If there’s one thing the OEM’s of the trucking industry understand is that if they do not respond to market demands — someone else will respond. Two trends have emerged as the dominant trends in trucking: automatic transmissions and off-road-specific options.
The automatic transmission has been a growing trend for 24 months, as all of the major OEMs offer some variation in response to a trucking industry that needed to attract new drivers who might not have had the on-job training previous generations possessed coming into a job.
An easier to handle truck is more attractive to a new driver — it is also safer, and that’s attractive to fleet managers. So the second trend has emerged that puts new technology and engineering into trucks specifically designed for off-road and severe-service environments.
One of the fastest growing markets has been the off-road segment. Off-road has seen continued growth from the conventional segments and greater growth from unconventional variations within those segments. While mining and oil drilling have always been customers for off-road equipment, the oil boom of North America has sent a wave of demand through OEM plants.
Most recently, both Freightliner and Peterbilt showcased new options for their existing trucks that take them to a new level of off-road prowess.
Freightliner is showcasing several new options for its 122SD truck model that are aimed at severe-terrain and off-road applications. The new options include oil pan skid plates, 12-inch frame rails, threaded front suspension spring pins and bushing, and heavy-duty bolted cross-members. Front bumper mud flaps and fog lights with rock guards are also available as factory-installed options.
The 122SD can be configured for a variety of severe-duty applications, including oil and gas field services, concrete mixing, specialty, heavy-haul, crane, dump and towing/recovery. The truck boasts a GVWR of up to 92,000 pounds and a GCWR of up to 160,000 pounds. It is available with engines rated up to 600 horsepower and 2050 ft.-lbs. of torque and can be mated to various manual or automated manual transmissions.
Peterbilt is now offering a new all-wheel drive option to its Model 567, which means the company’s flagship vocational truck is work-ready for even tougher jobsites and more extreme terrains.
All-wheel drive is available for the Model 567 in a setback front axle configuration. It includes the Marmon-Herrington MT-22H front drive axle rated at 22,000 pounds and the Dana Spicer DS4636 drive axle rated at 46,000 pounds. It can be ordered with a range of auxiliary components, including transfer cases, to meet the full array of customer needs. Or, if customers prefer, the drive axle can be used in place of the transfer case.
The Peterbilt can even be adapted to alternative fuel use for off-road applications. This trend is another growing change that will impact the industry and force OEMs to again adapt of see others take market share.