2019 Work Truck Show: New Electric, Diesel Trucks Center Stage

March 01, 2019 by Alan Adler, @AlanAdler

Dump trucks, cement trucks, utility trucks, car haulers – if there’s a big job to be done, chances are the vehicle for that task will be on display at the annual Work Truck Show that starts Tuesday in Indianapolis.

Although most of these vehicles will be powered by tried-and-true diesel engines, technology to handle alternative fuels such as liquid propane will be the pitch at many of the Work Truck Show displays.

Ford Motor Co. unveiled improvements to much its entire range of commercial vehicles. The automaker is the only company to produce a full line of trucks – from the light-duty F-150 pickup to a Class 7 heavy-duty vehicle. The company is in the early stages of a 13-month plan to refresh its entire vehicle lineup.

Its first move Tuesday was to show the 2020 Transit cargo van. The vehicle gets major upgrades that including two new engine choices, a 10-speed automatic transmission and safety features such as automatic emergency braking.

It then introduced the F-600 truck.  The new chassis cab truck slots just below Ford’s F-650 Class 6 truck and will offer much of the capability of the big truck packaged in a smaller, more maneuverable vehicle better suited for areas with congested traffic.

Finally, Ford said its F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks will get updates for the 2021 model year. They will have the 7.3-liter V-8 engine as standard, replacing the outgoing 10-cylinder unit. The new engine makes more power and torque than the V-10 while being less expensive to maintain.

Ford announced a new 2020 Super Duty pickup in January.

Not to be left behind, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram Truck division will debut commercial versions of its new 2019 heavy-duty pickups and chassis cab trucks, which were shown at consumer auto shows in Detroit and Chicago earlier this year.

UPS trucks battery-powered Thor

Carlton Rose, UPS president of global fleet maintenance and engineering, will be keynote speaker at the show’s Green Truck Summit. His company has a pilot program with startup Thor Trucks to test two battery-powered medium-duty delivery trucks in Los Angeles this year.

Electric Breakout

Many manufacturers are bringing battery-powered trucks as green vehicles edge closer to becoming mainstream choices.

“This can certainly be considered a breakout year for electric trucks,” said Duane Hughes, chief executive of the Workhorse Group, which will show a 450-cubic-foot version of its battery-powered NGEN-1000 electric delivery van.

Most of the battery-powered trucks displayed focus on pickup and delivery, where routes are repeatable, and nighttime charging at a central location is available.

Spartan Motors’ Utilimaster brand, in collaboration with electric truck startup Motiv Power Systems, will display a new walk-in van and an electric last-mile parcel-delivery platform in conjunction with Cummins Inc.

Daimler Trucks North America’s Freightliner brand will display its eM2 medium-duty electric truck at the show. It delivered the first of 10 of the trucks to Penske Truck Leasing in December.

“We are investing heavily in the development of practical and sustainable electric vehicles to support our customers and the environment,” said Kelly Gedert, director of product marketing.

Tougher standards

The rise of electric vehicles comes in response to toughened emissions regulations, especially in California, which aims to dramatically reduce tailpipe emissions in coming years.

GM had a huge presence at 2018’s Work Truck Show with its Navistar-built medium-duty trucks. The company has given no indication it will have a new product at this year’s show. (Photo: GM)

As the price of a kilowatt hour of electricity in a battery pack falls, electric-powered trucks become a viable choice for more businesses, Jim Castelaz, Motiv chief technology officer, told Trucks.com.

Two of the sessions at the Green Truck Summit at the Work Truck Show will focus on electrification. Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering for United Parcel Service, is the keynote speaker. UPS wants alternative-fuel vehicles to account for a quarter of its fleet by 2020.

It has ordered 950 electric trucks from Workhorse and has a pilot with startup Thor Trucks to test two battery-powered medium-duty delivery trucks in Los Angeles this year.

Diesel Domination

Diesel fuel still dominates commercial trucking because it is readily available and allows long- distance driving on a fill-up. Onboard emissions equipment that captures particulate emissions has made diesel trucking much cleaner in the last decade.

Most of the trucks at the Work Truck Show are diesel-powered, such as the International CV Series of medium-duty pickup trucks from Navistar International Corp.

Navistar builds the Chevrolet 4500HD/5500HD/6500HD series medium-duty trucks that debuted at the Work Truck Show last year. General Motors dropped out of the segment during the Great Recession.

The exteriors of Navistar’s versions of the trucks have International’s familial look while carrying over the interior of the Chevrolet Silverado medium-duty.

GM, which made a splash with the medium-duty trucks last year, was mum about having a new product to show this year.

Nissan will unveil the latest in a series of work trucks created as part of the purpose-driven Calling All Titans volunteerism campaign. The automaker has partnered with Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and the National Park Foundation since kicking off the program with a $1 million donation in September.

Other News

The Mack Truck division of Volvo Group will reveal updates to its Granite platform, the basis for cement trucks, off-road haulers and dump trucks.

Kenworth Truck Co., a unit of Paccar Inc., is bringing a half-dozen medium and heavy-duty work trucks, including a water tanker and a flatbed.

“It allows us to showcase trucks that can be customized to meet the requirements of our vocational customers,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director.

Paccar’s Peterbilt division will display Models 220 and 337 with van body configurations, a Model 337 mechanic truck, a Model 348 water truck and a Model 567 fuel-and-lube truck.

Western Star, the work truck division of Daimler Trucks, will display its 4900 and 4700 models, including a cab cutaway to show off interior enhancements.

Mitsubishi FUSO Truck of America, also owned by Daimler Trucks, will show a Class 5 medium-duty cabover model, expanding its gasoline-powered product range introduced in 2016.

Read Next: 2019 Chicago Auto Show: Ram Beefs Up Medium-Duty Chassis Cab

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