Mack Trucks‘ new MD Series of medium-duty units are new for 2020, but the Class 6 and 7 market is far from unchartered waters for the company.
Mack exited the medium-duty segment in the early 2000s shortly after the debut of the Mack Freedom – more reborn Renault than Born Ready Mack. The Freedom concluded Mack’s 20-plus year run with its medium-duty Mid-Liner, and shelving the model in 2003 put Mack all-in on Class 8.
Seventeen years later, a shortening length of haul and the endless quest for qualified drivers has pulled Mack back into the medium-duty pool, and they’re jumping in with both feet.
Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president of North American sales and marketing, said the company’s dealer network has been pushing for a return to medium duty for years, and market stabilization and growth in the segment created a perfect storm of opportunity.
“It’s traditionally a pretty steady 90,000 to 100,000 trucks in the U.S. and Canada,” he said, noting annual medium-duty sales seldom swing as wildly as Class 8.
Reentry into the segment targets a customer base that includes dry van and refrigerated segments, and stake/flatbed, dump and tank truck vocations – segments that aren’t necessarily into trucking.
“These are P&D folks. These are private fleets. These are people whose core business isn’t necessarily trucking,” he said. “They use trucks to move things, but they’re not trucking companies by trade.”
Many of its traditional long-haul customers also use lighter duty vehicles to supplement their business and getting back into medium duty, Randall says, enables Mack to become a single-source solution provider for all its customers.
The Class 7 MD7 model has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 33,000 pounds. The Class 6 MD6 has a GVWR of 25,995 pounds and targets a huge slice of the medium-duty truck population. The heaviest truck you can legally drive without a commercial driver license, Class 6 trucks make up about 75% of all medium-duty truck sales, Randall said.
Both the MD6 and MD7 are exempt from the Federal Excise Tax (FET), shaving 12% off the cost of acquisition.
The MD is Mack’s first all-new truck model since the 2017 debut of Anthem. It’s also one of very few bulldogs to offer a non-Mack powertrain. Both MD models are equipped with an inline six cylinder Cummins B6.7 engine, making up to 300 hp and 660 lb.-ft torque.
The B6.7 is the most popular diesel engine ever built by Cummins. Cummins’ B Series has been on the market for nearly 40 years in various iterations. As of last year, the now-EGR-free B6.7 got a 5% power boost and 31% more peak torque than prior EGR-equipped models.
The engine is matched with an Allison 2500HS transmission and Meritor axles. An Allison 2500RDS is available for applications needing a PTO.
Base models get a spring suspension but Mack’s Maxlite air suspension is available. The wheels are a standard 22.5-inches but 19.5-inch wheels are available.
The trucks’ chassis are durable, yet lightweight (7mm thickness for the MD6 and 8mm thickness for the MD7) and are constructed to an industry standard 34-inch frame width using 120,000 psi steel rails – quite the bump from an industry standard of 80,000 psi.
The MD features an industry-best 103-inch BBC, clear back of cab for ease of upfits and a standard rear window. The cab is also air-suspended, a feature that Mack’s Director of Product Strategy Roy Horton said improves driver comfort and vehicle durability.
Reduced step-up height improves ergonomics. Multiple grab handles and a short hood for better downward visibility increases safety.
The grille and many of the body cues are shared with Mack’s Anthem model, and there are plenty of other hints of Mack’s on-highway products inside. A wrap-around dash with ergonomic controls; a tilt telescopic steering column with flat-bottomed steering wheel; power windows and door locks; cruise control and a driver air-ride seat are all regular long-haul driver comforts found in the MD Model.
Horton said the use of so many interior elements from its long-haul truck, including door panels, give the MD models an unexpected side benefit “of a very quiet cab.”
An optional two-passenger bench seat allows fleets to deploy crews of three and a flip-up bottom grants access to a large bin for storage.
“It’s a very simple design but it’s something that the customers in the medium-duty market see a ton of value in,” Horton said. “Just having a place they can put items out of the way and won’t be rolling around all over the floor.”
The MD is available in a 4×2 configuration, and eight wheelbase lengths will support typical bodies from 10 to 26 feet.
Uptime support is provided through Geotab’s Go Rugged solution with access through Mack’s Uptime Center, Mack OneCall and ASIST.
The MD Model will be built in Mack’s new 280,000 square foot Virginia facility, Roanoke Valley Operations, with production slated for July. The units are already available for order.