ATLANTA -- Phil Christman, newly installed vp & gm of International Truck & Engine Corp.'s severe service division, believes the customization needs of the vocational market will increase in the near future, even as tighter emission regulations make such customization more challenging.
"The ability to customize is a very big deal in this market," Christman told Fleet Owner in an interview at Waste Expo. "Look at our revised WorkStar truck model. We had increased heat rejection from the '07 emission engine package we had to manage, yet at the same time we could not drop the front-mount PTO [power take off] option many customers in this field need. So we had to find a way to deal with both of those needs simultaneously."
A bigger hood and grill on the WorkStar allowed it to accommodate emissions-compliant engines without dropping the radiator between the frame rails, allowing customers to maintain front engine PTO capabilities without affecting the radiator, he said.
"Another big issue is making our vehicles as 'road ready' as possible when they leave the factory, so body installation time can be minimized yet integration between body and chassis improved," Christman added.
He said International's multiplexed electrical wiring, combined with its Diamond Logic electronic control system, allows for faster "plug and play" between the chassis and the body. It eliminates the need to splice into wiring harnesses to make body-truck connections, which ensures greater integrity for the vehicle's electrical system while speeding up delivery times, according to Christman.
"Our next big challenge is to keep doing all of this as we meet the 2010 emission standards," Christman said. "We need to make that transition as seamless as possible, minimizing the impact on how customers use their vehicles and on their operating costs. We need to keep finding ways to improve the life cycle value of our vocational trucks despite the challenges posed by meeting the next emission standard- that's the value our customers are looking for from their trucks."