If truck manufacturers had a single unifying talking point when they unveiled their plans for 2018 vehicles, it’s that the future is now. Technological enhancements that were once considered “nice to haves” among beverage fleet managers, increasingly are becoming standard components in the latest models. In addition to fleet connectivity solutions, those now-standard technologies include safety-focused equipment like back-up cameras and collision-avoidance systems.

Additionally, maneuverability has become a central theme, especially on tough-to-navigate narrow urban streets with tight turns. For instance, some manufacturers’ expanded emphasis on cab-forward/cab-over models speaks to that trend.

Here’s a rundown of what to expect as we roll into 2018.


PACCAR: Kenworth

Kenworth Truck Co., Kirkland, Wash., now offers the Bendix Wingman Advanced driver assistance system for its medium-duty T270 and T370 vehicles to help prevent collisions in urban environments and on highways. The system had proved popular on Kenworth Class 8 trucks, and the company now is making it an option for its Class 6 and 7 models.

Using a radar sensor mounted on the front of the vehicle, Bendix Wingman Advanced delivers warning alerts and active interventions for drivers. Regardless of whether or not cruise control is engaged, the system provides following distance, impact and stationary object alerts. Once cruise control is engaged and the desired speed is set, the Wingman Advanced system then actively intervenes to help ensure that drivers maintain a safe following distance behind a forward vehicle by reducing the throttle, engaging the engine retarder or, if necessary, applying the foundation brakes.

The Kenworth T270 and T370 series of Class 6 and 7 medium-duty trucks and tractors are equipped with a 109-inch bumper to back of cab (BBC), gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of as much as 66,000 pounds, feature sloped hoods, a single rear or tandem drive axle, and optional cab corner windows. The vehicles are equipped with Bellevue, Wash.-based PACCAR’s PX-7 and PX-9 diesel engines, providing 200 to 350 horsepower and as much as 1,150 pound-feet of torque. For the T370, front drive axles are available in ratings of as much as 20,000 pounds. Manual, automated or automatic transmissions are available.

For those looking for a cab-over configuration, Kenworth offers the K270 and K370 medium-duty Class 6 and 7 trucks with GVWRs of 26,000 and 33,000 pounds, respectively. Both series feature a 63.4-inch BBC, 55-degree wheel cut, an automatic transmission and a single rear drive axle. The K270 and K370 are equipped with PACCAR PX-7 engines with horsepower between 200 and 260 and 520 to 660 pound-feet of torque. Wheelbases are available in 12-inch increments from 142 to 242 inches. Both accommodate bodies from 16 to 28 feet long.


PACCAR: Peterbilt

In other PACCAR cab-over news, Denton, Texas-based Peterbilt Motors Co. earlier this year made enhancements to its Model 220, including a redesigned vertical exhaust. The single canister after-treatment in the new design replaces the former dual-canister design, which saves as much as 100 pounds for each unit, the company says. The design also increases the 220’s cab-to-axle distance by six inches. Additionally, Peterbilt has reduced the size of the battery box in the exhaust configuration, which results in a combined weight savings of as much as 165 pounds.

Peterbilt also partnered with sister company Peterbilt Financial to offer a fair market value lease program. The program offers a Peterbilt Model 337 medium-duty truck with a 26-foot Supreme van body on a 60-month term with monthly payments as low as $799, depending on vehicle specs.



Here’s a bit more on the cab-over front. Japan-based Isuzu’s new Class 6 2018 FTR is an environmentally friendly, fuel-efficient, medium-duty, low-cab-forward vehicle designed for optimal maneuverability and visibility on crowded city streets, the company says. The FTR is powered by the Isuzu 4HK1-TC 5.2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine, which carries a B-10 durability rating of 375,000 miles — meaning that 90 percent of engines should reach that mileage before requiring an overhaul, the company says. That’s an increase of 65,000 miles from its previous 310,000-mile B-10 rating. The engine is mated to an Allison 2550 RDS six-speed automatic transmission with power take-off (PTO) capability.

Its low-cab-forward configuration and clean back-of-cab design translate to more capacity, meaning distributors can get more cases on the truck. Additionally, its inner 50-degree wheel cut enables drivers to better negotiate tight turns, especially in urban environments. Drivers also can more easily maneuver their way in and out of Isuzu’s proprietary Hexapod cab, with wide step and wide-opening doors that allow for easy entry. The cab itself features three-across seating and extra space for storage behind the seats. The vehicle also includes a side under safety mirror, an overhead console and a suspension driver’s seat with an armrest specially designed to increase comfort and reduce driver fatigue.

