LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Demand for construction trucks should remain steady in 2018, but they’ll represent a smaller percentage of the overall market due to strengthening demand for linehaul and regional trucks.
That was the assessment of Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of truck sales and marketing with Mack Trucks, when speaking at a press conference at World of Concrete.
The new Mack Granite interior.
“All economic indicators are pointing in the right direction,” Randall said, listing housing starts, construction, and commercial spending. “We believe construction is going to be a very strong segment again in 2018. As a percentage of the market, it’s probably going to drop, but in unit numbers it will be flat or grow a little bit.”
Mack is predicting the Class 8 retail market in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, to reach 260,000 units this year, up from about 235,000 in 2017, and it could be even better than that.
“This 260,000 has significant upward pressure on it,” Randall said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that number goes up even more in the not too distant future.”
Mack is starting production of its new truck line, including the highway Anthem model, on Jan. 29.
“All the tooling switches are happening in the plant this week, and Monday, everything that comes off the line will be new product,” said Randall.
That includes the Mack Granite with a new interior, which was showcased at World of Concrete. Tim Wrinkle, construction product manager, said the new interior is driver-focused to help fleets manage driver recruitment and retention.
“We interviewed thousands of drivers, got their feedback, listened, and put it into the design,” he explained.
Drivers will notice features such as a flat-bottom steering wheel, switches placed within easier reach, all-LED interior lighting, a larger storage pocket on the door, power locks and windows that come standard, and a vibrant full-color, five-inch driver information display. The seat comes with more than 30 features, and controls have been placed inboard so they’re easier to reach.
mDrive HD split-shaft PTO configuration.
The interior is available in Sierra Tan or Satin Aluminum color schemes, with standard and premium trim packages available.
Mack also announced its mDrive HD is now the most popular transmission spec’d on the Granite. It is being ordered on 49% of new Mack Granites, according to Roy Horton, director of product strategy. Mack begin offering the mDrive HD on the Granite just two years ago. Mack continues to offer a total of five transmissions in the model.
Announced for the first time at World of Concrete was an mDrive HD with split-shaft functionality.
“It gives the capability for customers requiring a split-shaft PTO to power their application,” Wrinkle said. A split-shaft PTO is mounted in the middle of the driveline and is popular on concrete pumpers, vacuum trucks, and in other applications requiring high-pressure liquid transfer. The new feature is standard on all new mDrive HD transmissions, but needs to be activated by a dealer or body builder.
Also new is a Mack Granite and Granite MHD configurator, which helps fleets and owner-operators determine the best spec’s for their applications.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies