Vehicle original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) increasingly have become attuned to one of the biggest challenges for today’s beverage delivery fleets: driver recruitment and retention. Many of the new models for 2019 seem to have been upgraded with that modern reality in mind, as a number of the key features on next year’s vehicles are geared toward enhancing the overall driving experience.
Here’s a look at what you can expect from some of the biggest names in fleet equipment manufacturing:
Chevrolet this year unveiled its first-ever Silverado Class 4, 5 and 6 chassis cab trucks, which are designed to solve the most common upfit and ownership challenges fleets have with today’s medium-duty vehicles, says parent-company GM.
One of the most significant of those challenges is the cost and complexity of upfits because of frames that rust, and rivets, brackets and fluid lines that interfere with body mounting.
The new Silverado trucks address those challenges with factory-painted frames, with one-piece frame rails; smooth, unobstructed top sections; and through-the-frame fuel fill lines.
Users won’t face the same compromises on frames because of frame rails that are too short behind the rear axle to accommodate longer cargo boxes without extensions and reinforcements, the company says. The issue will be addressed by the Silverado line offering seven cab-to-axle options ranging from 60- to- 162 inches, along with five axle-to-back-of frame lengths sized in eight-inch increments.
Service obstacles are another major issue with truck ownership, which the new Silverado addresses. Among those common obstacles are hood designs that force technicians to use ladders or remove vehicle components to access under-hood components for maintenance and repair. Chevy’s solution is ensuring each vehicle includes a lightweight, front-hinged clamshell-style hood. When combined with a 50-degree wheel cut, the hood allows easy walk-up access to under-hood components.
Too often, vehicles can be difficult to drive because of poor downward perspective for the driver, poor low-speed maneuverability from narrow wheel cuts and wide-turning radiuses, the company notes. But However, the precise crafting and contouring of the hood optimizes the driver’s perspective of the road, and the 50-degree wheel cut offers greater maneuverability, Chevy says. Noise, vibration and harshness of operation also are common issues plaguing fleets, making for very loud and uncomfortable cabs. The 2019 Silverado offers components that help minimize noise and vibration. Those include an available, factory-installed rear air expansion, triple-sealed inset doors to help reduce wind and road noise, and huck bolts used throughout the frame for optimal clamping force.
The company also points out that poorly placed and marked diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tanks can lead to refueling errors. On the 2019 model, the DEF tank is located on the passenger side of the truck — the opposite side of the fuel fill, for greater convenience, it says.
The Silverado will be available in two- and four-wheel drive options and will be powered by a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine, with 350 horsepower and 700 pound-feet of torque and Allison transmissions with a Power Take Off option.
With maximum connectivity in mind, Silverado also will feature options such as OnStar and Commercial Link, a built-in 4GLTE Wi-Fi hotspot (requiring a paid data plan), wireless cellphone charging, Bluetooth and support for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
In other GM news, the 2019 GMC Sierra has been redesigned from the ground up and includes a longer wheelbase and longer crew cab body that offers roughly three inches more rear legroom than the previous model. The MultiPro Tailgate offers six functions and positions for enhanced second-tier loading and load-stop solutions, a standing work station and easier access to items in the cargo box.
The Sierra’s Multi-Color Head-Up Display projects key customizable vehicle data on the windshield in a three-inch-by-seven-inch display. A rear camera mirror also is available, which can function either as a traditional rear-view mirror, or as a camera screen, helping to eliminate obstructions and head restraints while providing a wider, less obstructed rear field of view. The truck is 360 pounds lighter than the previous model, thanks to the use of mixed materials, including aluminum for the doors, hood and tailgate and steel for the fenders, roof and cargo box, the company says.
Ram has made a number of upgrades to its ProMaster and ProMaster City Vans for 2019, including a refreshed exterior appearance that incorporates the “Ram” grille theme carried over from the pickup line.
Ram ProMaster and ProMaster City models also feature fleet technologies, such as Ram Telematics, powered by Verizon Connect. The system enables fleet managers to track vehicle and driver behavior data to help fleets save money on fuel, improve route efficiency and promote safe driving. It also offers real-time vehicle diagnostics and performance data.
The ProMaster line adds three new models: ProMaster 2500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase low-roof, ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase low roof and ProMaster 3500 Cargo Van 136-inch wheelbase high roof.
The ProMaster line also features upfit-friendly technology, including a Vehicle System Interface Module (VSIM) with 13 inputs and 41 outputs. The VSIM provides upfitters with quick and reliable connections to vehicle systems. Additionally, new, optional interior LED lighting is 20 times brighter and offers integrated motion sensors.
Ford recently introduced its new 2019 Transit Connect Cargo Van. The new Transit Connect Cargo Van offers three different engines capable of running on as much as five different fuels.
A standard new 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline direct injection engine with auto start-stop is paired with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, optimized for around-town performance and low-rpm cruising on the highway. The engine is E85-compatible and comes with a standard heavy-duty battery and available heavy-duty alternator to supply power to some of the most demanding upfit applications. The vehicle’s new 1.5-liter EcoBlue diesel engine is targeted to have an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of at least 30 mpg on the highway, however, actual mileage will vary, the company notes.
The new diesel engine combines the latest in fuel injection, turbocharging and emissions-control technologies. The EcoBlue engine also is fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Like the new 2.0 liter, the 1.5-liter EcoBlue comes with EcoMode and EcoCoach, which monitors fuel economy and encourages fuel-efficient driving behavior. Standard across all models is Automatic Emergency Braking, helping to reduce accidents and the time vehicles spend in the shop and not on the road, the company says. The following are other standard and/or available features:
- Standard pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection to help avoid collisions with other vehicles and pedestrians who might cross in front of the vehicle’s path.
- Standard side wind stabilization
- Standard rearview camera
- Available blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert
- Available lane keeping system that helps drivers avoid lane drift to keep the vehicle centered on the road
- Available adaptive cruise control to make highway driving easier by automatically slowing the vehicle when the radar detects traffic slowing ahead.
The Transit Connect offers a 38.3-foot curb-to-curb turning diameter, enabling it to maneuver comfortably and park on tight urban streets.
The Transit Connect Cargo Van also keeps up with the pace of today’s connected beverage fleet managers with standard 4G LTE wireless connectivity — for as many as 10 devices — and available wireless mobile device charging. The FordPass system helps monitor small fleets, including driver location, fuel level, tire pressure and other functions. Ford’s MyKey programmable ignition key enables owners to preset warnings and limits for vehicle speed, while restricting the entertainment systems audio to 45 percent of maximum volume.
In related Ford van news, Lightning Systems, a developer of efficiency and emissions improvement solutions for fleets, delivered its new zero-emission LightningElectric system for Ford Transit. Lightning Systems also developed a zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell range extender for the product. The range extender will increase the range of the LE 50 from 50 to more than 200 miles, with a top speed of 75 miles per hour (mph). The LightningElectric fuel cell range extender uses hydrogen stored on board in high-tech carbon fiber-wrapped pressure vessels equipped with sensors. It began rolling out in California in September.
Both the all-electric and the zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell range extender are available for heavy-duty Transit Vans with a 10,360 gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). Ford’s warranty covers the base chassis for vehicles with the Lightning conversions. Installations and service are performed by Ford QVM upfitters and dealers worldwide.
The all-electric product features a liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery that can be charged in 30 minutes on DC fast charging and in six hours with Level 2 charging. Depending on the battery option and drive cycle, LightningElectric has a payload capacity of as much as 4,000 pounds. Available as an option on all Lightning Systems vehicles is LightningAnalytics, a new cloud-based analytics system that provides drive, route and predictive vehicle health scoring for maximum range and efficiency. The analytics tool provides fleets with real-time information that will help them operate at peak efficiency, the company says.
Hino introduced the XL series, rounding out the company’s Class 7 product offering and launching the company into the U.S. Class 8 market for the first time.
The Hino XL7 and XL8 models are powered by Hino’s A09 turbo diesel 8.9-liter inline 6-cylinder engine with a B10 life of 1 million miles. The XL Series is available in a variety of straight truck and tractor configurations, ranging from a GVWR of 33,000- to- 60,000 pounds.
A number of new active safety solutions also are available. Electronic stability control (standard on tractor) automatically intervenes when there’s a significant risk of directional instability that could lead to loss of vehicle control or rollover. The radar-based collision-mitigation system, an available option for the XL Series, provides active braking on moving and stationary vehicles in all visibility conditions. Another available component is a camera-based lane departure warning system that helps reduce road run-offs, side swipes and head-on collisions due to driver inattention or fatigue through audible warnings any time an unintentional lane departure takes place.
The cab has been designed for safe and easy entry and egress with exterior grab handles, deep all-weather grip steps and extra-wide door openings. Drivers get maximum visibility with the help of standard LED lights, a high seating position and 2,385 square inches of windshield.
Also available are innovative payload management suspension options and a body-builder-friendly optimized design engineered for maximum ease of serviceability. Air-ride cab and driver’s seat, hands-free Bluetooth audio/calling, steering wheel controls, LED headlights, cruise control and air conditioning are among the features that will be standard on every 2020 model year Hino XL7 and XL8.
Production on the new XL7 and XL8 models is expected to begin in early 2019.
The Isuzu N-Series and F-Series low cab forward (LCF) vehicles include Class 3 to Class 6 trucks, offering two EPA-certified diesel engines and a gasoline engine alternative. The Isuzu Diagnostic Service System (IDSS) allows diesel-model owners to receive a detailed “health report” from Isuzu dealers on performance data.
The following are vehicle options available:
- 2019 Isuzu NPR-HD – has a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 14,500 pounds, wheelbases ranging from 109 to 176 inches and body lengths as much as 20 feet. The 5.2 Isuzu 4HK1-TC turbocharged intercooled diesel engine has a B-10 rating of 375,000 miles, 215 horsepower at 2,500 rpm and 452 pound-feet of torque at 1,850 rpm.
- 2019 Isuzu NPR-XD – has a GVW of 16,000 pounds and the same wheelbase and body length options as the NPR-HD. It also features the same B-10 rating, horsepower and torque as the HD.
- 2019 Isuzu NQR – a 17,950 GVW truck with wheelbases ranging from 109 to 200 inches and body lengths of as much as 20 feet.
- 2019 Isuzu NRR – has a GVW of 19,500 pounds, offering a slightly larger wheelbase range, from 109 to 212 inches, as well as body lengths up to 24 feet and most of the same engine features.
- 2019 Isuzu FTR – a Class 6 LCF truck, has a GVW of 25,950, wheelbase options ranging from 152 to 248 inches and bodies as long as 30 feet. The 5.2 Isuzu 4HK1-TC turbocharged four-cylinder engine offers 520 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm.
This year, International debuted its new Class 6/7 MV Series, part of its Project Horizon product refresh. Project Horizon is focused on delivering new levels of efficiency and enhancing driver satisfaction while leveraging what International calls “the smartest technologies available.”
Redesigned features include new cab doors with a lower bottom glass edge and removed vent window, giving the driver a single large piece of glass to look through that enables greater side visibility and reduced blind spots, the company says. By reshaping the doors and side glass, the position of the optional pedestal mirrors was optimized so drivers turn their heads less and keep their eyes on the road while reducing neck strain, it adds.
Another key improvement is the addition of a new premium gauge cluster with digital driver display, giving drivers real-time monitoring of vehicle operation and other important alerts in clear site. The new display also offers as many as 15 customizable digital gauges. The instrument panel features a customizable digital display suitable for any medium-duty application, the company says. The flat-panel dash has space for as many as 30 customizable switches, ensuring functionality for whatever body type is mounted on the back. The switches feature large, easy-to-read text and backlighting for easy viewing at night.
The MV Series also integrates an easy-access column-mounted stalk shifter to help keep drivers’ hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. The stalk shifter placement and the lower instrument panel design significantly improves leg room, particularly at the knee, it says. The vehicles also are equipped with a new HVAC system, which includes a high-performance MAX defrost feature. There’s an additional vent to help keep the middle front passenger more comfortable.
Another key feature of the MV Series is Diamond Logic, an advanced electrical system that streamlines chassis and body equipment integration and allows users to program automated tasks.
As is common among International Truck models, the MV Series can be digitally managed through the OnCommand Connection platform, featuring the company’s advanced remote diagnostics system designed to enhance fleet efficiency, as well as Over-the-Air (OTA) programming through the nine-pin OnCommand Link device. This enables drivers or fleet managers to use a mobile interface to initiate authorized engine programming at the beverage distribution facility over a safe, secure Wi-Fi connection. OnCommand Connection telematics, including telematics hardware and monthly data packages, also are available through dealers or through OnCommandConection.com. The MV Series is available in a variety of specifications: regular cab, extended cab and crew cab.