The following are other features included with the Isuzu FTR:

  • A GVWR of 25,950 pounds
  • Eight wheelbase lengths, ranging from 152 to 248 inches that accommodate bodies from 14 to 30 feet long, enabling a broad range of body applications
  • 12,000-pound front-axle capacity and 19,000-pound rear-axle capacity
  • 11R22.5 tires fitted to 22.5-inch-by-8.25-inch steel wheels
  • An engine that generates 520 pound-feet of torque at 1,650 revolutions per minute (rpm) and 215 horsepower at 2,500 rpm
  • A standard multi-information display that allows drivers to monitor the status and condition of more than a dozen vehicle performance functions, which helps reduce maintenance costs and downtime, the company says
  • Available Vehicle Health Reports that provide a comprehensive analysis of a truck’s powertrain and emissions systems, fuel economy, brake usage and driver operating habits
  • A three-year/unlimited powertrain limited warranty


GM Fleet

Detroit-based GM has some cab-over news of its own, as the company added a new model to its range: the 2018 Chevrolet Low Cab Forward 6500XD. The new, dock-height Class 6 model is designed, like its Class 3, 4 and 5 stablemates, to be a highly flexible option, optimizing driver comfort, visibility, serviceability and ease of upfit, the company says. Standard equipment includes a 5.2-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that delivers 520 pound-feet of torque, as well as an Allison 2500 Series 6 automatic transmission with PTO. Additionally, the 6500XD sports Dana axles and a robust, straight-rail frame. Front- and rear-axle ratings are 12,000 pounds and 19,000 pounds, respectively, and maximum GVWR is 25,950 pounds. Eight wheelbases are available and the vehicle can accommodate bodies as long as 30 feet.

GM’s Upfitter Integration Group provides technical assistance to upfitters and serves as a liaison between special vehicle manufacturers, end customers and several of GM’s engineering, marketing and service teams.

Chevy also announced that its all-new Class 4 and 5 trucks, slated to launch in late 2018, will be branded as Silverado. Both the Silverado 4500 and the 5500 will be available in regular and crew-cab models with four-by-two and four-by-four capability and a wide range of GVWRs and wheelbases. Optional OnStar and 4G LTE connectivity through AT&T will be available for these models as well. Duramax diesel engines and Allison transmissions will power all Silverado 4500s and 5500s. Full technical specs on the Silverado 4500 and 5500 will be released closer to launch, the company says.

GM also is expanding its suite of driver connectivity and fleet management solutions. The company announced last spring that it was adding Spireon to its list of telematics service providers, joining Telogis and GM’s Commercial Link tool. Those solutions are designed to help improve efficiency and reduce idle time, as well as lower labor costs, mileage and maintenance-related downtime. The systems’ compatibility with OnStar eliminates the need for any aftermarket hardware installations.

It’s also a milestone year for GM, as 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Chevy truck.


Volvo Trucks

Volvo Trucks North America, Greensboro, N.C., unveiled the Volvo VNR model, with a shape designed to be as aerodynamic as possible and maneuverable on some of the tightest urban streets, with a 50-degree wheel cut. It features a 113-inch BBC length and improved sightlines over the hood.

The Volvo D11 engine offers as much as 425 horsepower and 1,550 pound-feet of torque and is paired with Volvo’s I-shift manual transmission. The following are other notable features:

n Factory-installed telematics hardware, providing connectivity for predictive diagnostics and monitoring of engine, transmission and after-treatment trouble codes through Volvo’s Remote Diagnostics system; Volvo’s standard connectivity hardware also enables users to perform powertrain software and parameter updates over the air with the company’s Remote Programming system, which helps improve uptime and reduce downtime costs, it says

  • Around-the-clock support available from Volvo Action Service (VAS) agents, who monitor critical vehicle codes
  • Infotainment system equipped with Apple CarPlay, offering high-end audio with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, navigation, apps and exterior camera
  • A large, color driver information display on the dash works with steering-wheel-mounted controls to provide key operating parameters and access to trip information, performance data and a wide range of vehicle diagnostics

A range of safety innovations also are available within the VNR. The Volvo Enhanced Stability Technology (VEST) detects imminent loss of driver control, jackknife or rollover incidents. The system automatically reduces engine torque and selectively applies braking to help keep the truck on course. Volvo Active Drive Assist includes Bendix Wingman Fusion, a camera- and radar-based collision-mitigation system that’s fully integrated with Volvo’s driver information display.

