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Bold styling is a central focus for Mack’s Anthem. (image: Terry Costlow)

Mack hits the highway with style and technology

Mack Trucks is making a major play to increase its market share in long-haul commercial trucking with Anthem, which combines aerodynamics and modern technical features with Mack’s distinctive styling. The rollout is being supported by major investments in Mack’s manufacturing and customer service facilities.

The Anthem supports its stylistic appearance with improved fuel economy and a number of features designed to improve driver efficiency and comfort. Mack is making a big bet that Anthem can improve its 2% market share in long-haul trucking, supporting its huge rollout party by commissioning a country western song based on Mack’s Born Ready tagline.

Support for what Mack President Dennis Slagle called “one of the most significant new trucks in Mack’s 117-year history” goes well beyond theatrics. Mack’s parent, Volvo, invested $84 million in Mack’s Lehigh Valley, PA, operations facility over the past three years, largely to ramp up to produce the Anthem. Managers say the enlarged facility can make up to 150 trucks per day, up from only 55 when the factory was opened in 1975. Mack’s nearby customer center underwent a $3 million renovation.

In style and comfort

Mack styling is blended with aerodynamics that were developed with extensive modeling and wind tunnel testing at the Kennedy Space Center. This sleekness will improve mileage by up to 3% using a number of factors that reduce drag.

“The hood slopes up near the windshield to push the air up and over the cab,” said Stu Russoli, Highway Product Manager. “The hood mirrors are up nice and high; they’re in line with the side mirrors so they only have to go through the air once.”

Reducing downtime and improving efficiency and operator comfort are also primary factors. A 48-inch Flat Top Sleeper and a 70-inch Stand-Up Sleeper were designed to provide more space and comfort.

“The driving cab interior’s volume has been increased by 35%,” Russoli said. “The 70-inch sleeper is 8 inches taller—6 feet, 11 inches in the front and 7 feet, 1 inch in the rear. The cab has 27 cubic feet of storage.”

Lighting is also a focal point. LEDs are used for all interior and exterior lamps, with headlights that are 66% brighter than current bulbs. In the cab, there are six dome lights, light pipes and reading lamps above each door. Many of these lamps are dimmable.

The steering wheel, which features a flat-bottom design inspired by racecars, has eight switches for phone and cruise control as well as infotainment functions. An optional infotainment 7-inch touchscreen display gives drivers safe access to Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, weather band radio and TomTom truck navigation. The display is compatible with third-party back-up camera systems.

Mack also touted features designed to shorten pre-trip inspections. The hood latch has been simplified, with a single latch that operates like a passenger car hood instead of using two side latches. It takes 50% less effort to raise the hood. A pre-trip assist function will run through a series of checks for blinkers, brake lights, etc. so a single driver can perform this task.

Connectivity for efficiency, uptime

Mack is also employing several electronic technologies. Mack Predictive Cruise memorizes elevation on routes, storing data on up to 4500 hills. The system then looks at GPS data to determine gear shifts that will be needed for upcoming inclines. That will improve mileage by about 1%, according to Scott Barraclough, Project Manager.

The GuardDog Connect technology has been improved significantly. When fault codes warn of potential issues, the vehicle automatically calls Mack’s Uptime Center, which will provide the designated contact with information on the severity of the issue and provide advice and assistance such as the nearest dealer’s location. In some cases, warnings can occur before problems arise.

“We have tripled the number of codes we monitor; we now monitor 80 codes,” said David Pardue, Vice President of Connected Vehicles and Uptime Services. “We know which codes precede some errors.”

The service has shown substantial benefits throughout the Mack fleet.

“Over 60,000 vehicles already have GuardDog,” Pardue said. “It has reduced diagnostic time by an average of 70%, reduced repair time by an average of 21% and increased shop efficiency by 24% while reducing check-in time at repair centers by about 40 minutes.”

Mack is also offering over-the-air updates, providing the technology for free for two years. Vehicle software and some parameters can be updated without going into a shop.

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