Nov 1, 2010 12:00 PM
Slagle bullish about North American truck demand in 2011
OPTIMISM was abundant during the Mack Trucks World Sales Conference October 26-28 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Mack officials made it clear that they believe the economy is improving and that the company is well positioned to get back on the growth track.
Truck fleets have begun buying again, and Class 8 truck sales should top 2009 numbers by 20%, according to Denny Slagle, president & chief executive officer of North American Trucks, the parent of Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks North America. Next year, heavy-duty truck sales across the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) region should top 200,000 units.
Having used the downturn of the last three years “to drain the swamp and get ready” for a recovery, Slagle said Mack was in the best position it's been in over the past 10 years. The truck manufacturer achieved a smooth transition to EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 2010 engine technology, consolidated manufacturing of its entire vocational and on-highway models at its Macungie, Pennsylvania, plant, and launched a number of new powertrain products, including a Mack automated mechanical transmission.
The 2010 engine lineup, in particular, brought Mack a big increase in orders in the last three months, Slagle said, with 3Q truck orders up 86% over the same quarter in 2009, and up over 40% compared to 2Q 2010.
“Mack is emerging from a very difficult economy, but the company never wavered on its commitment to the customers,” Slagle said. “Mack is building the best trucks and engines ever, and we are making all of our products in the United States, which is creating jobs for American workers.”
Slagle made his comments in the new 159,000-sq-ft Mack Customer Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The grand opening of the new center was one of the highlights of the Mack World Sales Conference.
The customer center occupies what used to be Mack's engineering development and test center, which was moved to Greensboro, North Carolina, as part of the company's restructuring effort. The customer center is the focal point of Mack's 65-acre property near Allentown's Queen City Airport.
The facility employs about 250 workers and includes a café, reception area, and a display of dozens of Mack trucks and components, such as engines and transmissions. Among other features are an 18,000-sq-ft modification center and a two-lane .73-mile oval track that will give customers the opportunity to test-driver their trucks. The track has multiple grades, on- and off-road durability courses, and a skid pad.
“The Mack Customer Center is an important new tool for the company,” said Mike Reardon, Mack vice-president of marketing. “It gives us a powerful way to immerse customers from North America and around the world in the products, history, and culture of the Mack brand.”
On display at the customer center during the World Sales Conference were many of the new products that Mack announced during the meeting. New products were detailed for conference attendees by David McKenna, Mack director of powertrain sales & marketing.
In addition to updates on the way Mack's ClearTech selective catalytic reduction system is performing, McKenna reviewed the Econodyne engine family that is optimized for fuel economy. Econodyne engines are available in one MP7 horsepower rating and three MB8 ratings. Tank fleets are among the vocational markets targeted for the Econodyne engines.
McKenna announced the launch of Mack's new mDrive 12-speed automated manual transmission that became available in the fourth quarter. Mack also updated its drive-axle carrier with the new C150 series that has gross combination weight capabilities up to 150,000 pounds. Soon to be rolled out: the C125/6 highway-optimized carriers that will be compatible with the mDrive transmission.
New sleeper and cab fairings are expected to improve aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. The roof fairings fit the 60- and 70-inch mid-rise sleepers and the 70-inch high-rise. Mack also added a 36-inch sleeper to the Granite truck model lineup.
A new natural gas power option was announced for the TerraPro cabover. While this truck is primarily targeted at refuse and construction markets, it appeals to some heating oil and propane distributors operating in congested urban areas.
The natural gas-powered TerraPro comes with a Cummins Westport nine-liter ISL G engine rated at 320 horsepower. It can use compressed or liquefied natural gas.
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