Volvo Active Driver Assist is in constant operation when the vehicle is in motion, providing stationary object detection with stationary vehicle braking, which sends audible and visual warnings to the driver. Among those is a red warning light that appears on the windshield, alerting the driver if a metallic object is detected in front of the truck. When the system recognizes the stationary object, such as another vehicle, braking assist can be applied at speeds greater than 15 miles an hour — regardless of whether the cruise control is engaged. The driver also will receive a warning as soon as 3.5 seconds before a potential crash with another vehicle. If the driver takes no action, Volvo Driver Assist automatically will engage the brakes.

Additionally, LED bulbs are standard for all exterior and interior lighting. The VNR features LED high-beam and low-beam headlights, as well as LED turn, marker and parking lamps.


Ram Truck

On the lighter-duty side of the market, Ram Commercial, a brand of FCA UC LLC, Auburn Hills, Mich., is rolling out the ProMaster Class 2 full-size van. The Ram ProMaster features a front-wheel-drive system, helping to reduce weight and complexity by locating all of the components beneath the cab. It keeps the cargo load floor-height and step-in height low, ideal for those getting in and out of the vehicle at multiple accounts throughout the day. The configuration also is beneficial in inclement weather situations like snow on the road, as there’s always weight on the front wheels to provide traction.

The Ram ProMaster features a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine or a torque-laden, 3.0-liter EcoDiesel I-4 engine. The engines are paired, respectively, with a six-speed automatic transmission and electronically controlled Dual Active Drive six-speed automated manual to optimize fuel economy. It’s also equipped with the now-standard UConnect system with optional navigation. Other key features include the following:

  • Integrated voice command with Bluetooth and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls
  • Rear backup camera
  • Window grate with fixed glass option on the right and left sliding doors

For more compact applications, Ram also offers the ProMaster City, which, as its name suggests, is ideal for more urban environments where parking spots are at a premium. ProMaster City offers a capacity of 131.7 cubic feet and 1,883 pounds. As of 2018, Uconnect 3 radio with a five-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and backup cameras will be standard features on ProMaster City equipment. The vans offer fuel economy of 28 miles a gallon, as well as 178 horsepower and 174 pound-feet of torque mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The following are additional features:

  • Cargo width of 60.4 inches by 87.2 inches by
  • 51.8 inches
  • Step-in height of 21.5 inches
  • 48.4 inches between wheel wells
  • 122.4-inch wheelbase

The ProMaster City is available in the Tradesman Cargo and Tradesman SLT Cargo models, both available with panels, glass or a combination of the two. It’s also available in the Wagon and Wagon SLT models with rear and side windows.



Another new option on the Class 1 front is Franklin, Tenn.-based Nissan’s NV200 compact cargo van, offering 122.7-cubic-feet of cargo space within a cargo-area width-by-length-by-height configuration of 54.8 inches by 82.8 inches by 53.0-inches (total vehicle length is 186.3 inches). It’s designed to be highly maneuverable in traffic, especially on urban streets, with a 36.7-foot curb-to-curb turning diameter, the company says. The tall rear doors are a 40/60 design with the 60 percent side on the right — the curbside — enabling easy access to the sidewalk. Both doors feature dual opening positions of 90 and 180 degrees, and the sliding side doors are designed for minimal effort. The doors are solid and windowless to enable company and brand logos. Additionally, there are 20 standard integrated, reinforced cargo-mounting points, which allow for the installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls.

Nissan has designed the NV200’s cockpit for optimal comfort and functionality. The driver’s seat is mounted in a high position that enables the driver to easily get in and out of the van and enhances one’s view of the road. The six-way adjustable seat with a manual lumbar and armrest is designed for durability with outboard vinyl wear patches. The passenger seat has a four-way adjustable design.

The following are other features:

  • 2.0-liter, 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder engine rated at 131 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque, matched with a next-generation Xtronic transmission
  • Fuel economy rated at 26 miles-a-gallon city and 26 miles-a-gallon highway
  • 12-volt power outlet on the instrument panel (additional 12-volt power outlet in the rear center console also is available)
  • Navigation package with color touchscreen display, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, SiriusXM Traffic and SiriusXM Travel Link (subscription required, sold separately)
  • Safety components such as Nissan Advanced Airbag System (AABS), roof-mounted curtain side-impact supplemental air bags for front occupant head protection, front-seat-mounted driver and passenger side-impact supplemental air bags, vehicle dynamic control (VDC), and tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS)


Mercedes-Benz Vans

In September, at the North American Commercial Vehicle show, Montvale, N.J.-based Mercedes-Benz vans offered fleet managers the first peek (in an artist’s rendering) at the new Sprinter, which is due to launch in Europe mid-year and roll out to other markets, including the United States, shortly thereafter. Among the most striking visual elements of the new design are the horizontal headlights, which Mercedes-Benz describes as “distinctive and athletic” in appearance, it says. Other new features include the comprehensive introduction of driving assistance systems and connectivity services in combination with new telematics.

