Editorial: A Hard Day’s Work (Truck)

In fairly short order, truck manufacturers have made a series of announcements about new and updated vocational trucks that soon will be hitting the markets.

Looks like they’re expecting businesses soon will have some work to do.

Volvo Trucks is getting back into the heavy-haul business. Last week, it launched a revamped version of its entry in the segment, the VNX. Executives acknowledged at a media event introducing the truck that Volvo is often viewed as more of an over-the-road brand, but stressed that heavy-haul is a segment it believes in, and believes it should be in.

Volvo is not alone is spreading its wings.

With the reinvention of its over-the-road lineup well underway, Navistar is now turning its attention to the vocational segment; it launched the new International MV vocational model at a trade show last week, a truck that will replace the DuraStar in the International lineup.

Long a fixture in the medium-duty segment, Hino at that same trade show introduced its first Classes 7 and 8 models for the U.S. market, in both day cab and straight-frame variants. Combined, these trucks will open the company to new segments of the vocational and regional-haul segments. The company has even committed domestic resources to the endeavor, outfitting a factory in West Virginia to build the trucks.

Also stepping up into heavier weight classes is General Motors Co., which announced that it is returning to the Class 4–6 medium-duty segment it abandoned in the wake of its bankruptcy in 2009. Expanding its Silverado HD lineup that currently maxes out at Class 3, the new trucks puts GM back on even footing with its rivals from Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler, whose Ford and Ram brands, respectively, already have offerings in heavier classes.

All of these trucks are profiled in the March 19 issue of Transport Topics.

At the Volvo event, a company executive commented that economic conditions are coalescing to make now a good time to target the vocational segment. Based on the activity in this segment, they’re not alone.

As it relates to trucks, let’s hope some of them are purchased by road construction companies that soon will have some work fixing the nation’s infrastructure. The industry, and the country, are waiting patiently for the nation’s lawmakers to come up with the funding needed to get this work underway. Many agree that the work needs to be done, but when it comes to the money, there is always controversy.

There seems to be less controversy, but similar broad agreement, among truck-makers regarding work trucks. More of them will be available soon, which is an indication that OEMs see good times ahead.

As it relates to infrastructure and business more broadly, let’s hope they’re right.