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Trucks Article October 31, 2001
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Details of what was said in recent showings of new work trucks, sometimes called vocational models, made it sound like the manu

Details of what was said in recent showings of new work trucks, sometimes called vocational models, made it sound like the manufacturers are sending their product people to take notes during discussions of current models by those who now drive and manage trucks.

"Best in class maneuverability."

"With all (of our trucks), creature comforts abound."

"We proved ‘durability in aggressive testing.’"

That’s a sampling of the points made in recent new model reports by three makers—GMC, Mack and Volvo. Efforts of the three are being reviewed here because the units introduced are medium duties and stronger vocational models like those used by readers of ROADS & BRIDGES.

Upcoming from GMC is a family of conventional-cab, medium-duty trucks that will be introduced in early 2003. They carry the code designation GMT560 (Circle 929) and feature trucks in weight classes 4-5.

Speaking of the medium-duty models, David A. Hansen, general manager of GM fleet and commercial operations, said, "Operators will love the ride, handling, superior visibility, outstanding maneuverability, along with all the comfort and safety features we’ve designed into this family of trucks."

When completely available, the new family will include models with weight ratings well up in the heavy-duty class (61,000 lb), replacing C-series conventional cab models.

Mack’s next trucks are the Freedom series (Circle 930) of cab-over models. The producer said the Class 6 model in this series has one of the lowest cab heights among medium-duty vehicles and allows for one-step cab entry.

Volvo’s new vocational offerings are the VHD models (Circle 931). They were introduced to replace the line’s WG straight truck and Autocar truck and tractor models. There are now 16 truck and tractor models in the family which went through the equivalent of nearly 2 million miles of off-road testing.

Along the lines

On a line-by-line basis, here are the benefits of the new models:

First, GMC’s GMT560 models share a straight-section, C-channel frame design providing for maximum strength as well as delivering easy and low-cost body and equipment installation. The manufacturer ranked the cab-over models as having "best in class visibility" with drivers said to be able to see objects on the ground 13.8 ft ahead of the trucks.

Second, at Mack, as might be expected in vehicles from a long-time engine maker, the standard powerplant in the Freedom line is a 210 to 250-hp diesel.

The Mack models also carry the company’s V-MAC electronic controls.

Pleasing drivers in the Freedom models is choice in cabs. There are the standard cabs with a 63-in. bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) length and the XTRa model with a 79-in. BBC size.

Available XTRa variations are office cabs that provide space for hanging file storage and a slot for a laptop computer which has two 12-volt power ports and the utility cabs with seating space for as many as three plus extra storage space.

The third producer, Volvo, termed its new VHD models "class 8 vocational products." The company said its studies showed that customers "want a truck that was built for specialty applications, not a tough-looking highway tractor."

Volvo said it spent $95 million over two years developing the VHD line.

As is typical of Volvo efforts, great emphasis was placed on safety. VHD models have driver’s side airbags, three-point safety belts at all seating positions and energy-absorbing steering columns.

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