Just ask the more than 2,500 invited guests who witnessed the launch of International's new High Performance Trucks, it was an entrance that will echo through the industry for some time. The new line ...
Just ask the more than 2,500 invited guests who witnessed the launch of International’s new High Performance Trucks, it was an entrance that will echo through the industry for some time. The new line includes the 4000 Series, which is already rolling off the assembly line, and the 7000 and 8000 Series’, which enter full production in December and October respectively.
“We’ve traditionally been a bit of a gorilla in the medium-duty market,” says Steve Keate, president of International’s truck group. In Canada, the company’s dominance may even elevate it to King Kong status, considering its long-time success in the realm of market share.
Part of the show included a ride-and-drive for all who attended, followed by the opportunity for dealers to immediately place orders to stock their lots and for fleets to be among the first to purchase one of the much-ballyhooed units.
In fact, by 9:30 a.m. – less than two hours after the truck was officially available to the public – more than 1,000 of the High Performance Trucks were already sold to carriers from across North America. This included a more than healthy 131 units destined to dwell on Canadian soil.
According to John Bowen, manager of Canadian sales operations, the company is expecting great acceptance of the new medium-duties north of the 49th.
“This is a product that has practically been designed for the Canadian market,” he contends. “Canadian customers have always been willing to spend a little more to get added features. On these trucks the extra features, such as a chrome grille and a tilt wheel, are included.”
Bowen explains 80 per cent of Canada’s International dealers were represented in Las Vegas. Between them, they committed to 227 units; a whopping 155 per cent over pre-launch targets, making it the top performing region in North America.
Each dealer in turn invited a mixture of existing clients and prospective conquest accounts to the event.
Charlie Guthro, manager of fleet services for Ontario’s Hydro One and its nearly 5,000 vehicles, was one such customer invited to try the new truck line out for himself.
“I love the way it’s designed for the operator. It’s a lot like a car when it comes to accessibility,” he says in reference to the easy entry and egress due to low offset steps, wide door openings and grab handles positioned right inside the cab.
After driving the new 4300, Guthro explains he was extremely impressed with the handling and maneuverability as well as the ease of operation due to its International-exclusive automatic shift schedules.
While Hydro One has yet to buy High Performance Truck number one, Guthro says it’s only a matter time.
“We’re still putting the numbers together, but we’re talking about an order in the range of $13 million to $20 million,” he says calmly. “There’s certainly a lot of competition out there, but they’ve clearly pushed the bar a long way.”
Day-to-day operation isn’t the only area the new Internationals work to earn their moniker of High Performance Trucks. Overall repair times have been reduced by 20 per cent with easy access for level checks and repairing major components.
The hood, grille and headlights are simple modular repairs, as are the mirrors. Incidentally, the mirrors have also been designed in a breakaway fashion, minimizing the amount of bad luck a fleet will need to endure.
“Simply put, these International trucks are designed and built to perform on a higher level, and we don’t just mean vehicle performance,” says Keate.
“This truck helps businesses perform better financially, and helps drivers and service technicians perform more productively. In other words, it’s performance customers can take to the bank.” n