The company also developed the Mercedes PRO adaptor, which, when inserted in the vehicle, establishes a connection between the van, driver and fleet manager. The web-based service links the fleet manager with all the vehicles and drivers in the fleet via the Vehicle Management Tool. The PRO adaptor initially launched in 19 European markets and others, including the United States, soon will follow.

The adaptor enables users to manage orders online, as well as check vehicle information such as location, fuel level or maintenance intervals in near real-time. Drivers communicate with the fleet manager via the Mercedes PRO adapter app on their mobile devices. As well as optimizing vehicle dispatching, efficient interaction between fleet managers and drivers, it gives fleets significant opportunities for improvements when it comes to scheduling jobs and planning routes.



Tokyo-based Hino’s big news for the coming year isn’t about a single piece of equipment, but about the expansion of its U.S. operations and its continued focus on its proprietary on-board technology package, Hino Insight.

In late September, the company announced its plans to purchase the former Cold Water Creek distribution center in Mineral Wells, W.V., and convert the location into its new vehicle assembly plant. The $100-million project will be completed by early 2019 and will allow the company to combine several assembly operations under a single roof. It also will house cab assembly, which currently is conducted in Japan. The facility will be four-times the size of its current plant, located nearby.

Meanwhile, expect to get better acquainted with the Hino Insight platform, as it now is standard on all models in its lineup, it adds. The platform offers a suite of three distinct functions: telematics, remote diagnostics and case management. Insight Telematics, powered by Telogis, includes all of the base features of the Telogis Fleet platform, with a number of Hino proprietary enhancements. Functions include fuel consumption monitoring, PTO usage, hard acceleration/braking events, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) level/quality, maintenance interval alerts, diagnostic trouble code (DTC) communications and driver vehicle inspection reports. All Insight trucks are ELD compliant with a simple subscription and app download. Fleet customers receive one year of Insight Telematics with a new truck purchase.

Insight Remote Diagnostics and Insight Case Management work together to provide users with real-time alerts on vehicle health. When a fault code occurs, Remote Diagnostics provides the user with actionable data, including the fault code, description and severity. Case Management connects users to the corporate Insight Diagnostic Center and a preferred Hino dealer, allowing dealers to better serve customers and reduce downtime. Dealers use the system to prepare for the service before the vehicle arrives. The system allows dealers to acquire parts, equip technicians with repair documents and send notifications of the repair status to the fleets’ back office. Insight Remote Diagnostics and Case Management subscriptions match the five-year warranty period for Hino trucks.

Hino also hinted that a new Class 7/8 truck line will be unveiled at the 2018 NTEA Work Truck Show. It will be powered by Hino’s A09 9-liter engine with a horsepower range from 300 to 360.



Freightliner, a business unit of Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler, in the past few months announced a series of new enhancements to its Cascadia model. The Cascadia now includes keyless entry, which offers convenience and can improve safety, the company says. In addition to standard functions like locking and unlocking doors, the keyless entry feature also enables drivers to roll down windows and test the bulbs on the truck’s exterior before hitting the road. Each truck comes with two keyless entry transmitters that are paired at the plant. Fleet owners also can have one transmitter paired for multiple vehicles.

Freightliner also produced its first road tractors powered by the Cummins ISL G Near Zero (NZ) NOx natural gas engine this year. The Cummins ISL G NZ NOx is the first mid-range engine in North America to receive emissions certifications from both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and California’s Air Resources Board (ARB). The engine runs on 100 percent natural gas and is compatible with compressed natural gas (CNG), liquefied natural gas and renewable natural gas.


Mitsubishi Fuso

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. (MFTBC), also a division of Daimler Trucks, in September celebrated the global launch of the FUSO eCanter, a series of all-electric light-duty trucks. After years of customer testing, MFTBC plans to deliver 500 units to customers throughout the next year and a half and expects to expand to larger-scale production in 2019.

The eCanter has a GVWR of 15,995 pounds and a range between 60 and 80 miles on a single charge. The vehicle has a load capacity of two to three tons, depending on the body size. Its electric powertrain contains six high-voltage lithium-ion battery packs, each rated at 420 volts and 13.8 kilowatt hours.

