Building the perfect work truck

Building the perfect work truck

Building the best truck for the job begins with knowing all the options. We asked the experts to tell us what fleets need to know to get the most of their buying decisions.


Building the best truck for the job begins with knowing all the options. We asked the experts to tell us what fleets need to know to get the most of their buying decisions.

Choice insights

Ryder offers a number of brands of medium-duty trucks and bodies. Based on its diverse fleet and the number of customer applications, customers could find more than 50 different brands of bodies from which to choose, but the vast majority of those bodies are produced by Morgan, Supreme, Kidron, Multivans, Johnson, Utilimaster, Durabody and Collins.

Scott Perry, vice president of supply management and global fuel products for Ryder says, “The main considerations when spec’ing medium-duty bodies is the intended use/application and what content goes into the body is highly dependent upon how the customer intends to use the body.” Here is a list of examples:

  • Is a ramp or lift-gate required?
  • What type of product is being transported?
  • How is it loaded/off-loaded?
  • How valuable is the cargo and how susceptible to damage is it?
  • What cargo constraints are required?
  • How much and what type of lighting?
  • How many deliveries per day are being made and are they all from the rear of the vehicle, or are portions made from the curbside?
  • If the body is specialized, does the fleet plan to transfer it onto a new chassis later in life (a double life)? If so, what type of body components and finishes will give the longest possible life?
  • Can body materials be recycled (aluminum) or one that can’t be easily disposed of (such as FRP)?

“With the volume of vehicles we purchase and deliver, it makes sense to have relationships with all of the major providers in order to have access to production capacity, product support and new product development on a large scale,” Perry notes. “We generally strive to have as much of our component installations performed by the body companies—lift-gates, refrigeration, back-up cameras, etc.—and minimize the use of external upfitters as much as is possible.

“Leveraging relationships with our outfitters is done within a relationship where our specifications are fully understood and finished products are inspected by both their internal quality control groups and our own internal supply management and quality teams,” Perry continues. “Our experience in those instances has been good.”

JRTB refrigerated bodies

JRTB refrigerated bodies
JRTB refrigerated bodies

According to Mayo Rude, vice president of sales and marketing at Johnson Refrigerated Truck Body (JRTB), “While every DSD or distribution operations person is going to have a history of experience delivering their product(s), JRTB specializes in drawing from a myriad of business models to assist in assessing ones business. It is a custom body manufacturer that now has an aluminum sheet and post line for more standard requirements that completes the offering.

“In addition, our sales force is trained in listen and find the best solution for the end user by reviewing current practices, performing ride-along(s) and customizing designs to best fit the operation,” Rude adds.

Johnson offers a full-insulated product line, latest developments in refrigeration technology, and style of consultive selling, which meshes to bring the customer the best in industry value. Also, operational analyses allow us to help fleets determine which options are best fit for their applications.”


When it comes to spec’ing truck chassis for work trucks, versatility, flexibility and durability are key. According to Mary Aufdemberg, director of product marketing Freightliner, the Freightliner M2 106 is the truck of choice for a variety of applications, from pickup and delivery to utility and fire trucks. Its power, versatility and durability are an unmatched combination.

“We continue to improve the M2 106 by making it easier for customers to spec exactly what they need and by lowering the real cost of ownership through an emphasis on quality, upfit, support, productivity and safety for all vocational options,” Aufdemberg says. “This helps us spec vehicles that ultimately provide the most overall added value. It is available in a wide range of configurations to ensure that it is spec’d properly direct from the factory.”


She goes on to say that the M2 106 fits perfectly within the Class 6/7 market; its more specific product options make it an ideal work truck for any vocational application. The wide range of chassis component configurations—exhaust, after treatment, fuel tanks, batteries, air tanks—ensure compatibility with any type of body install. The advanced SmartPlex multiplex electrical architecture available on the M2 simplifies and better integrates complex body and truck electronics. For those with simpler body electronics, a wide variety of constant-power switches and electrical interface connectors are available. The range of exterior appearance and interior comfort/convenience features give customers many choices.

“The more we know about our customers and how they use their vehicles, the better we can suggest the specs and features that will give them maximum value,” Aufdemberg says. “That’s why we recommend customers come prepared to give an in-depth overview of their operation, along with any information that would affect the spec’ing of their vehicle. Once our understanding is complete, our dealers and corporate sales representatives make suggestions on spec’ing options that will ease up-fit and increase overall durability of the vehicle. While all medium-duty customers are interested in upfit, safety, support, quality and productivity, our dealers understand that each customer places a different value on those attributes and that every application is different.”



