Every industry has its trends, and when we look at the trucking data, we see trends too, like the current and continuous rise of last-mile delivery.
Let’s take a look at what trends like last-mile means for the future of medium-duty trucks.
The rise of medium-duty is buoyed by both the last-mile boom and by a growing tendency among some fleets to favor Class 6 trucks. These trucks don’t typically require a CDL, so the thought is this translates into attracting a wider pool of drivers. And it makes sense at a time when the driver pool continues to challenge our industry.
Requiring a CDL further limits available drivers, so some fleets may opt to change their transportation operations to run these trucks. Of course, there are certain payloads that require a CDL regardless of chassis GVWR.
In 2021, 32% of the medium-duty market was comprised of pickup and delivery, while 37% was lease rental, giving the two 69% of the market combined. That’s a ridiculously huge part of the market, but there are plenty of other applications to keep tabs on too, like those in the vocational space. Here, whether or not a driver needs a CDL isn’t likely to drive significant change, because typically, vocational fleets need trucks with higher GVWRs.
We’re also seeing industry-wide trends toward safety items like collision mitigation and camera use, neither of which are particularly tied to last-mile. Today’s medium-duty trucks feature easily accessed service points to get the truck in and out of the shop quickly, too. We also see features like a semi-wraparound dash becoming popular, like in Mack’s MD series.
Of course, we can’t forget about the rise of electric. As electric vehicles emerge in the Class 6 and 7 market, we will likely see some of the historical vehicle class, configuration, and differentiation lines – like engine displacement and visibility – blur. Some of these lines, though, like overall vehicle weight as it relates to CDL requirements, will remain a constant.