Chevy re-entered the medium-duty market with the 4500 and two other trucks.

Medium, light duty truck markets heat up

GM re-enters market as several OEMs roll out new models.

A host of new light- and medium-duty truck rollouts are increasing competition and giving vocational truck customers a broader range of options. OEMs are focused on improving customer comfort and making it simpler for upfitters to customize vehicles.

General Motors made a big splash at the NTEA Work Truck Show early this month by it re-entering the medium-duty market with three Silverado models in the Class 4-6 range. GM hasn’t been in the segment since 2009, the year of its bankruptcy.

The 4500HD, 5500HD, and 6500HD were designed to be upfitted quickly. It has a single-piece frame and seven cab-to-axle options ranging from 60 to 162 in (1524 to 4115 mm). Fuel lines run through the frame, and huck bolts on the bottom of the frame help keep the top clean.

“We talked to many upfitters; they all said the top of the frame is their space,” said John Schwegman, U.S. Director of Commercial Product for GM Fleet. “Our frame is a single-piece, straight frame, with no rivets, brackets or welds to get in their way.”

Two- and four-wheel drive versions have a 350-hp (261-kW), 6.6-L Duramax diesel engine with 700 lb·ft (949 N·m) of torque. Allison transmissions are standard, while a power take off option is available.

The line also offers connectivity, with Commercial Link, OnStar and a 4G hot spot. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are supported.

Elsewhere at the show in Indianapolis, International addressed the Class 6/7 with its MV line, which was designed for driver comfort and seamless integration with many body solutions. It was developed as part of International’s Project Horizon product refresh program. Its frame features pre-drilled holes that speed customization.

 “We offer custom frame piercing that comes from the factory,” said Jeff Sass, International’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. These pierced holes tell people where to install the body, that lets them install the body quicker.”

The Diamond Logic electrical system provides a link between chassis and body controls and vehicle operators. Pedestal mirrors let drivers move their head from 5 to 15 % less, which means a lot less fatigue for drivers, Sass noted. Drivers also have 4% improved visibility to the front and side.

In the light truck arena, Fuso unveiled gas-powered Class 4/5 trucks that deploy a GM 6.0L V8 engine and Allison 1000 automatic transmission. The FE GAS trucks’ interior offers driver seat bolstering, revised instrument cluster colors for improved visibility and additional storage space.

Ram Trucks focused on electronics in its 1500 Tradesman, adding more than 100 safety features including lane departure, front collision warning systems and 360-degree surround view cameras. Its frame is strengthened by using 98% high strength steel and a body that is built with 54% high strength steel. Even with the extensive use of steel, the 2019 model is 225 lb (102 kg) lighter than its predecessor.  

Electric trucks modified by a range of companies also highlighted the trend away from fossil fuels. Isuzu showed an electric version of its N-Series truck that was converted by Nordresa, a Canadian producer of electrified powertrains. Ford showed three vehicles produced by participants in its Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program, which was announced at last year’s show. Ford promoted vehicles upfitted by XL Hybrids, Motiv Power Systems, and Lightning Systems. 

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