customer's example as evidence Kenworth trucks are a driver favorite. As a reward, seven Walmart drivers who'd reached the rare milestone of 3 million safe miles were given the opportunity to pick out their next truck, and they all went with a Kenworth T680 76-in. sleeper "for its excellent driver comfort features, fuel-efficient operation and styling," according to company spokesman Jeff Parietti.
At a ride-and-drive event May 18 at Kenworth's Chillicothe, OH assembly plant, the company rolled out eight trucks — four T880s, three T680s and one medium-duty "Baby Class 8" T370 — to show off some of the latest options and features offered. How about it... would these Kenworths win you over?