Vocational truck market to stay strong: Kenworth

July 24, 2017
The vocational truck market was a bright spot during the first half of 2017, and is expected to remain strong, according to executives of Kenworth Truck Co.

The vocational truck market was a bright spot during the first half of 2017, and is expected to remain strong, according to executives of Kenworth Truck Co.

Mike Dozer, Kenworth’s general manager, said positive economic reports on gross domestic product, consumer confidence, housing starts, and construction spending are in “good alignment with what we are seeing … within the industry, and certainly in the vocational segment.”

Dozier spoke at a July 21 event showcasing Kenworth’s dump trucks and mixers.

The truck maker, a unit of Paccar Inc., expects overall U.S. and Canadian Class 8 retail sales to finish the year in the upper range of its earlier estimate of 190,000 to 220,000 units.

“A key part of that is the vocational segment,” said Dozier.

As for Kenworth’s vocational lineup, Dozier and Kevin D. Baney, assistant general manger of marketing and sales, noted continued strong orders for the T880S, the truck maker’s latest configuration that features a set-forward front axle.

The vehicle is aimed at ready-mix, dump and mobile crane applications. It provides more flexibility, better payload, maneuverability, and driver visibility.

The T880 line was designed to eventually replace the T800, but Kenworth officials said there is no precise timetable as to when it will cease production.

“We let the market decide,” Dozier said, adding that the company expands on the newer model “so it happens naturally, as soon as it can.”

The T880S comes standard with the Paccar MX-13 engine, which along with the MX-11 is another area of strength. The two proprietary engines are included in more than 45 percent of Kenworth’s total orders.

“We are happy with the growth we’ve seen,” Dozier said.

Meanwhile, Baney outlined a series of other updates and enhancements:

Kenworth is increasing its rebate offer to $2,000 for members of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association. The offer includes the T880, W900, T440 and T470 models though the end of the 2017.

Production begins at the end of this month on trucks with new 20,000 lb.- and 22,800-lb. front steer axles from Marmon-Herrington. The option is especially suited for water trucks and oilfield services, Baney said.

Variable speed fan drives are soon to be available on the MX-13 engine, which not only boost fuel economy, but reduces noise, vibration and dust generation.

Also soon to be offered on the T880 and T880s models are bright-trimmed air intakes. Baney said this is a popular option, and will be available in the aftermarket as well.

The company begins production July 31 on the T680, T880, and T880s models with the Cummins Westport ISL G near zero NOx emissions natural gas engine.

The engine offers a 90 percent reduction over current emissions regulations. This is a critical option for many fleets in California and those whose shippers demand “green” fleets as part of their sustainability efforts, Baney said.

A ride-and-drive event included one of these vehicles, built in partnership with CalPortland and McNeilus.

Also announced during the meeting was the initial launch of a new van lease program in the United States with Paccar Financial for the T270 model. The lease offer is $875 a month with no money required at signing. It features a 26-foot Morgan Corp. van body.