The MV Series release follows the launch of International’s RH Series Class 8 tractor powered by the company’s new A26 12.4-liter engine. The cab wiring of the RH Series includes all-new harnessing and an in-cab power distribution module that’s inside the truck and safe from the elements. Redesigned side windows and mirrors provide enhanced side visibility. It also offers an inside wheel cut of as much as 50 degrees, delivering a curb-to-curb turning radius of 27 feet and 10 inches, enabling better maneuvering in urban environments, it says.
International applied its DriverFirst product design philosophy when crafting the vehicles. The company conducted extensive research with truck drivers, including at driver clinics that gathered input from hundreds of drivers. Based on that data, International was able to redesign the interior with a new premium gauge cluster with driver display that places everything within reach, while offering drivers real-time monitoring of fuel economy and other important alerts.
Volvo announced that it will introduce all-electric truck demonstrators in California in 2019 and plans to commercialize them in 2020. The trucks are part of a partnership with California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) preliminarily awarded $44.8 million to SCAQMD for the Volvo LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project. Volvo LIGHTS, which will involve 16 partners, is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse emissions and improving public health and the environment. A range of smart technologies will be used, including remote diagnostics, geofencing and the company’s web-based service management platform to monitor all truck performance aspects of the project and maximize vehicle uptime. Volvo says the project will annually reduce nearly 3.6 tons of criteria pollutants and 3,020 tons of greenhouse gases.
Volvo also revealed that its new VNL 300 day cab now is available with the latest version of the Cummins ISX12N “Near Zero” natural gas engine. With available engine ratings of 350 horsepower with 1,450 foot-pounds of torque with as much as 400 horsepower with 1,450 foot-pounds of torque, the ISX12N natural gas-powered engine is approved for gross combination weights of as much as 80,000 pounds.
For all Volvo truck owners in the United States and Canada, the GHG 2017 Volvo engines equipped with Volvo’s factory-installed connectivity hardware now are eligible for software and parameter updates with Volvo’s Remote Programming, it says. Users can perform updates anywhere in the United States and Canada where a cellular connection is available.
With Remote Programming, there’s no need to take a vehicle out of rotation to perform software and parameter updates, the company says. The driver can pull over, connects to the Volvo Uptime Center and the update commences over the air in less than 20 minutes.
Nissan’s 2019 NV Cargo Van features a long, wide cargo floor, square-top wheel well housings and nearly vertical sidewalls, with enough room to fit two 40-inch-by-48-inch pallets. The 2019 NV Cargo is available in three models: NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD and in two roof configurations: Standard Roof and High Roof.
Available technology includes NissanConnect with navigation and mobile apps. The system features a 5.8-inch color touch screen display, Nissan Voice Recognition for audio and navigation, Sirius XM Traffic and Sirius XM Travel Link (Sirius XM subscription required).
The van is available with a 375-horsepower, 5.6-liter Endurance V8 gasoline engine with a heavy-duty, seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s also available with a fuel-efficient 261-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 with five-speed automatic transmission.
The NV Cargo has a starting manufacturers’ suggested retail price (MSRP) of $29,340.
Meanwhile, Nissan’s NV200 Compact Cargo Van is offered in two grades, S and SV, along with a number of option packages that enable fleet managers to create the exact vehicles for their individual needs. The NV200 features a small turning radius for easy parking and maneuvering on urban streets. The passenger seat includes a fold-down feature to become a worktable.
The van has 122 cubic feet of cargo space and is capable of fitting a 40-inch-by-48-inch pallet sideways with access by 40/60-split rear doors and sliding doors on each side. A 131-horsepower, inline four-cylinder engine powers the vehicle and fuel economy is rated at 24 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. The NV200 Compact Cargo starts at a MSRP of $22,200.
Kenworth’s T270 and T370 medium-duty trucks now come standard with Dana Spicer S140, single-reduction, single-drive axles. The T270 features the Dana Spicer S17-140 rated at 16,000 pounds while the T370 comes with the Dana Spicer S21-140 rated at 21,000 pounds.
The S140 axle design incorporates GenTech extra-quiet gearing to reduce noise levels by up to 12dB versus standard gear designs and provide a smoother vehicle ride. The axles also offer a weight savings of as much as 85 pounds compared with the Dana P200605 axle.
PACCAR recently announced that WABCO’s OnGuardACTIVE safety system now is available on Peterbilt medium-duty models, 348, 337 and 220.
