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Opening Doors

Mack builds its share of the long-haul market.

By Rob Preston

Spring 2018

The introduction of the Anthem represents a big step forward for Mack Trucks, which launched its last major new highway product, the Mack Pinnacle, back in 2005. As the North American market leader in construction and refuse trucks, Mack is intent on building its share of the long-haul market, which accounts for about half of Class 8 truck sales. “Anthem is opening doors on the highway side of the business that have been closed to us for years,” says John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing.

As evidence that Mack intends to be a major player in that market, it invested more than US$84 million to overhaul the Lower Macungie factory where it builds the Mack Anthem and all of its other trucks for North America and export. The Anthem has been available as of January 2018 in three configurations: a 70-inch “stand-up” sleeper (a driver well over 6 feet tall can stand at the wheel and walk back to the sleeping compartment without having to duck); a 48-inch flat-top sleeper; and a day cab.

Big and bold, with strong shoulders, large square headlights, and a muscular grille (“It screams Mack Trucks,” Walsh says), the Anthem is nonetheless aerodynamic, delivering a 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the Pinnacle Axle Back model it replaces. When factoring in powertrain improvements, the fuel efficiency gain is about 9%, says Walsh, who notes that fuel efficiency is one of the main purchase considerations of freight haulers and other cost-conscious customers.

Another is uptime. The truck features Mack GuardDog Connect, a telematics service that monitors thousands of vehicle-performance data points and plugs back into the 600-person Mack OneCall uptime center at company headquarters in Greensboro, North Carolina. The Anthem’s modern interior, including a 5-inch, full-color dashboard screen for improved visibility and more-intuitive navigation, was designed based on extensive feedback from drivers—“for drivers, by drivers,” Walsh says.

Amid a severe shortage of drivers, particularly for Class 8 trucks, fleet managers are looking for comfortable, easy-to-operate, dependable trucks that will attract drivers and keep them happy. “Customers often tell us, ‘We’d buy more trucks if we could find people to drive them,’” says Neil Tolbert, Mack director of marketing communications.

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Photography By Paul S. Howell