The first of Mack Trucks' new MD Series medium-duty line started commercial production earlier this month at its Roanoke Valley Operations (RVO) facility, the company announced at a Sept. 22 virtual media event. Production began at the Virginia-based plant on Sept. 1, two months later than originally scheduled, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MD Series is the first new line of medium-duty Class 6 and 7 trucks for the 120-year-old manufacturer since the Mack Freedom launched in 2001 alongside the Granite.
The MD6 has a 26,000 gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), with the MD7 GVWR at 33,000 lbs. These trucks are also exempt from the 12% federal excise tax (FET). Because Class 6 trucks do not require a commercial driver’s license for non-hazardous material hauls, this opens up a new segment for Mack.
“Mack Trucks is pleased that our new MD Series is being delivered to customers as we speak, and the feedback has been very positive,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president of North American sales and commercial operations. “Fulfilling our promise to deliver high-quality, medium-duty trucks reinforces our commitment to supply product offerings that meet a variety of customer needs across the full commercial truck range.”
Despite the delays, Mack is on track with assembling the chassis, cab and various components, designed with a “clean slate” approach “with Class 8 DNA,” according to Roy Horton. Some design aspects, such as the grille, were taken from the Mack Anthem.
A few highlights Horton pointed out during the virtual walkaround included the sloped hood for better visibility, along with a peep window in the passenger side door to see objects and other vehicles to the right of the truck, integrated splash shields on the hood and cab to keep dust and debris from the engine compartment, and easy-to-replace halogen headlights. General maintenance is also made easy with quick access to the air cleaner, expansion tank, oil fill and check, filters and electronics, Horton said.
The 120,000-psi frame rails are also 50% stronger than the industry average, according to Horton.
The air suspended cab also provides the driver with more comfort by reducing vibrations. There is a bench seating option to fit an extra crew member in the cab as well.
Mack did not rule out advanced driver assist system (ADAS) functionality at some point, but would not comment on future plans for the product.
Actual volumes capacity was not disclosed, but Randall said Mack’s “aggressive market share targets” are currently able to be met. He said full assembly of one truck can happen in as short as a day.
“There are no limitations on the volume we are able to take in,” he added.
Reentry into the medium-duty segment is critical to Mack, as 100,000 vehicles in the market are sold each year. The MD Series can cover 75% of Class 6/7 applications, from van/reefer trucks to flatbeds and vocational vehicles, said Randall.
The company also sees a light at the end of the dark tunnel the coronavirus pandemic has cast on the global economy since the MD Series made its physical debut at the Work Truck Show in March.
“We’re now starting to actually see green chutes,” Randall said. “So we think 2020 is going to finish stronger than we had anticipated during the COVID forecast and even going into next year, we see upward pressure on that Class 6/7 (market), so there’s going to be further recovery.”
Antonio Servidoni, Mack vice president, medium-duty operations, said the workup has gone on for more than a year, and employees have forged on through the pandemic, with proper pandemic protocols in place, getting the plant ready for production “every single day.”
“Every member of the RVO team takes great pride in working at the site where Mack medium-duty vehicles are built,” Servidoni said. “We are already building Mack MD Series trucks to the same high-quality standards as our heavy-duty product line.”
The 280,000 square-foot facility solely dedicated to medium-duty trucks, is leased from LSC Communications. Its central location between Mack’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C. and its Customer Center in Allentown, Pa., also provides logistical advantages. It represents a $13 million investment and will provide 250 new jobs by next February.
Servidoni presented a virtual walkaround of the assembly facility, which implements lean manufacturing techniques such as a vendor managed inventory system to ensure proper parts supply and a production tracking system to digitally ensure proper manufacturing specifications, such as the torque on a bolt, are being met and can be traced.
The MD Series is available in 4x2 configurations and features a 103-in. bumper-to-back-of-cab length.
The powertrain comprises a Cummins 6.7L diesel engine with an Allison 2500 Highway Series transmission. A Rugged Series option is available for off-road vocations that may require more torque.
The trucks come standard with a 50-gallon fuel tank, with a 90-gallon option for customers with increased range needs.
Van sizes range from 8 ft. to 26 ft.
More Mack MD model information is available on the Body Builder Portal.