Freightliner expands options in Class 7 & 8 vocational trucks

Freightliner expands options in Class 7 & 8 vocational trucks

The truck maker has expanded available options to round out its full range of Class 7 and 8 vocational trucks with the introduction of the 108SD and 114SD models.

If it’s true that variety is the spice of life, Freightliner’s product lineup might now be described as "spicier."

The company recently introduced a pair of vocational trucks: the 108SD and 114SD set-back-axle (The numbers indicate bumper-to-back-of-cab, or BBC, measurements). This addition expands Freightliner’s severe-duty (SD) family from two to four vehicles. A CoronadoSD was introduced in 2009 and a 114SD set-forward-axle was introduced earlier this year. The extra iron will enable Freightliner to serve a full range of Class 7 and 8 vocational market segments, from construction to logging, municipal, utilities and refuse. It was not coincidental that the company’s introductory event was held in Las Vegas on the eve of the massive Conexpo-Con/Agg show, North America’s largest tradeshow for the construction industry.

Of course, Freightliner has offered vocational products in the past. During the late 1980s, the company began selling a steel-cab version of its FLC model. A few years later, it introduced a FLD 112SD and FLD 120SD, both adaptations of similarly named on-highway models.

The manufacturer purchased Ford’s heavy-truck line in the late 1990s and renamed it Sterling, hoping to capitalize on the blue oval’s popularity among vocational buyers, especially governmental agencies. That effort fell short of expectations, however, and Daimler Trucks North America pulled the corporate plug in late 2008, as the U.S. economy headed for recession and more stringent emissions requirements loomed on the horizon.

Back in the game
Company officials were determined to get back in the game, though. “When these decisions were made, we committed to return to the market with a complete product portfolio that would close the gap left by Sterling’s exit,” said David Hames, general manager of marketing and strategy for DTNA.

The reintroduction of Freightliner’s SD designation began in late 2009, when the company rolled out the Coronado SD. It featured a durable fiberglass hood, impact-absorbing fenders, improved forward lighting and a new single air filter that reportedly offered better filtration. The cab doors, composed of an aluminum outer shell and steel inner reinforcement, were said to be more rugged than those found on the truck’s on-highway sibling.
the grille is stationary and does not tip when the hood is open. it is available in chrome finish or black plastic.
In January, the company publicly doubled its SD lineup when it launched the 114SD set-forward-axle. Company officials said this truck was intended to fill a gap in its product line between the M2 series, from which it borrowed a cab, and the Coronado SD, from which it borrowed a chassis. The truck’s extra 2 in. of BBC, relative to that of the M2-112, was designed to provide enough spacing between front and rear axles to meet certain states’ bridge laws. The front axle, with weight ratings up to 23,000 lbs., was available in one of two positions: 29.5 in. or 31 in. (measured from the bumper). The standard engine was a Detroit Diesel DD13 (rated at 350 HP and 1,350 ft./lb. of torque). A 450 HP rating was optional. Later in the year, company officials said buyers could choose from an 8.9-liter Cummins ISL (with ratings up to 350 HP) or the lighter 8.3-liter Cummins ISC.

Adding selection
The most recent SD “family” expansion includes all previously announced features and adds greater vehicular selection to the mix. Now the 114SD is available in a set-back-axle configuration—48 in. from the front bumper is standard—and a new model, the 108SD, fills out the lighter end of Freightliner’s severe-duty spectrum.

A broad range of options and customizing choices define the SD product lineup. These include front frame extensions, radiator-mounted grilles, hood hatches, front and rear engine power-take-offs, body specific chassis layouts and a wide assortment of suspension and powertrain choices, including alternative-fuel engines that run on compressed or liquefied natural gas.

Displaying versatilityHood hatch provides access to check vital fluids without tipping the hood.
The breadth of SD versatility was on display at the pre-Conexpo event. Freightliner officials had set up a cone-studded obstacle course of tight switchbacks, swooping turns and straight acceleration lanes. Attending journalists were invited to drive, or ride in, any of eight rigs built as snowplows, dump trucks, cement mixers and municipal drain cleaners (affectionately referred to as “super suckers”). Everyone seemed quite impressed with the fleet’s maneuverability, handling and performance.

One 114SD set-forward-axle fitted with a crane was stationary, but media members were encouraged to play with the joystick-operated boom and experience the apparently seamless communication between truck and body-equipment controls. Freightliner officials attribute this integration to the company’s proprietary SmartPlex multiplex electrical system, which is said to simplify and enhance the connections required by body manufacturers.

Throughout the event, executives expressed their commitment to the vocational market and their interest in building trucks that precisely meet the needs of both equipment manufacturers and end users.

It’s all about working smarter, they said, echoing to the company’s recently coined tag line, “Work Smart.”

“We recognize that to be in the vocational business it’s not enough to just provide a truck,” Hames said. “You need to be a partner to the industry and understand that only the completed piece of equipment provides value to the end user.”

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