Not only does the eCanter help lower greenhouse gas emissions — as well as noise pollution — in urban environments, but it also offers savings of as much as $1,900 in operating costs for each 10,000 miles driven, the company says.

MTFBC also launched a heavy-duty, all-electric vehicle, the E-FUSO Vision One, which can be fitted with batteries rated at as much as 300 kilowatt hours, enabling a range as far as 200 miles for each charge.



Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford Motor Co. updated its F-650 and F-750 medium-duty trucks to improve performance and serviceability. Electronic stability control and traction control brakes now are standard on all 2018 F-650 and F-750 tractor models. The system initially will be optional on certain F-750 diesel air-braked straight trucks with high-center-of-gravity body upfits. Ford offers an optional automatic regeneration inhibitor on 2018 diesel trucks to give the operator more control of when the engine goes into regeneration to clean the diesel particulate filter.

The company also offers a bumper extension to help limit potential hood wear and front-end collision damage. The extension moves the full-width front bumper from flush with the grill to three inches in front of it, providing additional protection to the grill and the components behind it.

The 2018 models also make it easier to check oil and transmission fluid levels with relocated dipsticks that users can access from ground level. The transmission fluid dipstick also has been moved to ground-level on gasoline-powered models (the gasoline engine’s oil already was accessible from ground level).

The 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 turbo diesel engine delivers standard 270 horsepower and 675 pound-feet of torque; it’s also available with outputs of 300 horsepower with 700 pound-feet of torque and 330 horsepower with 725 pound-feet of torque. The diesel model has a B10 engine design life of more than 500,000 miles and is backed by a standard five-year/250,000-mile limited warranty. An exhaust brake comes standard with every diesel engine.

The 6.8-liter V10 gasoline engine generates 320 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque for less than the cost of a diesel engine, the company says. The gas engine also can be factory-prepped for conversion to CNG or liquid propane.

Both the diesel and gasoline engines come with the Ford-built TorqShift, heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission. The following are other features of the F-650 and F-750:

  • 50-gallon capacity on regular cab and 65-gallon capacity on SuperCab and crew-cab versions
  • Electronic stability control (on tractor models only)
  • Frame-mounted body-builder wiring at the back of the cab (not available on tractor models)
  • Belt-Minder front safety belt reminder

But the Ford news isn’t all medium-duty-related. The company also announced updates to its 2018 Transit van lineup. For instance, the rearview camera — standard on the Transit series — has moved above the rear door on medium- and high-roof models. It will remain next to the license plate on low-roof models.

Additionally, a locking glove box has become standard on Transit vans, along with a new rear door exit handle and a rear LED cargo lamp switch. Optional features for the 2018 models include heavy-duty cargo area flooring, a heavy-duty rear scuff plate kit, extended-length running boards and a push-down manual parking brake. The following are other components available:

  • 25-gallon fuel tank capacity
  • 3.7-liter, Ti-VCT V6 gasoline engine
  • Power-folding, short-arm heated mirrors with turn signals
  • Tilt/telescoping steering column
  • Remote keyless entry system
  • AM/FM stereo with audio input jack, microphone and Bluetooth interface
  • D-pillar assist handles for medium- and high-roof models
  • Forged alloy dual rear wheel package
  • Charcoal leather-trimmed, heated seat package
  • SOS Post-Crash Alert System


Now, a bit on Class 8 vehicles — historically, not a significant component of a beverage distribution fleet, but increasingly becoming more prevalent for longer-distance bulk trailer deliveries. International, a brand of Lisle, Ill.-based Navistar Inc., announced major enhancements to its LoneStar truck to maximize driver productivity and improve ergonomics and visibility. The LoneStar now features a new single-canister after-treatment system, which is 60 percent smaller, 40 percent lighter and simplified for quicker servicing, Navistar says. The company also notes that the new LoneStar is 3 percent more fuel efficient than the previous generation, thanks to the addition of the Cummins X15 engine, the contoured hood and aerodynamic pedestal mirrors.

The cab wiring includes all-new harnessing and an in-cab power distribution module that’s located inside the truck to keep it shielded from the elements. All key service points under the hood, inside the cab and throughout the vehicle are designed for easy access and servicing, and many components have been engineered with longer intervals between required maintenance. The LoneStar also includes a new HVAC system designed to deliver maximum comfort and visibility. Particularly noteworthy is its quick defrost functionality. During testing, LoneStar’s MAX defrost cleared 100 percent of the windshield in less than 30 minutes from start-up at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Users can opt to include the company’s proprietary remote diagnostics and over-the-air (OTA) programming system, OnCommand Connection. BI