Hino Trucks has a number of options for each model and they come standard Allison transmissions, but almost every model has different Allison transmission model options. The combinations of features and options are seemingly endless, which is why it is so vital for a customer to establish a relationship with a salesperson that will take the time to understand their needs.

According to, Adrian Ratza, marketing manager at Hino,the key for the dealer salespersons in determining the right truck and options is to be great listeners who need to determine:

  • What is the customers’ carrying and the total weigh to determine vehicle GVW needs?
  • What will be the operating environment (city, local, regional delivery) to determine if a conventional product or a cab-over product is the best choice?
  • Is PTO capability is needed, since this will help determine the type of needed?
  • Will the truck operates in elevations that will require a different HP and torque rating than trucks operating in flat areas?
  • Will trucks operate in colder climates with risk for snow and ice to determine if will have different options (heated mirrors, differential lock, tires) are needed?
  • Are there regulatory restrictions such as such as an air brake systems, which require certification to use in certain states?

Another key consideration is, how happy are they the body configuration of their current fleet, and might there be better options? Assessing the effectiveness of the current fleet can give the salesperson insight into how to best assist the customer with fleet optimization on future purchases.

“The buyer needs to be aware of the engine warranty, as it is the most vital part of the vehicle with the most complex parts which can lead to the most costly repairs,” Ratza says. “Buyers need to be aware of the standard engine warranty and determine if they are comfortable with that amount of protection. If the buyer wants more protection, they can often purchase an extended warranty. Hino Trucks offers a five year, 250,000 mile engine warranty on its J08 series engine. With today’s technology, dealers are better able to control parts inventory leading to better availability and less downtime for the customer.”

International Navistar

International DuraStar

“Having a leading drivetrain and vehicle configuration is important,” states Carl Webb, product line executive for medium duty International Trucks, “but those are only a few parts of the uptime and performance equation. DuraStar can also drive efficiency with the Diamond Logic electrical system, which provides time saving features such as engine idle-time out, single touch pre-trip inspection, and safety reminders. Finally, with onboard diagnostics, International customers can rely on the largest dealer network to prevent downtime by understanding the complexities of vehicle technology, and providing the right solutions, including OnCommand’s suite of services.”

Updates in 2016 will include expanding DuraStar with ISB 6.7 availability to low profile cabs, crew cabs and beverage tractors. Additional updates to Diamond Logic and On Command Connection will be rolled out in 2015, keeping the DuraStar delivering on Uptime for its customers. With the right combination of state-of-the-art electronics, durability of its powertrain and fuel-efficient engine options, you have a truck that will last past quitting time. The Durastar is known by body and equipment manufacturers for seamless electronics integration, which means uptime for the body manufacturer and savings for the customer, Webb notes. For work truck applications, equipment manufacturers can join body electronics up to the body control module and order integrated remote power modules that match technologically advanced body designs.



Kenworth’s medium-duty product line includes the T270 and T370 conventional models. To further enhance those models, Kenworth has added options such as factory-installed front drive axles, rear air suspensions and aerodynamic fairings for tractors. Plus, Kenworth offers Bendix front and rear air disc brakes and an optional front frame assembly for customer-installed winch bumpers for the T370. “These different options help fleets lower lifecycle costs, enhance fuel economy and cover a wider range of applications,” says Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director.

Other work truck options are the new K270 and K370 cabovers, which are in full production. “Kenworth’s new cabovers feature extensive exterior and interior enhancements and are generating excitement from truck operators as Kenworth brings a new level of excellence of quality, innovation and comfort to the medium duty market,” Swihart says.

He goes on to note that the Kenworth cabovers are ideal for city and neighborhood operations, where tight turning and a shorter overall length are required. Applications include pick-up-and-delivery, food and beverage, furniture hauling, landscape businesses, and street sweeping and striping.

Kenworth’s complete line of medium-duty trucks can be spec’d with the 6.7-liter Paccar PX-7 engine. The conventional models can also be spec’d with the 8.9-liter PACCAR PX-9. In addition, its medium-duty trucks have a basic vehicle warranty coverage of one full year with unlimited mileage. Extended warranties are also available.

