Just before the Coronavirus pandemic hit America’s shores, Indianapolis Work Truck Show played to record crowds and saw new medium-duty vehicles, new telematics platforms, aerodynamics packages and – of course – electric vehicle announcements.
Likely to be the most significant is the all-electric Ford Transit full-size van which debuted at the Work Truck Show but won’t go on sale in North America till 2022.
It’ll be built in America and the rollout is delayed, giving customers time to learn about all electric drivetrains and their operation. Plusses claimed for electrics include lower cost of ownership — half or less than internal combustion-engined vehicle — constant uptime, no oil changes, no transmission flushes, and no gas-station visits, said Ted Cannis, Ford’s global director of electrification.
It will be available in all Transit configurations, on three wheelbases and three roof heights, Other benefits for the upcoming model include no noise and the ability to be used inside buildings. Ford is zeroing in on a 25 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, to be carbon neutral by 2035 and to have a zero emissions fleet by 2050.
Across the isle from Ford, Ram Trucks was lauding the features of its panel van which is a rebadged Fiat Ducato, another European transplant that has moved the American panel van into the 21st century.
In America, the van is the Ram Promaster and it is in an increasingly important market segment, especially with the growth of e-tailing and its accompanying last-mile delivery. According to Dave Sowers, head of Ram vans, the Promaster has a class-exclusive front wheel drive and offers eight-, 10-, 12- and 13-ft cargo length.
Significant comfort and safety improvements for 2020 include forward collision monitoring and active braking, blind spot monitoring to the side and to the rear with companion feature of rear cross-path vehicle detection. Especially appropriate for the long wheelbases and high roofs of these vans, for 2021 the Promaster gets crosswind assist and a digital rear-view mirror that Ram says makes driving a big van more like a car.
On the pickup side, the higher payload 2500 and 3500 Ram diesels now feature up to 1,000ft lb of torque from the B6.7 Cummins, more than two and a half times the output of the diesel when it was first introduced in 1989.
Over at the Cummins stand, the company was trumpeting news about that venerable B series which has been around in different displacements and generations since 1984. The latest announcements centered around natural gas derivatives that meet ultra-low emissions targets in North America. These and Cummins ISL and ISX12 natural gas engines now exceed even California’s 0.2g limit for NOx in preparation for the anticipated 2027 federal limit which may be as low as 0.02 g of NOx.
Isuzu is taking a totally different tack with expanded gasoline engine options for its low cab forwards that are popular with landscapers and roll-off recovery truckers. The gasoline option saves on the initial price of its light and medium trucks and for low mileage operations represents a low cost of operation option. Or options, as there are 6.0 and 6.6 litre V8s with 311 and 350 hp respectively.
The Work Truck Show was the first public viewing of the new, downsized Mack medium duty model MD. These are two important categories because the first does not require a commercial driver’s license and both classes are exempt from federal excise tax which is levied at 12 percent on heavier trucks.
It is the first Mack in medium duty since Mack ceased production of the Freedom cabover, based on the Renault Midliner. The MD, however, is a conventional two-axle powered by Cummins B series engines from 220 to 300 hp. Mack said that the model was introduced to satisfy dealers who want to be able to offer customers a one-stop-shop for medium- as well as heavy-duty Mack models. As a new introduction, the MD’s hood draws styling cues from the Anthem model that debuted to much acclaim three years ago.
One of the more eye-catching vehicles at the Show was a new all-electric walk-in van from Workhorse. A companion to the C1000 van, the new glass fibre bodied C650 is a slightly smaller but more attractive 650 cu ft cargo van for last-mile deliveries.
Workhorse C-Series vehicles are powered by a modular battery pack system, which provides between 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) when equipped with two battery packs and 70 kWh in its standard four pack configuration.
The floor of the entire vehicle is low which allows easy in and out access for the driver. This feature also increases the usable volume for packages in the cargo area.
Also included in the launch of the C-series is a proprietary telematics system developed by Workhorse and introduced as Metron. This multi-platform application allows for tracking and monitoring the performance of all Workhorse vehicles in a fleet. It collects the data needed to optimize route planning and monitoring maintenance and fuel costs throughout the life of the vehicles.