Work trucks shine at NTEA

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When I last attended the National Truck Equipment Association’s Work Truck Show, it was a well-done – if small – expo targeted at users of vocational trucks for use in P&D, municipal, utility, construction, towing and recovery, and other niche vocations.

What a difference a few years make. Last month’s show was far bigger than I remembered, and featured announcements from a host of major players. For example:

DaimlerChrysler rolled out its new Dodge Ram 4500 and 5500 chassis-cabs, the new Sprinter van and the light-duty Sterling chassis cab.

The Dodge Ram chassis-cabs feature flat, clean frame rails for mounting a wide variety of equipment and bodies. They’re powered by the Cummins 6.7-liter Turbo Diesel, with up to 305 hp and 610 lb-ft of torque, and come with a 6-speed auto-matic or manual transmission with power-take-off capability.

Built on the Ram chassis-cab platform is the new Sterling Bullet. It’s similarly equipped and intended for the same vocations as the Ram. With numerous options, the Bullet is offered as a regular cab in four wheelbases or as a quad cab in two wheelbases. It also features two- or four-wheel drive and optional snowplow and towing packages. It will be available late this year.

DCX also showed off the new Dodge/Freightliner Sprinter, with increased maximum width (two inches), interior height (11 inches), exterior height (13 inches), door opening height (5 inches), cargo area length (19 inches), vehicle length (30 inches), cargo volume (127 cubic feet) and towing capacity (2,500 pounds).

Three vehicle lengths (233, 273 and 289 inches) are featured on two new wheelbases – 144 inches or 170 inches. Also, three interior roof height options are available: standard (65 inches); high (76 inches); and new mega (84 inches).

Cargo capacity is up to 600 cubic feet, and payload capacity is up to 5,770 pounds. And three GVWRs include a new higher maximum of 11,030 pounds. Power comes from your choice of a new 3.0-liter V-6 diesel or 3.5-liter V-6 gas engine.

Ford also was on hand with its mach-looking, newly restyled and beefed-up E-Series van, with increased load-carrying capability and revised steering system and suspensions, front and rear.

Ford says that upfitters who convert E-Series cutaways for application-specific vocations will be pleased that no critical dimensions or fastener locations have been changed.

International announced that its 4000 Series trucks have been improved with ride-optimized air suspension and wider-track axles for greater roll stability and improved turning radius. The line has been renamed DuraStar, while the International 7000 Series now will be called WorkStar. International also showed off its hybrid involvement in cooperation with Eaton.

Finally, GM and Isuzu showed off the new N-Series low-cab-forward truck. Enhancements for 2008 are focused on increasing driver comfort, with a new cab-mounting system said to deliver a smoother ride. The cab itself is larger and more spacious, with more side-to-side and front-to-back room, providing more seat travel on both standard and crew-cab models. The N-Series will be sold under the Isuzu, Chevy and GMC nameplates.

Admittedly, this is just a brief glimpse. But if you’re into trucks that get the job done, and all the equipment that goes with them, I suggest you catch next year’s Work Truck show. Visit this site for more information – and leave yourself more than one day to see the show.