Mitsubishi Fuso

According to Larry Smith, MFTA director of fleet operations, “All Mitsubishi Fuso Canter medium-duty cabovers have been designed to provide low cost-of-ownership through better fuel economy, higher body/payload capacities and longer service intervals than competitive trucks. Together, all of these contribute to a fleet’s efficiency of operation by saving time, money and hassle.”

Fuso dealers include truck specialists who, working with technical support at MFTA, can work with fleet customers to determine the optimum body styles, load centers, maximum cargo weights, appropriate wheelbase and body lengths for a given application.

Mitsubishi Fuso offers a three-tiered warranty: Three-year bumper to bumper/unlimited mileage; Four-year/unlimited mileage rust-through; and Five-year/175,000-mile powertrain limited warranty that includes the alternator, turbo, starter motor, water pump, exhaust and intake manifolds and injectors, as well as related lines.




For the U.S. market, Sprinter offers five different models: A Sprinter cargo; passenger; cab-chassis; crew and mini bus. According to Michael Minielly Mercedes-Benz USA, “With a combination of five models, three GVWRs, three body lengths and three roof heights, as well as two wheelbases and two highly fuel efficient diesel engines, there are endless different variants to allow customers to find a Sprinter that can meet virtually any business need.”

He goes on to say that a key focus in developing the next generation Sprinter was comfort, advanced safety and a whole range of new assistance systems. This includes segment-exclusive Load Adaptive ESP and new sophisticated assistance systems to help avoid accidents. New available features that premiered are Collision Prevention Assist, Blind Spot Assist, Highbeam Assist and Lane Keeping Assist.

Minielly notes, “The Sprinter offers a ground-breaking assistance system Crosswind Assist, which is standard on all 2500 models. At highway speeds, Crosswind Assist helps compensate for the effects of gusts of wind on the vehicle, within the bounds of physical possibilities. The need for counter-steering in response to sudden gusts is markedly reduced, relieving the strain on the driver and helping them remain on course in the event of sudden crosswind.”

The new 4×4 version of the Sprinter Van is available in 144- and 170-in. wheelbases with low and high roof configurations, and available body styles for the U.S.

Sprinter works with body builders to meet customer expectations. Minielly says, “Special bodies and interior equipment from selected and certified system partners are available as part of the Sprinter Preferred Upfitter Program.

“There are currently over 80 approved upfitters in the program,” he continues. “To become a Preferred Upfitter, several Sprinter engineering specialists review each upfitter’s plans, visit their facility while work is in progress and inspect finished vans. Approved upfitters get advance product information and exclusive access to certain options. Each upfitter also receives special programming of the electronics system that is tailored to the customer’s need and vehicle functionality.”



According to Wesley Slavin, Peterbilt marketing manager—medium duty products, “Peterbilt’s medium-duty customers span a wide range of business and application requirements—it’s as varied, if not more so, as the heavy-duty markets. We’ve developed our medium-duty product lineup to be as comprehensive as possible to fully serve all of the different preferences and segments. Peterbilt manufactures medium-duty trucks and tractors, conventionals and cabovers, CDL and non-CDL configurations and ratings from Class 5 through 7. Within that range of models there are hundreds of different options from transmissions and suspensions to fuel tank size and brand of tires.”

Peterbilt’s lightest-duty vehicle is the Model 325 truck, a Class 5, non-CDL configuration with hydraulic ABS brakes. The Model 330 is available with air or hydraulic brakes and with a spring or air suspension. The Model 337 is the manufacturer’s most versatile medium-duty vehicle and is a true Class 7 performer. It’s available with up to a 35,000 lb. GVW rating and can be ordered with air or hydraulic brakes, so it can also be configured for non-CDL use and can be spec’d as a truck or tractor and with a single rear axle. The Model 348 is robust medium-duty vehicle and is great for heavier-duty regional routes or for vocational applications, such as dump, mixer or utility.

Peterbilt manufactures one cabover, the Model 220, which is available as a Class 6 or 7 truck and in CDL and non-CDL configurations.

“With the diversity of our medium-duty model lineup,” Slavin says, “we’re well positioned to have standard content that creates an outstanding spec foundation for the market segments the vehicles are designed for. For instance, the lighter-duty, non-CDL trucks are standard with automatic transmissions since non-dedicated drivers will likely operate them. Of course, all of the models are highly customizable but we’ve worked to crate standard content that the customer will most likely need.

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