MOUNT HOLLY, N.C. – Five months ago, when Freightliner introduced the world to the next generation Business Class design of the M2, it was a forgone conclusion more models would soon hit the street from the ultra-customized, medium-duty truck builder.
In the showroom of the company’s Mount Holly, N.C. plant, chief operating officer Roger Nielsen and senior vice-president of sales and marketing Mark Lampert, made it official.
“Public and customer reception of the M2 has been good,” says Nielsen.
The company just finished a five-week road show that saw corporate brass visit dealers and their customers to review the M2.
“Everything we’ve heard confirms our belief that we got it right with this truck,” says Lampert. However, he adds, “Many need extra space.”
To this end, the company is set to start producing extended and crew cab models in the fourth quarter of 2002 for delivery in December and January of next year.
Designed for expediter and hot shot haulers, the extended cab features a 132-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) length, a full 26 in. longer than the original M2.
Optional tip out side windows offer enhanced ventilation and the whole package is Department of Transportation compliant as far as Hours-of-Service requirements are concerned.
If you’re looking to put a mobile work force in this rig, the keen truck builders at Mount Holly can drop the bunk and add two extra seats in the extended space. In applications like towing, specialty hauling, emergency rescue and ambulance service, this should quickly become a popular option.
In the case of the crew cab, it measures 154 in. BBC, with enough room to accommodate six safely if a front bench seat is spec’d.
Primarily aimed at fire and rescue folks, the front and rear doors of this lengthy machine have been redesigned to offer improved entry and exit. When you consider the bulky protective gear sported by firemen, you might say this feature could make the difference between life-and-death.
Both designs offer a standard MBE900 powerplant and can be optioned to include mid-range Cat power.
A second publicity tour, entitled Power Advantage, recently made stops in Toronto and Calgary to show off the advantages of the company’s captive Mercedes-Benz engines. Boasting tremendous fuel efficiency and high torque ratings, the MBE900 is gaining in popularity north and south of the 49th parallel.
With the lofty goal of increasing its NAFTA medium-duty marketshare from about 25 to 35 per cent, the company says it will continue to beat the bushes for every sale it can in its fight to unseat less-than-large-truck leader International.
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