New model chassis and upfitter conversions outlined at NTEA’s Truck Product Conference

This article was published in the November 2017 edition of NTEA News.

Work truck industry professionals studied chassis options for the next model year and connected with OEM engineers at NTEA’s Truck Product Conference.

Held Sept. 26–28 at Sheraton Detroit Novi Hotel (Novi, Michigan), the 2017 event showcased programs and displays from 10 leading chassis manufacturers — in addition to special demonstrations from IHS Markit (statistical and lead generation capabilities) and VRSim (simulation training platforms).

Tuesday, Sept. 26

International Truck launched the event by discussing plans to release a new model every four to six months for the next two to three years.

The company listed safety features added to DuraStar (covers all medium-duty applications), such as Bendix air disc brakes for increased stopping distance. Specialty options include fire/rescue ratings, stationary operation, clean cab-to-axle packaging and PTO clearances. There are low-cab (standard on 4300) and mid-cab (standard on 4400/optional on 4300) height alternatives. An improved vertical step pipe will be available soon, in addition to wider steps that accommodate rear door access.

International representatives introduced HV Series — a collection of five new models. Cab layout reflects the DriverFirst program (designed to enhance operating safety, driver productivity and business efficiency). Updates to the one-piece doorframe include a new ergonomic style and standard storage pockets. The steering wheel has been reconstructed for more functionality (like radio control). Customers can select a column-mounted shifter for easy reach and operation of the transmission. The new International A26 engine comes standard; a single-variable geometry turbocharger makes it extremely light and quiet. OnCommandConnection — a telematics and remote diagnostic tool — offers detailed data in real-time.

The all-wheel drive WorkStar will feature the Fabco® FSD axle (rated at 20,000 pounds) and a super single frame rail. Circuit breakers come standard, and a manual reset makes it easy to diagnose issues.

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General Motors Fleet reviewed key changes to its product portfolio.

Presenters shared updates to the gas model lineup: a brake apply sensor to accommodate on-board diagnostic requirements; final gear ratio adjustment for improved fuel economy; and enhanced electronic pedal override. Other improvements include shift interlock, driver’s side seatbelt warning and park brake alarm. For both gas and diesel trucks, the base radio is being replaced by a Bluetooth radio and improved microphone; a radio reverse mute feature is now standard.

For Silverado and Sierra models, rear cameras are standard on all 2018 pickups. Box deletes and chassis-cabs continue to be prewired to the vehicle rear. Upfitters can install an OEM or aftermarket camera; calibration is necessary for the truck to recognize a camera is present.

The new Colorado and Canyon come equipped with a smart tow feature for greater driver rearward vision. General Motors is changing its approach to CNG and LNG, offering the 6.0-liter (LC8) hardened engine as a regular production option for use with aftermarket CNG and LPG systems. Power Solutions International is its specialty vehicle modifier for gaseous fuel systems.

OEM representatives presented crossovers as viable commercial vehicle alternatives. The 2018 Traverse has a 5-percent increase in passenger volume; 6-percent uptick in cargo space; and larger, truck-sized center console storage. Two fleet-specific packages will be available.

The company detailed new items for 2018 Express and Savana: more functional headlamps; new grill treatment; rear vision camera for all models 10,000 pounds and below (optional side blind zone alert); OnStar; and a new security bar with side windows on cargo vans. Electronic stability control (Stabilitrak) is being added to all dual rear wheel cutaways, and spray-in liners are now available.

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Wednesday, Sept. 27

Hino Trucks discussed its connected vehicle lineup, emphasizing its new Certified Ultimate dealer program and Insight package offering telematics, remote diagnostics and case management.

For 2018 conventional models, the rear shock upper mount has been relocated. There is an extension harness for air tank pressure sensors and suspension dump valves; a 3000 RDS transmission option; two or three EnerSys battery choices; and a battery disconnect switch and jump-start stud.

Hino outlined several modifications for the 2019 model year. A van light circuit and switch option reduces installation time; a harness will be available in all cab-over-engine chassis. A PTO switch assembly streamlines the setup process with a prewired switch in the cab (includes programming options for plug and play). Additional vocational signals are available for the aft cab, and new interface points are positioned behind the cab and at end of frame.

Hino’s 2019 conventional chassis feature wider cab entry steps (gaining about 1.5 inches); a 3 AGM battery option; common cowl harness connectors (making both 10 pins); increased amount of fuel available before triggering the E-lamp on fuel level indicator; FuelSense 2.0 (6-percent better fuel consumption than FuelSense 1.0); and exterior grab handles available on driver and passenger sides.

During the program, Hino announced the release of Project Frontier — its entry into the heavy-duty realm. This model has 300–360 horsepower; 12,000–18,000-pound front axle capacity; and manual or automatic transmission options.

