Mack Re-enters Medium-Duty Market

Jan. 31, 2020

Mack Trucks is returning to the medium-duty segment with “MD” Class 6 and 7 trucks that will use steel cabs, Cummins B6.7 diesels, Allison 2500 automatic transmissions, and Meritor axles when it goes into production in July. The conventional-cab MD will be built in a leased plant in Roanoke County, outside Salem, Virginia.

The MD project has been in the works for two years, said Roy Horton, director of product strategy, though executives had been considering a medium-duty truck for several years before that. Mack last had a medium-duty model in the 1990s, when it used a cab-over-engine chassis from Renault, then its corporate parent, and the conventional-cab Mid-Liner, sold into 2002.

Although the new MD will compete with well-established products from many of the major truck builders, the midrange segment’s healthy sales mean there’s room for a high-quality truck that Mack plans to build, said Jonathon Randall, SVP for North American sales and marketing.

“It’s 100,000 units a year and growing,” he said, whereas the heavy-duty truck market is highly cyclical. Intended applications include pick up & delivery, dump, tank, and stake/flatbed. Components are all North American-sourced. Standard tire/wheel size is 22.5 inches, with 19.5 inchers optional. Steel and aluminum wheels are available.

MD6 and MD7 models will have 4x2 axle layouts with gross weight ratings of 19,501 to 25,999 pounds and 26,001 to 33,000 pounds, respectively. They’ll use a modified steel cab from the Granite heavy-duty vocational truck, Randall said. Bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement is 103 inches. Hood and grille styling came from the Anthem highway tractor. Interior design is based on the Anthem, with wrap-around instrument panel and  flat-bottom steering wheel.

The new venture represents an investment of $13 million, to be used for new tooling and readying the building—formerly a printing plant—for truck assembly, said Mack’s president, Martin Weissburg. Dealers began taking orders for the new model in late January. The Roanoke Valley Operations will employ up to 250 people whose “good-paying jobs” will have an annual economic impact of $360 million, local officials said. Virginia officials approved a $700,000 Opportunity Fund grant to boost the project.

The Roanoke Valley Operations plant is a new activity set up specifically for medium-duty trucks, and nothing will be taken from the Lehigh Valley Class 8 trucks plant in Pennsylvania, Randall said.