NTEA’s Truck Product Conference showcased new vehicles and body builder conversions

This article was published in the November 2019 edition of NTEA News

The work truck industry came together at NTEA’s Truck Product Conference Sept. 17–18 to discover new model year vehicles and interact with representatives from 12 leading chassis manufacturers. Held at Suburban Collection Showplace (Novi, Michigan), the 2019 event drew hundreds from the commercial vehicle community, with a series of programs and displays. A full recap, including photos, is available at ntea.com/truckproductconference.

Tuesday, Sept. 17
Truck Product Conference kicked off with a program from Ram Commercial. An OEM representative reported the 2019 Ram 1500 was dubbed the most awarded light-duty truck in the U.S. and the 2020 Ram 1500 crew cab and certain 2019 crew models were the first full-size pickups to earn Top Safety Pick by Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

The 2019 Ram chassis-cab diesel has 43,000 pounds gross combined weight rating and 35,220 pounds of towing capacity. Presenters shared, in total, 2019 chassis-cab 3500/4500/5500 models feature 34 all-new product actions, with 13 class-exclusive safety actions. New items include an eight-speed transmission for gas engines and a limited model.

On the heavy-duty front, Ram’s 2019 pickup has 1,000 foot-pounds of torque (diesel), 7,680 pounds of payload (gas) and 35,100 pounds of towing capacity (diesel). The 2500/3500 models have 35 new features — 21 being class-exclusive. Representatives outlined the new eight-speed transmission (gas engine) and upgraded 6.7-liter Cummins diesel engine. In terms of design, there’s a new front end, tailgate, lamps, side steps, mirrors, running lights and interior. For towing and hauling, these trucks boast power-convex trailer-tow mirrors with 360-degree surround-view cameras, auxiliary trailer cameras, mirror-mounted rear locking spotlights, tire fill alert and a trailer-tire pressure monitor system. Ram’s team emphasized a commitment to safety on both pickup and chassis-cab models, pointing to the forward collision warning feature with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control that includes blind spot monitoring.

For 2020 model year trucks, new items include a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine for light-duty pickups; lane keep assist for heavy-duty pickups and chassis-cabs; trailer detection and a 50-gallon fuel tank option for heavy-duty pickups; and mud flaps for chassis-cabs.

Ram discussed its van lineup versatility as ProMaster and ProMaster City are used by operations of all sizes. For increased payload, new 10-foot cargo length configurations are being added to the 2020 ProMaster lineup in both standard and high roof-height categories.

The 2020 model year Ram body builder’s guide (to be posted in the fourth quarter of 2019) will feature a new upfitter controls section, including PTO programming and other material. Find body builder resources at ramtrucks.com.

Freightliner Trucks covered available options and features, with representatives focusing on the X12 engine for 114SD, which is 600 pounds lighter than its predecessor for extra fuel and payload. The OEM also shared safety systems are continuing to grow across its brand portfolio.

Freightliner Trucks team members explained DTNAConnect portal’s ability to improve the user experience. The electrical guide has been streamlined; legacy guides and body builder books are available in a user-friendly format; and there are significant updates to VIN coding information with added links to Cummins PTO control information.

The Detroit engine lineup was reviewed, with various choices and compatibility. When issues arise with these engines, a Detroit Connect Virtual Technician helps you find appropriate fault codes which can be sent to a fleet manager or service company to enable faster decisions on whether or not service is required. Fault codes are shared with DTNA support to pinpoint the closest dealer and facilitate issue resolution.

Freightliner Trucks overviewed its Custom Hardware and Electronics Configurator (CHEC), which has three user levels. This new software was designed to unlock the power of SmartPlex. It’s an online app that can be used to program your vehicle with customized logic. 

Access CHEC resources at dtnaarc.com. Freightliner body builder materials are available at dtnaconnect.com.

Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. described a series of Class 3–6 product updates.

For 2019 N-gas, the team reviewed new Yokohama and Goodyear tire options for NPR-HD; standard crew cab rear floor mats; and a vacuum pump and pulley (new pulley will extend an additional 25.35 millimeters into front accessory drive space). In terms of the 2020 model, tires will reflect reduced rolling resistance for fuel economy improvement; a new 6.6-liter engine will be mated to the same transmission; and there’s a higher-capacity fuel tank, improved steering angle and back-of-cab extension.

According to representatives, the 2020 N-diesel features automatic transmission changes that improve fuel economy, drivability and quality; a tire change for reduced rolling resistance; standard crew cab rear floor mats; and standard air conditioning.

