Heavy Duty Trucking

OCT 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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62 HDT • OCTOBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com features, and a new 4-cylinder diesel with a 7-speed automatic transmission. New for 2015 in the U.S. is a Super High roof option that will add another 10 inches to an already tall profile, plus electronic crosswind-assist that uses au- tomatic selective braking to counter high lateral winds, and, in January, an on- demand four-wheel-drive with a 2-speed transfer case. Introduction of competitor prod- ucts from Ford and Ram have not hurt Sprinter sales, Tritt says, and show that "imitation is the highest form of flattery." 'Flexible' Transits Ford Motor began building its large unibodied Transit in June. It's been so well received that it's already pushed aside the venerable and class-leading E-series cargo van, says Yaro Hetman, brand manager. The E continues as cab-chassis and cutaway-cab versions, and probably will into 2019. All Transit models are made with high-strength steel "so they carry 600 pounds more in payload, and fuel economy is 46% better than the Econoline before it," he said. Transit production is ramping up toward the planned 58 variants. There are three roof heights and two wheel- bases, and two gasoline V-6 engines with a diesel coming later. So flexible is the Transit that "11 of the country's Olson is a preferred upfitter for the Sprinter, and there's also a Sprinter-based UDV (Ultimate Delivery Vehicle). Another collaboration is that of Isuzu Commercial Truck and Utilimaster, which provide the chassis and body, respectively, for the Reach walk-in van. It's as- sembled by Spartan Motors, which also does Isuzu's NPR Gas truck. Its high-volume, impact-resistant composite body features easy access for drivers, and the 3-liter diesel from the NPR EcoMax provides good performance and fuel economy. "We've sold a little over 4,000," says Brian Tabel, Isuzu's director of marketing, "the majority to FedEx Express," which finds the Reach's 640-cubic-foot body just right for many routes. UPS has also bought some. "We also have some retail customers, who use it for deliveries," he says. Euro unibodies Sprinter was the original provider (in 2001) of Euro-style unibody vans in North America. Sales of Freight- liner and Mercedes-Benz Sprinters are up 22% over last year, and up 35% in August, says Claus Tritt, general manager for operations. He notes that the Sprinter line last year got a major redesign, with new styling and safety Vans aplenty Most Isuzu-Utilimaster Reach vans deliver packages, but the Angels MLB team uses one to carry promotional merchandise and as a mo- bile billboard at Anaheim Stadium and other venues. Nissan's large body-on-frame NV 1500, 2500 HD and 3500 HD vans sales are up 21.9% over last year, with many being attributed to small business fleet purchases.

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