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Toyota Motor North America Inc. joined Hino for a combined display with Freightliner Trucks, showcasing the 2017 Tacoma and 2018 Tundra models.

Freightliner Trucks delivered insight into issues affecting body and equipment installation. Speakers addressed launch of the Hendrickson FMO20 lift axle for the refuse market; enhanced engine compartment lighting for greater visibility and hands-free operation; 515 coverage for Tridem suspensions; dual-side adjustable hood-mounted mirrors; a righthand aft tank for specific routing of fuel lines; DANA 590 double-reduction rear axle; and trailer wiring provisions with hydraulic brakes. An auxiliary function range inhibit feature locks the transmission when equipment is in use and the vehicle is not in gear. Freightliner Trucks offers RP170 body builder connectors that standardize the electrical interface; idle shutdown with audible alarm; RPL20 driveline (reduces overall maintenance costs); front frame extension tow hooks; and yellow grab handles.

The main focus of Freightliner’s presentation was its all-new medium-duty engine lineup. In collaboration with Detroit Diesel Corporation, the OEM is offering DD5 (an engine already on the market) and DD8 (scheduled for release in early 2018). These engines have a B10 life of 400,000 miles; lengthy maintenance intervals; and variable exhaust cam phasing to increase exhaust temperatures for effective diesel particulate filter regeneration in all conditions.

DD5 has a 5.1-liter capacity and two power ratings, while DD8 is 7.7 liters and comes with two additional cylinders. The OEM announced Detroit Connect Virtual Technician will come standard on DD5 and DD8 for three years, allowing end users to make informed service decisions within minutes of an engine or after-treatment fault. During the program, attendees saw a live demonstration tracking a vehicle connected in the field. Fault code access is available via the Detroit Connect portal; parameters can be set remotely.

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Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation discussed significant product updates. A representative shared the Cummins 2017 ISB after-treatment system has been applied to the MT line, with an optional inboard design for MT55. The 6.0-liter gas engine cooling system environment features a simple overflow bottle (instead of a surge tank), new reinforced radiator top tank with an integral fill neck, and coolant system pressure of 16 pounds per square inch. Shocks are tuned for optimum ride, comfort and improved roll stability. Disc brakes have been enhanced with large pad volume, allowing longer replacement intervals. Diesel, gasoline and CNG alternatives are available. ProTek telematics can deliver vehicle diagnostics on a daily basis.

Attendees learned the company offers the DD5 Detroit diesel engine — a fuel-efficient design. The Allison FuelSense package will be applied to all MT chassis starting in January 2018. A digital instrument cluster will give drivers situation-based information; features include a simple screen, easy navigation, adaptive cruise control, low fuel alert, transmission temperature warning, reverse and proximity sensors with beep, and lane departure and collision mitigation technology. The SmartTracTM brake system comes with innovation to optimize stability, steerability and traction, automatically accommodating for dangerous road conditions. Special safety precautions include adaptive cruise control to help drivers maintain appropriate distance between vehicles. The ultracapacitor has a two-terminal plug-and-play, replaces one group 31 battery, installs just like a battery and requires no rewiring. These improvements increase performance and reliability, steady bus voltage, and provide energy and quick recharge capabilities.

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation mentioned the S2G propane chassis — a model with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 24,000–33,000 pounds and an 8.0-liter engine.

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Ram Commercial discussed the latest chassis specifications and issues influencing body and equipment installation. The OEM is in growth mode (73 dealers added so far in 2017), with plans to raise production capacity to record levels to meet demand.

Company representatives identified ProMaster as a versatile option — available in four variations (cargo van, chassis-cab, cutaway and window van). Bailment pools and fleets will be able to order the ProMaster window van as an incomplete vehicle. ProMaster City has an upfit connector to ease the integration process by providing access to common electrical circuits. Ram recently released an app that configures a variety of upfits in a user-friendly format.

The OEM mentioned a number of product enhancements, including Security Gateway Module — designed to protect 2018 model year vehicles by isolating unauthenticated communication. Many Ram models conform to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 111 rear visibility requirements. The heavy-duty field box removal camera adapter enables field removal of pickup boxes/tailgates. The adapter will allow connection of the Mopar loose ship cable/camera to pickup truck wiring.

Attendees learned about FCA Q-Pro — a mark of excellence qualification program that is open to everyone and adds value to commercial upfits by promoting high standards, regulatory compliance and continuous improvement. Q-Pro resides within the Ram team and is aligned with truck and van engineering, ensuring access to technical support. Qualifications are reviewed on a regular basis to assure sustained performance and continual conformance. Q-Pro is designed to promote and protect product quality and brand image, add OEM credibility to the upfitter process and serve as a marketing tool.

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Thursday, Sept. 28

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. updated attendees on its medium-duty product lineup.

