Freightliner ‘recommits’ to vocational trucks with new Severe Duty models

Updated Mar 23, 2011

Freightliner has a singular message at this year’s ConExpo Construction Show in Las Vegas, Nev.: It is recommitting to the North American vocational truck market in a big way. And to back up its words, Freightliner has released a new family of work trucks, called, appropriately enough, the Severe Duty (SD) line, aimed directly at North American Class 7 and 8 vocational markets.

Sterling was supposed to be Daimler Trucks North America’s vocational truck line, with Freightliner concentrating on long-haul applications. And while this strategy worked for a while, David Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy for Freightliner, admits now that it gave the impression that vocational trucks were a secondary concern for Freightliner. “That was never true,” Hames says. “Freightliner has always taken vocational markets seriously. But simply getting the chassis required to fill vocational orders was always a problem due to our popularity in long-haul markets. And the Sterling acquistion (from Ford) was intended to address that issue.”

Hames says increasing costs and the looming U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions regulations forced DTNA to pull the plug on Sterling in 2010. But now, the Freightliner SD will pick up where Sterling left off. The trucks feature bold and aggressive new styling designed to help differentiate the vocational line in the minds of customers from the company’s long-haul product offerings.

But Freightliner engineers did not simply give their existing trucks a facelift. Realizing full well the rigors that North American vocational trucks face day in and day out led Freightliner to invest in serious frame, suspension, PTO and axle upgrades to ensure productivity and efficiency on jobsites and in severe off-highway working conditions. These enhancements have been coupled with a renewed dedication to optimize body installation procedures, spearheaded by developing extremely close engineering relationships with leading body installers across the country to make sure that no aspect of the installation process is overlooked.

“Our overall goal was to provide body builders with the tools they need and to assist fully with that process,” says T.J. Reed, director of product marketing. “We want to help find and develop optimal solutions for body packaging – even on tough installations like street sweepers. So we’re collaborating and communicating fully with those installers to make sure we’re giving our customers the high-quality purpose-built machines they need to get their work done day in and day out.”

The new Freightliner SD series will consist of both 108- and 114-inch BBC configurations – both with set-back axle positions – as well as a Coronado SD version for extreme heavy-hauls and severe off-road applications. The 108SD features a 42-inch set-back axle with ratings from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds and single and tandem rear axle options from 21,000 to 46,000 pounds. Power options include a standard Detroit Diesel DD13 or Cummins ISB and ISC diesel engines.

The Freightliner 114SD vocational truck features a set-forward axle with a standard 31-inch position or an optional 29.5 bridge formula configuration, and a set-back 48-inch setting for enhanced manuverability. Front axle ratings are available up to 23,000 pounds, and heavy rear axle configurations for single axles are available up to 38,000 pounds. Tandem rear axle ratings range up to 58,000 pounds, and tridem ratings are up to 69,000 pounds.

All three Freightliner SD models feature available hood access panels to ease daily maintenance checks with front-end equipment (such as snowplows) installed. Other enhancements include easy-service headlamps, a new single-channel 12-inch frame rail package and Freightliner’s aluminum cab.