ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Mack Trucks is returning to the medium-duty truck market with a new Class 6/7 lineup that will be assembled at a dedicated facility in Roanoke County, Virginia.
Known as the MD Series, the trucks begin serial production late this summer and are available for order today.
The new Roanoke Valley Operations location represents a US $13-million investment for the OEM, 250 new jobs, and an annual economic impact of $364 million for the region. It was supported by a $700,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund.
“This is an exciting day for Roanoke County,” said Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, before joining Mack Trucks executives and other government representatives to cut a ribbon to open the plant.
The project has been in the works for about two years but was a tightly guarded secret prior to the announcement.
Medium-duty truck market
“Mack Trucks is very proud to make this investment and to now offer a full lineup of Class 6 to Class 8 commercial vehicles, serving virtually every segment of the market,” said Mack president Martin Weissburg. “With this investment, Mack is well-positioned for future success.”
“The Class 6/7 market has been historically stable, 90,000 to 100,000 trucks a year in U.S. and Canada,” added Jonathan Randall, senior vice-president of North American sales and marketing. “We have a lot of customers already in our portfolio who already run medium-duty trucks, and they’ve been asking us for a single-source solution for quite a while.”
“Now we feel our family portrait is complete,” he said.
Mack hasn’t had a medium-duty offering since discontinuing the Freedom model in 2002. Earlier offerings in these weight classes included the MC Series and Midliner.
“This isn’t new to us in any shape or form,” Randall said of the business segment. “[But] the Freedom was a heavily Renault-based truck, and this is all a North American-based truck.”
The Mack MD
The Class 6 Mack MD6 has a GVWR of 25,995 lb., while its Class 7 MD7 counterpart has a GVWR of 33,000 lb. They’ll focus on applications including dry van, refrigerated, stake/flatbed, dump and tank trucks, and be available in 4×2 configurations.
The truck will be available in eight wheelbase lengths, supporting typical bodies that run from 10 to 26 feet. A 103-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement will help to load up the front axle and deliver a tight turning radius as well.
The Mack MD will come equipped with a Cummins B6.7 engine that can deliver 220-300 hp and 560-660 lb.-ft of torque, and Meritor front and rear axles. An Allison 2500HS six-speed automatic transmission will be standard, although an Allison 2500RDS is available for those who need a PTO.
“They started from a solid foundation for the chassis, for the cab, for the exterior, for the interior,” said Roy Horton, director – product strategy.
‘Strength is at the very core’
Base models will ride on a spring suspension, although a Mack Maxlite air suspension is optional. Wheels will come in a standard 22.5-inch size, but 19.5-inch wheels are also available.
“We’ve made the 120,000-psi steel frame rails standard,” Horton added, noting the industry standard is 80,000 psi. “Strength is at the very core of our image.”
The cab itself will ride on an air suspension rather than rubber blocks, and includes several features found elsewhere in the Mack product family. The grille and hood match the styling of the Mack Anthem, introduced in late 2017, while the cab is a variation on the Mack Granite.
Inside, drivers will find the same flat-bottom steering wheel used in the other trucks. Other features include power windows and door locks, cruise control, an air-ride driver’s seat, and optional two passenger bench seat with storage underneath.
Telematics support will come in the form of a Geotab Go Rugged system, offering access to the Mack Uptime Center, as well as OneCall and ASIST support.
The MD6 can be operated without a commercial driver’s licence when moving non-hazardous payloads.
Mack’s new home
The new Roanoke Valley Operations location was chosen to leverage several advantages.
“From a logistics standpoint, the proximity to global headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina was a significant piece,” said James Chenier, senior vice-president – strategy and business development. The facility itself also required few modifications.
“Proximity is important to us,” Randall said. “It fit our logistics really, really well.”
The cabs will also be painted at Volvo Trucks North America’s nearby New River Valley plant.
“This is a completely new platform, completely new product, and does not take anything out of LVO [Lehigh Valley Operations],” Randall stressed.
The newly announced jobs offset Mack’s recent decision to lay off 305 employees from the LVO plant in Pennsylvania because of a downturn in the heavy truck market. Laid-off employees will have a chance to apply for roles in the new location, he said.
“This is a great day for all Virginia,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball.
– This article was updated as new information became available.
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