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Medium-duty, big business potential in 2015

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In the vocational markets, activity is strong across the board and retail sales of construction trucks continue to grow for just about every application.

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“Last year the industry sold more than double the number of construction units than it did in 2009,” explained Anthony Gansle, Peterbilt marketing manager, on-highway product. “There’s been significant year-over-year growth for the past five years and we see that momentum continuing. Peterbilt is also enjoying robust activity and had record heavy-duty vocational market share last year – and we’re on pace to meet or exceed that level this year.”

This past year saw the launch of Peterbilt’s Class 6-7 cabover Model 220 and a new, optional clear frame rail package, which have been big with pick-up and delivery applications or operating in urban environments thanks to the curb-to-curb turning radius that is 30% tighter, 45 additional inches of payload and panoramic visibility, Peterbilt explained.

“Construction pockets are blossoming all over North America, whether it’s housing, commercial real estate or infrastructure,” stated Kurt Swihart, Kenworth marketing director. “For Kenworth, this will be the strongest vocational market we have seen since the mid-2000s.”

Kenworth looks to meet that demand with the T880, which was launched in 2013. In the medium duty segment, we are seeing urban delivery customers show a lot more interest in Kenworth’s K270 and K370 cabovers than in the past, according to Swihart.

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Additionally, landscaping contractors are moving away from the old tow-behind trailers, and moving towards cabovers in various body applications such as dove-tails and flat-beds. “This is due to frequent traffic stops and ever increasing local ordinances against the tow-behind’s, along with the added benefit of maneuverability and superior sight lines for overall safety,” explained Joshua Tregear, manager, marketing communications for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc., which introduced its new Canter FE130 work truck. Its new entry into the Class 3 segment boosts GVWR and body/payload capacity by 700 lb. over the previous FE125 model.

“P & D or route delivery continues to drive the medium-duty market, from large to small size fleets,” Tregear said. “Favorable interest rates offered by both manufacturers and other lenders, a healthy stock market, and other positive economic indicators are providing businesses with the confidence they need to either grow or replace their work truck equipment. Throw in lower fuel costs, and it really begs the question, ‘If not now, then when?’ Plus, quality used truck inventory has been dwindling over the last couple of years, and some businesses that used to play in the used truck market are moving to new.

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Tregear went on to explain that the need for more sophisticated truck operators will continue to increase. There are many low cost-of-ownership benefits available to operating diesel cabover trucks, but drivers need to be educated on how optimize these opportunities. “Emissions compliance technology requires a skilled driver with proper training in order to maximize the cost savings potential with many businesses across a wide variety of vocations coming to this realization,” he said. “The bottom line is that an educated driver can add money to the bottom line.”

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