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Photo Sean KilcarrAmerican Trucker
<p>Photo: Sean Kilcarr/American Trucker</p>

Better days for long-haul ahead, says Mack

OEM also displays six of its new Anthem model highway tractors at the NACV show.

ATLANTA. Hot on the heels of the unveiling of its new axle back Class 8 tractor, the Anthem, Mack Trucks is predicting a sales uptick in the long-haul market to stretch out for the next two years.

The OEM said during a press conference here at the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) show that it’s raising its forecast for 2017 Class 8 sales to 225,000 units as more truck buying occurs among smaller and medium-sized fleets.

“Orders are coming in and we’re quoting on a lot of business where we were previously not a strong consideration,” noted Jonathan Randall, senior vice president of sales for Mack Trucks. “It’s really the entire [fleet] segment, small to large, that’s returning to buy, though we are now seeing a lot more participation from small and medium-sized fleets.”

He explained that the long-haul segment is expected to rebound from this influx of buying activity. Typically, Randall said the long-haul segment makes up 48% to 50% of overall commercial truck sales, but year-to-date that’s dropped to 41%.

“The [truck sales] growth of late has been in construction, regional haul, and some ‘micro-segments’ like refuse,” he noted. “But now we see long-haul returning to its rightful place in terms of sales share over the next couple of years.”

Randall added that Mack’s share of the commercial sales market is “up a percentage” point in the U.S. and now sits at 8.6% for the U.S. and Canada year-to-date. He said Mack did experience some “slippage” in Canadian market share at the beginning of this year but expects that to return to 2016 levels by the end of 2017. “We’ve got a strong backlog of orders,” Randall pointed out.

In order to handle a long-expected higher volume of truck orders, Mack has been investing in its production capacity over the last five years, according to John Walsh, vice president of global marketing.

He said the OEM has invested $40 million since 2012 in mDrive automated manual transmission (AMT) and axle production, along with training investments.

Roy Horton, Mack’s director of product strategy, added that the mDrive is now being spec’d in 88% of Mack’s on-highway truck orders.

Walsh went on to note that the OEM also has invested $84 million in its Lehigh Valley Operations in Pennsylvania since 2014, which includes new processes and tooling for its assembly plant.

“We’re confident we can meet market demand,” Randall added. “Our investments will allow us to do that through one plant.”

A few other items highlighted during Mack’s press conference included:

  • Mack’s dealers have invested over $600 million in their facilities since 2010, expanding service bay capacity by 53%, their truck technician workforce by 91%, and overall “rooftop” locations by 7% over that time period.
  • Mack’s new Anthem tractor is a replacement for the Pinnacle axle-back highway tractor; the Pinnacle axle-forward model remains as it is popular in the heavy haul, oil field, and other vocational markets, noted Randall.
  • Mack continues to analyze truck market demand, especially when it comes to growth in the last-mile logistics sector. “We look at that in terms of demand for daycabs with a single axle,” he said. “We don’t have a Class 6-7 truck but we’re always looking at that.”
  • Autonomous truck technology is something Mack will approach if there is “market value” to it, Randall pointed out: “If it has viability, we’ll certainly bring it to market.”

Mack also announced that Bendix Wingman Fusion, a camera- and radar-based driver assistance solution, comes standard on all of its new Anthem models: a system that provides collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.

The OEM showcased six Anthem models at the NACV show, including a day cab, 48-in. flat top sleeper and 70-in. “stand-up” sleeper models. Also on display were Granite and Pinnacle models, which have also been updated with new ergonomic interiors for all-day comfort, with the Pinnacle also gaining the new sleeper configurations being introduced with the new Anthem.

All eight Mack models on display also come standard with GuardDog Connect, a telematics package, and the company’s ClearTech One “single-box” exhaust aftertreatment unit that combines the diesel particulate filter (DPF) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system into one package.

TAGS: News
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