The OEM described the gas NPR and NPR HD, which feature 12,000–14,500-pound GVWR and come in single- and crew-cab styles. There are two diesel engines, in addition to options for gasoline, CNG and LPG.

Representatives shared several optional features will become standard for the 2018 model year. A new radio (with Bluetooth capability, USB iPod compatibility, reverse mute function and integrated microphone) will be adopted for N-diesel and N-gas lines. In addition, a rear body dome lamp switch will come standard on all N-Series and FTR chassis for 2018 and 2019 model years.

The company discussed changes to its 2018 model year N-gas, integrating innovation already present across its diesel models. The ECM is switching from E38 (a discontinued version) to E78. This transition triggers additional movement, including changes to the air intake ducting and brake apply sensor. The electronic brake pedal override has been enhanced to align with the OEM’s safety strategy and limit axle torque when the brake and accelerator pedals are applied simultaneously. Final gear ratios have changed to improve fuel economy by an average of 3 percent as compared to the 2017 model year. A keyless entry system will be optional.

Attendees learned about the Class 6 FTR. Engineered and assembled in the U.S., the 2018 model year will have a 25,950-pound GVWR and utilize Isuzu’s turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. The 2019 model year will have a 152- to 248-inch wheelbase, aluminum fuel tank, smaller diameter turning radius, secondary air tank toward the vehicle front, and 50- or 100-gallon aluminum fuel tanks. The interior will offer the same great visibility and dash layout as N-Series; the center seat has a fold-down work surface and additional storage. There’s an optional fire extinguisher and triangle kit; behind-seat storage (with room for extra seat recline); overhead compartment space; and standard floor mats. FTR body mounting is similar to the N-Series; this model comes with three preinstalled body mount locations.

Visit to access Isuzu’s body builder guide and frontal area calculator.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc. outlined changes to its product lineup.

Representatives explained that gasoline options are being added to the mix for many of the company’s 2018 model year chassis (including E, G, H and K wheelbase formats). While most product updates are direct carryover from the 2017 model year, there are numerous new elements. The OEM is providing heightened cold weather engine performance; improved turbocharger gate control; a diesel exhaust fluid tank cover; an upgraded driver’s seat with more padding, contouring and lumbar support, in addition to collision avoidance technology; and increased corrosion protection.

Attendees learned the aftermarket power takeoff is supplied by Muncie Power Products. Maximum intermittent duty torque is 126 foot-pounds, and maximum continuous duty torque is 88 foot-pounds.

Mitsubishi Fuso discussed its recently debuted eCanter, an all-electric CL4 model. This vehicle, designed for inner city operation, offers a 60–100-mile range (depending on load) and regenerative braking.

Gas-powered FE single- and crew-cab models will be released as part of the 2018 model year. These vehicles include an Allison transmission (a natural gas conversion is available).

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Ford Commercial Vehicles concluded the Truck Product Conference, overviewing the latest vehicle line innovations.

The company clarified, for F-650 and F-750, electronic stability control on air brake vehicles will become standard on tractors and optional on F-750 non-tractors. The diesel engine and all trans dipsticks have been relocated for ease of access. In the near future, frame holes will be offered for gaseous fuel prep packages; the cluster will omit fuel economy calculations for alternative fuels; and a center-mounted cup holder will be available.

Presenters emphasized Super Duty’s high-strength, military-grade aluminum alloy cab/box and fully-boxed, high-strength steel frame. Smart features include adaptive steering/lane-keeping alert; trailer reverse guidance; adaptive cruise control with collision mitigation; a trailer tire pressure monitoring system; and tailgate lock/release. Frame extensions can increase the axle-to-end-frame dimension to 89.4 inches. An upfitter interface module can operate aftermarket-installed equipment with up to nine digital input signals; programming can be saved and replicated across a Super Duty fleet. Rearview cameras will come standard on pickups to align with FMVSS 111. A premium Super Duty line with luxury upgrades will be available for the 2018 model year. 

OEM representatives said the 2018 Transit Connect comes with an ejection mitigation system. Cargo vans will feature revised front-side air curtains; factory lift metal mesh panels will be included in models with side barn doors. The Transit will have high-strength laminated glass in the second row. High-mount rearview cameras come standard on medium- and high-roof vans. Interior changes include a glove box lock; rear cargo door interior release and pull handle for cargo vans; and D-pillar weld nuts for medium- and high-roof cargo vans. Options range from D-pillar grab handles for medium- and high-roof cargo vans to heavy-duty cargo van flooring with scuff kits, charcoal leather pack with heated seats and pushdown park brake.

Ford outlined its Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program, indicating increased emphasis on regulatory compliance and upfitter communication. A new extension of this program is eQVM — engaging companies that work with electrified and hydraulic hybrid powertrains.

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Visit for a full recap of the 2017 event, including photos and links to available chassis manufacturer presentations.