Top Picks from the 2019 Work Truck Show

March 08, 2019 by Trucks.com, @trucksdotcom

By Alan Adler and Chad Kirchner

The 2019 Work Truck Show was more about gauging customer interest in electric trucks than stunning product introductions.

Freightliner offered walkarounds of the eM2 medium-duty that it is providing to Penske Truck Leasing to field test. Spartan Motors showed two Utilimaster electric models, each powered by a different supplier. Ford filled in its lineup of medium-duty trucks with the new F-600, while startup XL Fleet Electrification showed a plug-in hybrid F-250 Super Duty pickup. Navistar showed its badged versions of the medium-duty trucks it is making for General Motors.

Trucks.com walked the aisles of the massive Indiana Convention Center to pick the best offerings.

2020 FORD F-600

Ford F-600 Work Truck Show 2019

The Ford F-600 (Photo: Alan Adler/Trucks.com)

The Ford F-600 is an all-new addition to the brand’s chassis cab lineup. It’s the size of an F-550, or Class 5 truck, but with the capability of a Class 6 truck with a gross weight rating of 22,000 pounds. Its target is customers who want to downsize from a bigger truck without losing the capability to which they have become accustomed. The F-600 is available with an updated version of Ford’s Power Stroke diesel or the company’s new 7.3-liter big-block V-8. It’s available in either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and uses Ford’s new 10-speed automatic transmission. It will be built alongside Ford’s other medium-duty offerings in northeast Ohio.


Freightliner eM2 WTS 2019

The Freightliner eM2 (Photo: Alan Adler/Trucks.com)

Since series production does not begin until at least 2021, why did the Freightliner division of Daimler Trucks North America bring its eM2 medium-duty to the Work Truck Show? “Even though we’re talking about a couple years away, it’s important to communicate to the vocational fleets and manufacturers what our development approach is,” said Greg Treinen, Freightliner manager of alternative-fuel vehicles. The eM2 can travel 200 miles per charge and recharge to 80 percent in an hour. A Santa Claus in a green Santa suit delivered the first eM2 to Penske Truck Leasing last December. Plenty of folks crowded around the eM2 at the Work Truck Show.


Ford XLP F-2550

The Ford XLP F-250 (Photo: Alan Adler/Trucks.com)

XL Fleet Electrification got a jump on Ford’s own plans for electrifying the F-150 light-duty pickup when it delivered plug-in hybrid F-150s to several cities last year. At the Work Truck Show, XL made good on its February announcement of a plug-in hybrid F-250 Super Duty. The plug-in XLP F-250 will provide up to a 50 percent improvement in miles per gallon versus gasoline- or diesel-powered trucks, XL said. Greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to fall by 33 percent during normal operation based on results of F-150 tests conducted at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified testing facilities. Customer deliveries are planned to begin late this year.


Utilimaster walk-in van (Photo: Alan Adler/Trucks.com)

The Utilimaster unit of Spartan Motors Inc. revealed two electric chassis for medium-duty work trucks, including a collaboration with Motiv Power Systems on a Class 5 walk-in van. Utilimaster claims the van will have 85 percent lower operating costs and require 66 percent less maintenance over its life compared with a traditionally powered van. The chassis is powered by lithium-ion batteries and features automatic electronic braking and a 360-degree camera system with a 9-inch, high-definition in-dash display. Utilimaster also showed an electric chassis developed with Cummins Inc. for parcel delivery. It has an 85-mile range and 3,200-pound payload and recharges in less than six hours. The Utilimaster Reach is available for ordering.


navistar cv medium-duty truck

A Navistar CV medium-duty truck (Photo: Alan Adler/Trucks.com)

The Navistar International Corp. medium-duty trucks were the top pick of the 2018 Work Truck Show – as Chevrolet and GMC models. This year, Navistar showed its CV Series, beefier versions that fill a Class 4/5 hole in its lineup. Unlike Detroit automakers that reach up in weight class to offer medium-duty work trucks and chassis for upfitters, Navistar drops down from its heavy-duty models to the medium-duty classes. Navistar is not competing with GM directly. “For us, the main customers already buy our severe and heavy-duty trucks because they are used to our distribution network,” said Mark Stasell, Navistar vice president of vocational truck business. Customer deliveries are underway.

Read Next: 2019 Work Truck Show: Making Certification Easier for Upfitters

One Response

  1. Dan Deary

    Your article on the electric chassis for medium-duty work trucks is very interesting. Amazon is one of our customers and they are moving a lot of their fleet to the Utilimaster vans, replacing many of the sprinter type vans they currently use. I would guess the electric vans would be a big hit if they have enough range.


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