The OnGuardACTIVE advanced driver assistance system provides drivers with acoustic, visual and haptic alerts in potentially hazardous situations. The system also will engage the braking system to prevent a collision with a moving or stationary vehicle if the driver does not respond soon enough. The system always is on for vehicle speeds above 15 mph. The adaptive cruise control function helps reduce driver fatigue in heavy traffic and automatically adjusts speed relative to the vehicle ahead to maintain a pre-set following distance.
Mercedes-Benz is set to roll out the new eSprinter electric van, with an installed battery capacity of 55 kilowatt-hours. The company expects the range to be just shy of 150 kilometers (about 93 miles), with a maximum payload of 900 kilograms (1,984 pounds).
The electric drive in the eSprinter generates 85 kilowatts and torque of as much as 300 newton meters. The eSprinter will be initially available as a panel van with a high roof and a gross vehicle weight of 3,500 kilograms (roughly 7,700 pounds). Similar to the Sprinter with a convention internal combustion engine, maximum cargo volume of the eSprinter will be 10.5 cubic meters (about 370 cubic feet).
The Freightliner M2 106 offers beverage distributors as much as 55-degree wheel cut, providing optimal maneuverability on tight city streets, it says. The company says the vehicle’s breakaway mirrors and a three-piece swept-back bumper help reduce replacement costs.
The vehicle also features ergonomically correct entry and egress to minimize driver fatigue and enhance overall safety. The M2 106’s 2,500-square-inch windshield and sloped hood help maximize visibility — the windshield is tinted to help prevent glare. Additionally, the drop-frame compatible chassis with partial inner-frame reinforcement simplifies body installation.
The M2 106 includes ServiceLink diagnostic tools to enable quick and easy maintenance and repairs.
Horsepower ranges from 200 to 350, with as much as 1,150 pound-feet of torque. The M2 106 is available in day cab, extended cab and crew cab configurations. Greener options are available in the form of the M2 106 hybrid or the M2 112 natural gas tractor. The M2 112 natural-gas-powered vehicle is available in horsepower with as much as 320 and 1,000 pound-feet of torque.
Mitsubishi FUSO Trucks of America is showcasing its new gasoline-powered Class 4 and Class 5 FE Series cabover trucks with new cab interiors designed to improve driver comfort and efficiency. Although diesel continues to dominate the medium-duty truck market, gasoline engines have been increasing in popularity and command about 40 percent market share, according to Mitsubishi FUSO.
The FUSO FE GAS truck features the GM 6.0L V8 engine and Allison 1000 automatic transmission. The V8 gasoline engine initially will be available in two Fuso Class 4 models: the 14,500-pound GVWR FE140 and the 15,955-pound GVWR FE160. And the engine soon will be available in FUSO’s Class 5 FE180 (with a GVWR of 17,995 pounds), which, the company says, will make it the first Class 5 cabover with an available gasoline-fueled engine.
In all models, the engine provides 297 horsepower and 361 pound-feet of torque.
In future models, the engine also can be equipped for compressed natural gas (CNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).
To provide increased operating range and fewer fuel stops during each shift, the FUSO FE GAS models also include a 40-gallon, rear-mounted fuel tank, connected to a streamlined fuel line and wiring harness routing and securement. The company notes that the latter features improve serviceability for the lifetime of the truck while protecting sensitive fuel and wiring lines from rubbing and chafing damage.
The FUSO FE GAS the only gasoline-powered truck FUSO makes, will only be available in the United States and Canada. The company is making the truck in the United States (with both foreign and domestic parts) with brand partner Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.
With the introduction of the new FUSO FE GAS truck, FUSO is offering its customers free oil changes for the first five years, 75,000 miles or as many as 10 oil changes. The user’s FUSO dealership also will provide a multi-point inspection with each oil change. The company also offers an extended warranty option for the Allison transmission at no additional cost, adding two years to the entire transmission warranty.
Both the 2019 FE GAS truck and the 2018 FE DIESEL have brand new interiors. FUSO upgraded to a heavy-duty driver’s seat with adjustable lumbar support. The seating fabric was upgraded to a more aesthetically pleasing black with leather effects, it says. Red seat belts were added for both looks and safety. The dash now features silver trim and the interior is illuminated with overhead LED lighting — all making the cab more modern and comfortable, FUSO says.
All 2019 model trucks come with Verizon Connect telematics, and FUSO will give customers the first 12 months of service free. BI