Medium-duty truck trends can be hard to pin down. After all, these trucks tackle a vast array of applications–from local pick-up and delivery vans running around every neighborhood across the country to municipal fleet trucks servicing utility lines. Think about it: Manufacturers build naked chassis just so that bodybuilders can dress it up with the equipment that the application demands. Yet, look close enough and equipment commonalities bubble to the surface. Here are a few stand-out headlines from the year in medium-duty news.
New year, new trucks
Before we get into the EV headlines that dominated most of the medium-duty world this year, let’s not forget that 2022 also saw the launch of the Freightliner M2 and SD Plus Series.
The new lineup showed a refreshed focus on vocational applications from Freightliner. Refreshed, driver-centric interiors on the inside and packed to the grills with Detroit Assurance advanced driver assistance systems on the outside, the Plus Series also offers the QuickFit Electrical System features a new multiplexed architecture that provides easier access to critical connection points, more power sources, programmable switches, customizable parameters, and interlock features, making upfits more flexible, more reliable, and more durable, Freightliner noted. Check out the story above for all of the product details.
Medium-duty electrification goes big
Short routes under 200 to 150 miles. Return-to-home operations. Stop-and-go traffic that can take advantage of regen braking. It all seems to add up to medium-duty applications, yet the most commercial EV action we’ve seen so far has been in the Class 7 to 8 electric truck realm. So what’s the hold up?
First is the aforementioned variety of applications and second is making sure EVs can handle the applications and both fleet customer and truck equipment manufacturer upfitting needs. All reports indicate, that the time is nearly right for a flood of EVs into the medium-duty market. Here’s one such report:
This year, the floodgates of medium-duty EV announcements opened wide.
The Shyft Group debuted its Blue Arc EV solutions that will introduce a Class 3 delivery walk-in van alongside an EV chassis and portable charging station dubbed the “Power Cube.” The chassis’ modular design will accommodate multiple weight ratings and classifications, based on build-out and usage. The lithium-ion battery packs provide an approximate range of 150 to 175 miles with the opportunity to enhance range through expanded battery options.
“Powered by Cummins” takes on a whole new meaning when there’s no engine. The battery electric truck is powered by an electric powertrain developed and deployed by the company that’s best known for its red engines and speaks to the engineering direction that Cummins is taking. I even had a chance to get behind the wheel of the Cummins PowerDrive6000–click to check out the video.
International has trotted out the eMV several times this year, but the earlier announcement that it was delivering the truck to Penske to put it through its paces caught our attention. Clearly, there are few fleets better than kicking the tires on new truck technology than Penske. International also took us on a tour of its new San Antonio manufacturing plant where the eMV will be built and walked us through the charging infrastructure it installed at a Michigan dealership to support its rollout. (The first public commercial charging location in the state, no less.)
Yard trucks are one segment where electrification is already rolling large. It makes sense: they shuttle equipment around a planned route, always within coasting distance of a charger. It’s a low-risk way to get into the electric truck game and start reducing emissions.
EV lightning strikes
Ford is banking big on the F-150 Lightning, and we were able to get our hands on it and take it for a drive:
It caught the attention of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), an electricity provider serving northern and central California, which plans to add F-150 Lightning Pro trucks and Ford Pro Charging solutions to its lineup.
The F-150 Lightning wasn’t the only Ford model to go electric. The Transit also got into the battery-powered game with the E-Transit, which Penske plunked down an order for 750 all-electric Ford E-Transit cargo vans, which offers a range of approximately 120 miles.