Home Truck News Mack’s MD delivers big results in smaller package - Truck News

Mack’s MD delivers big results in smaller package – Truck News

They didn’t draw it up that way. But looking back, Mack Trucks North America president Jonathan Randall thinks the launch of the company’s MD medium-duty series – on the eve of the Covid-19 pandemic – was perfectly timed.

The truck was launched in March 2020.

Mack MD
(Photo: James Menzies)

“The very next week, the world shut down,” Randall recalled to trade journalists who were given their first opportunity to drive the truck at Road America racetrack in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. “It launched into a different market. It has done a lot better than we could ever have imagined.”

For one, it came to market when Covid disrupted supply chains, giving prospective customers a new choice as they struggled to procure vehicles.

Kurt Manuel, president of Wisconsin-based tank truck maker Imperial Industries, says the OEMs that typically produced the trucks that were fitted with his company’s bodies were unable to meet demand during the pandemic.

“Mack was under 1% of our sales. Now they’re the leading brand,” he recalled. “The MD came to market right at the perfect time in my opinion. There was another leading brand that had most of the market in the septic waste arena. They faltered because of the supply chain and different issues. They really dropped the ball right at the time the MD came out, and it filled that void.”

Mack MD
The Mack MD equipped with a flatdeck for towing. (Photo: James Menzies)

Imperial installs about 1,200 tank bodies a year on various chassis, focusing on liquid vac applications such as portapottie cleanouts. Customers liked the MD’s visibility and tight turning radius, especially since they are often operating in crowded locations such as music festivals.

“We look for a dealer that can support us,” Manuel said of his relationship with local Mack dealer Kriete Truck Centers. “We tie into their computer system and hook our components into a lot of different parts on the trucks. If we don’t have that support, it takes too much time.”

Joseph Favia, regional manager, Mack MD, said when the MD was launched, dealers were told 75% of its volume would be straightforward box trucks with liftgates.

“I’m glad they didn’t listen to us,” he joked, noting the MD has found its way into a full range of applications not previously considered.

Versatile truck

Last year, Mack’s MD – available in Class 6 and 7 configurations – captured 5.5% of the Canada/U.S./Mexico medium-duty market, Randall said. It’s on pace to capture the same market share this year. Mack executives anticipated it would take 60 months to reach the market share it attained in just two years.

“It turned out to be a versatile truck,” Randall said. “Mack dealers, being who they are, will try to Mackify anything.”

The MD series is now being upfit with bodies as wide ranging as grapple hooks, roll-off bodies, dumps, and tow platforms.

“I saw my first expeditor on an MD7 the other day,” Randall added. “It’s an adaptable truck and has done very well in a lot of different segments we didn’t intend it to.”

He credited dealers with embracing the medium-duty model, training up their staff and investing in promoting the vehicle.

“It couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said. “It gave our dealers additional volume to sell in what has been a capacity-constrained Class 8 market.”

It also gives Mack a model it can electrify in a duty cycle that is well suited to electrification. The MD Electric will enter production later this year.

“We have already sold out our Q4 run and are now scheduling orders into late Q1 of next year,” he said of the electric version. “It makes sense. It stays within a small radius, operates in stop-and-go heavy urban environments, and comes home to the same depot every night for charging.”

Mack MD
(Photo: Mack Trucks)

Electric version coming

The electric MD6 will have range of 150 miles (240 km) or 240 miles (384 km), while the Class 7 will only offer the longer 240-mile (384-km) range option. The first MD Electric is being piloted with three more vehicles soon to hit the streets. The electric offering will help Mack reach its target of producing 35% zero-emissions vehicles by 2030.

David Kriete, president of EV-certified Kriete Truck Centers, said both the MD Electric and refuse cabover LR Electric are perfectly suited for electrification.

“Those are truly niches where the demand is being serviced,” he said, “an application in which electric can really work. It’s a closed loop circuit where it can serve a purpose for customers.”

Kriete has been expanding its presence in the Wisconsin market, where it aims to have a dealership every 60 miles (96 km), so its customers in the state are never more than an hour’s drive from a service location. Even in the Midwest, Kriete said there’s an appetite for electric trucks. It recently delivered two LR Electric refuse trucks to the city of Madison, installing chargers at its dealership there and training staff to safely service the trucks.

The medium-duty market there represents about 3,000 registrations per year, and Kriete said his dealer network captured about 6% of that market since the MD’s launch. For Mack overall, the MD6 comprises about 65% of its MD orders, largely because it can be operated without a CDL.

It fits into the 19,501-26,000-lb. GVWR category, while the MD7 runs from 26,001 lb to 33,000 lb. Both trucks have a Class 8 Anthem-inspired interiors with tilt/telescoping steering wheel, an air ride cab, adjustable seat, and a short 103-inch BBC for tight turning. The wraparound dash provides easy access to rocker switches.

The power comes from a Cummins B6.7 engine with 220-300 hp and 560-660 lb.-ft. torque mated to an Allison 2000- or 3000-series automatic transmission.

The short hood provides excellent forward visibility, and power windows and doors come standard.

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