The biggest medium-duty truck stories of 2021

The biggest medium-duty truck stories of 2021

What truck classification do you give Santa’s sleigh? Based on the weight of the world’s gifts alone, it’s tempting to hop straight to Class 8, but I think Santa’s got some magic elf nonsense that makes weight a non-issue. If we use application as a clue, he’s kind of on the longest last-mile route there is, moving goods from the North Pole warehouse workshop to their final destination. And with that, I’m guessing Mr. Claus’s whip falls somewhere in medium-duty trucking (sleighing) territory.

If you’re like Ol’ Saint Nick, running last-mile or vocational routes, chances are the medium-duty truck space is an important one. Versatility, maneuverability, efficiency… all of these terms make medium-duty mobility possible, and with the advancements we’ve seen this year, 2021 has been no exception. So, here are the biggest medium-duty headlines that drove your business forward this year.

Peterbilt’s new medium-duty models

Just months after Peterbilt unveiled its next-generation Peterbilt Model 579 Class 8 on-highway truck, the company gave us the new medium-duty Model 537 and Model 548, designed for the Class 7/8 segment; as well as the medium-duty Model 535 and Model 536, designed for the Class 5/6 non-CDL lease and rental markets. Each truck is updated with updated PACCAR PX engines.

Here are the details on the new trucks, as well as the company’s new PACCAR TX-8 automatic transmission and updated PACCAR PX engines:

International reimagines Class 6-7

In September, International Truck revealed its new International MV Series Class 6-7 vocational vehicles at the Utility Expo September 28-30. The OEM noted that the new MV Series was designed for increased maneuverability, visibility and safety. The trucks are supported through OnCommand Connection, Navistar’s remote diagnostics system. Customers have the option to receive real-time information to protect their assets through GPS and geofencing capabilities as well as actionable vehicle health reports.

Here’s what you need to know in case you missed the announcement:

Kenworth lines up a new medium-duty lineup

Kenworth also introduced a full lineup of new medium-duty conventional trucks ranging from Class 5 to light Class 8 in early April. The new models are the Kenworth T180 (Class 5), Kenworth T280 (Class 6), Kenworth T380 (Class 7) and Kenworth T480 (light Class 8), and they were designed to serve a variety of applications – we’re talking including cargo and reefer van, beverage, tow and recovery, utility and government, fuel oil and propane, landscaping… the list goes on.

Here’s the announcement with the full list of features:

The evolution of last-mile

Back in April, we caught up with Chad Heminover, president of The Shyft Group’s Fleet Vehicles and Services business unit, to see where the last-mile segment has grown. At the time, the answer was that last-mile delivery was booming. Has the growth of this segment changed since then? Nope.

But what has changed is the proliferation of electric vehicles in the last-mile space. Back in April 2021 we didn’t know what electric infrastructure changes would be coming down the pike, but now the muddy water is… well let’s be honest, it’s still pretty murky. But murky is clearer than muddy, right? I think so – you get the point. We’re getting there. And, since last-mile delivery trucks/vans typically drive on defined routes, this is a natural fit for the world of electric trucks.

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REE unveils new design of electric truck platform

The new P7-S uses P7 REEcorners, making it a full by-wire chassis, and is designed to allow design flexibility for fleets and body builders.


REE Automotive Ltd. revealed the next generation of its P7-S stripped chassis at ACT Expo in Las Vegas. The company says the Class 5 chassis was created in collaboration with a leading delivery fleet (which they did not name), and was designed to increase delivery efficiencies and improve fleet management. Customer delivery of the first next-gen P7-S demo will take place in June.

Penske Truck Leasing to offer REE Automotive’s P7-C electric trucks

REE’e electric trucks were developed in partnership with Wabash to be upfit ready.

Merchants Fleet hires new regional sales manager

Merchants Fleet is expanding its truck and van rental division to help North American clients who struggling with supply chain complexities.

Akebono releases 14 new severe-duty brake pads

The new kits are for vehicles from Ford, Ram, Chrysler, GMC and Nissan, which expands Akebono’s coverage by roughly 11 million vehicles.

Isuzu announces new battery EV medium-duty truck with Accelera powertrain

The companies are planning availability of the new Class 6/7 truck in 2026.


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BAE Systems, Eaton test electric commercial truck drive technology

Testing occurred at Eaton’s proving grounds in Marshall, Mich., on a Class 7 demonstration vehicle.

Kenworth offering PACCAR MX-13 CARB-compliant engine

The PACCAR MX-13 CARB-compliant engine will be available in the Kenworth T680, T880, and W990, with production slated for Q4 2024.

Newest Bendix Fusion technology now available in Kenworth T680s

Fusion with ACB Stop and Auto-Go is available on select Kenworth T680 powertrains with automated transmission.

PepsiCo picks Tesla, Ford for California EV fleet

PBNA ordered 50 Class 8 Tesla Semi trucks, 75 Ford E-Transit electric vans to more than triple size of its EV fleet.