Just weeks after taking on his new role as Vice President of Global Brand and Marketing for Mack Trucks, David Galbraith spoke to HDT about the latest trends in the Class 8 market. Galbraith is responsible for Marketing Strategy, brand management, marketing communications, product marketing and digital marketing for OEM. His remarks here are more extensive than those included in a recent HDT article on trends in the classroom 8.
HDT: An update on how to resolve production slowdowns due to shortages of microchips and other components?
Galbraith: Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO) works hard to meet customer demands in the face of severe supply chain constraints affecting auto and truck manufacturers globally. We continue to do everything possible to minimize the impact on our customers and maintain the flexibility to adjust production as needed.
HDT: Has the deployment of the Phase 2 GHG standards developed by the EPA and NHTSA had a noticeable impact on the design and performance – and therefore market acceptance – of on-road trucks and / or professionals of the 2021-2022 model years?
Galbraith: Since announcing the Phase 2 standards, which apply to model year 2021-2027 semi-trailers, we have announced several technologies, software enhancements and tools for our clean diesel products to support the goal of our customers improve fuel efficiency on Mack. models. These include:
- Extended chassis fairings for the Mack Anthem, which were introduced in October 2019, further enhancing the benefits of the model’s aerodynamic design for fuel efficiency
- MP8HE + powertrain for on-road applications and the Mack Anthem, announced in October 2020
- Availability of a factory-installed FlowBelow Tractor AeroKit system on Mack Anthem highway models, which further improves fuel efficiency, as announced in October 2020
- The Mack Fuel Savings Calculator, which was deployed in January 2021, to demonstrate the benefits of the next-generation Mack MP8HE + powertrain
- The Mack Over The Air (OTA) remote programming solution, which offers faster software updates for improved uptime and efficiency, was upgraded in January 2021 to include pilot-activated updates as standard. In March 2021, Mack made Mack OTA even better with unlimited settings updates
- A new factory-installed Idle Free eAPU for the Mack Anthem was announced in October 2021, which has reduced downtime and increased fuel economy.
Mack Anthem’s retail sales grew by more than 20% in 2021, underscoring market acceptance of Mack’s latest products and technologies that help fleets reduce fuel consumption.
HDT: Where are you with electric vehicle offers, those now available? Are there any other electric models or model expansions slated for introduction in 2022? Do you have programs to help fleets integrate electric trucks and / or add charging solutions at home or on the road? And how well do you rate the general interest of fleet buyers in electricity?
Galbraith: We look forward to the start of the series [full] production this quarter of our Mack LR Electric, the fully electric version of our Mack LR garbage model. Our industrial footprint is set as we have made major investments in LVO and our powertrain facilities in Hagerstown in preparation for the commercial launch. The adoption of battery electric vehicle technology for garbage customers is very specialized and should be tailored to each customer’s operations. Our sales team of qualified electric mobility experts work closely with customers and dealers to support unique operating requirements and bodywork integration for waste applications. We also spend time helping them plan for the right load requirements, route optimization, and the right service needs throughout the life of the electric truck. Additionally, Mack has identified and communicated incentive and subsidy programs our customers are eligible for to help improve total cost of ownership and drive the transition to cleaner transportation.
To further support Mack customers as they begin their electric mobility journey, we announced in October that the new Mack Ultra service contract will be bundled with the Mack LR Electric. The full uptime package is specially designed for the needs of battery electric vehicles, covering scheduled maintenance, preventative maintenance, battery health monitoring and a battery performance guarantee covering battery health to help to ensure durability and reliability.
HDT: What about the energy of hydrogen fuel cells? Will the trucks that use it be available next year? At another possible future date? Once available, in what applications might hydrogen fuel cells be preferred over BEV?
Galbraith: The Volvo Group, of which Mack Trucks is a part, announced in April that it was investing in developing fuel cell technology through cellcentric, a hydrogen-based fuel cell joint venture with Daimler. One of the goals of the joint venture is to enable us to offer our customers the best vehicle options, depending on the application and geographic region.
HDT: New developments in advanced safety assistance systems and other improvements designed to reduce accidents and better protect truck drivers?
Galbraith: While there are no new Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS) products, Mack continues to deliver cutting-edge safety technology with the next generation Bendix Wingman Fusion, standard on all models. Mack Anthem models and optional for Mack Pinnacle and Mack Granite models. The camera and radar-based system offers collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning capabilities.
HDT: New developments in your after-sales service offers (resellers, telematics offers, etc.)? Are fleets in general responding well to these initiatives?
Galbraith: Based on the positive response from customers and resellers to the Mack Over the Air (OTA) remote programming solution that improves uptime, Mack announced earlier this year that it was expanding the popular update feature to allow clients to perform unlimited parameter updates. Standard on Mack Anthem, Granite and Pinnacle models, Mack OTA simplifies the vehicle update process by allowing customers to update software and settings remotely, saving them time and money. money by not going to a dealership for updates. Most driver-activated software updates can be completed in under 13 minutes. Driver-enabled parameter updates are typically completed in less than a minute. Mack OTA is available through Mack GuardDog Connect, Mack’s fully integrated telematics platform.
Mack announced in October that Northwest Equipment Sales, the Mack dealership in Boise, Idaho, is now a Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) dealer. They are the first Mack dealer in the Northwestern United States to achieve EV dealer status.
HDT: Regarding driver comfort and lifestyle, any new specifications or options that deal specifically with improving the driver’s environment?
Galbraith: Mack announced in March that its active steering system, Mack Command Steer, was entering production in Mack Granite rear axle models. Available for the Mack Granite and Mack Anthem models, the highly advanced active steering technology reduces operator effort by up to 85%, significantly relieving the operator’s body and creating a safer and more comfortable working environment. With a sensor system and an electric motor added to the hydraulic steering system, the truck monitors road conditions and applies torque as needed when events such as high winds and tire bursts occur, or in normal conditions to smooth steering feedback in the event of road disturbances, such as surface irregularities or potholes.
HDT: Can you take stock of your progress towards autonomous trucks, indicating the SAE autonomy levels?
Galbraith: There are no new updates from Mack Trucks at this time regarding autonomous trucks.