Within medium-duty segments, cabover trucks, gasoline options and light-duty, customizable vans are making a big splash in the market.
“Isuzu is seeing a number of new customers moving to our low cab forward [LCF] design to better fit the different routes that customers have in tight confined areas,” said Brian Tabel, Isuzu’s executive director of marketing. “The idea of traditional trucks for all routes is moving to be something of the past as business owners recognize they can use the right truck for the right route with lowering their cost of ownership of the trucks they operate. With that in mind, distributors are moving to the Isuzu product to reduce the overall cost of ownership of the vehicles in their business.”
Visibility and maneuverability are at the top of the list for why cabovers are gaining ground. Jason Skoog, Kenworth’s assistant general manager for sales and marketing, explained that ease of serviceability is another big cabover selling point.
“We have continuously emphasized the 4 ft. of shorter overall length as it will allow truck operators to get more payload in smaller packages, thus potentially lessoning the loads needed to haul by some customers. Some major metro cities are also limiting overview length and the K270/K370 is a perfect solution,” he said.
The health of the medium-duty segment stems from a combination of older trucks being replaced and companies right-sizing their trucks, Tabel explained.
“Customers would buy the same truck for their whole business and today they are putting the right truck for the right job,” he said. “We see customers that drive 25,000 miles or less each year buying our gas N-Series. Another benefit of the gas engine is that it is CNG/LPG capable for customers that would like to run on alternative fuel.”
Speaking of expanded fuel options, Ford made big strides in Class 6 and 7 with the availability of gasoline engines. “These trucks were developed in response to customer requests for a highly capable medium-duty truck with an acquisition price that’s thousands of dollars less than a diesel engine,” said Mark Lowrey, Ford’s medium-duty truck marketing manager. “Our 6.8-liter V10 gasoline engine also can be factory-prepped for converting to compressed natural gas or liquid propane gas as cost-effective alternatives to unleaded gasoline or diesel.”
Ford’s medium-duty offering is strong in the landscape and construction markets, the automaker expects the beverage and urban trucking markets to hold huge opportunity for its F-650 and F-750 Tractor models which offer heavy towing capability and the flexibility to hook up to a trailer of variable size depending on the application and job at hand.
Let’s not forget that, arguably, the biggest impact Ford made in the past year was with the success of the Ford Transit and Transit Connect in the light-duty van segment, which celebrated record sales, selling 12,134 units in June 2015 and leading Ford to the company’s best first half van sales performance since 1988.