For the 2020 FTR, a compressor change helps improve air output quality by approximately 33%; an air dryer decreases excess purge valve noise; and a rear axle update reduces weight by 86 pounds. Other enhancements include factory options for a 50-gallon aluminum fuel tank and low-profile tires (approximately 2.4-inch frame height reduction), in addition to a cab latch switch and indicator with buzzer. The 2021 FTR offers suspension capacity of 23,000 pounds.

Isuzu discussed its focus on safety, with release of optional Mobileye technology that offers forward collision, pedestrian collision and lane departure warning as well as headway monitoring and warning.

Find body builder materials at isuzutruckservice.com.

General Motors Fleet reviewed a variety of changes to the Chevrolet low cab forward. For 2020 3500/4500 gas models, the OEM inserted a cab tilt warning sensor; replaced tires on the 3500 for lower rolling resistance and fuel economy savings; transitioned from a 6.0- to 6.6-liter engine; and added a receptacle for the engine block and oil pan heater that eliminates loose-hanging cord.

Looking at 2020 updates on the diesel side, for 4500HD/XD and 5500HD/XD, General Motors offers a standard rear floor mat for crew cabs (also standard on gas trucks); standard air conditioning (now common with the low cab forward gas and 6500XD); new cold weather pack; and Aisin transmission allowing for lower gear command when acceleration is required. For the 2021 4500HD/5500XD, there’s a new left-side diesel aluminum fuel tank, available in 35- or 55-gallon capacities, that deletes the rear tank. The 2020 6500XD features new Alcoa aluminum wheel options, touchscreen radio, cold weather packs and an oil pan heater, with a new air suspension option coming for 2021. Mobileye technology is available on all models, including forward collision warning, lane departure warning, headway monitoring and warning, pedestrian collision warning and speed limits.

The 2020 Silverado/Sierra HD has an all-steel body, apart from the Sierra MultiPro aluminum tailgate. There’s a new larger cab structure for all LD models, and trailering mirrors come standard with all trims. The new pickup box is 6.75 inches wider, with a longer standard box and lower rail height for trailering ease. There are 12 welded tie-downs (three in each corner rated for 500 pounds each and nine additional optional tie-downs for 250 pounds each); improved LED box lighting; and a standard box side step. In addition to a new 6.6-liter V8 gas engine option, representatives highlighted a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 with an Allison 10-speed transmission that delivers integrated direct-drive PTO (chain-driven instead of gear-driven). Integrated PTO (right side only) is offered on 2500 and 3500 models and is tied to the cruise-control option. PTO must be ordered at the time of vehicle order for factory installation (retrofit capability is not offered). Pickup and chassis-cab frames are new but have a similar design with longer wheelbase than the previous generation (up to 5 inches longer).

For the 2021 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, a new 6.6-liter engine is expected to deliver a 17% increase in power and 24% boost in peak torque as compared to the current 6.0-liter engine. Get body builder information at gmupfitter.com.

Mercedes-Benz USA presented the latest product information and 2020 model lineup. Representatives covered Sprinter’s new 4-cylinder gas and 6-cylinder diesel engine options. In terms of safety and assistance, new features include a reversing camera with parking package that contains a 360-degree camera, attention assist, active brake assist and active distance assist. Other new items include an electrical parking brake, wet wiper system, multimedia system, electrically-folding exterior mirrors, plastic floor for cargo area, instrument cluster with color display, intelligent navigation, electrical sliding door, rear doors opening to side wall, LED high-performance headlamps, satellite radio, and painted metallic front and rear bumper. For 2020, PV/CV models have a 144-inch wheelbase with standard roof, and CA models have the same wheelbase dimension with standard roof and windows in the rear side wall without a partition.

The team explained Sprinter is the data supplier for strategic initiatives related to Mercedes Pro — a cloud-based fleet management tool and app support. According to the OEM, “The professional connectivity and fleet solutions connect companies with their vehicles, increase both efficiency and productivity, and lead to minimized and plannable downtimes as a consequence of forward-thinking maintenance management and clearly prepared data for business management analysis.”

Reviewing the 2020 Metris, there’s an optional Mercedes Pro communication module, standard Mercedes Pro pre-wiring, newly designed instrument cluster, five new exterior colors and 17-inch wheel rims. Metris has a single roof height and offers 126- and 135-inch wheelbases.

New technical bulletins and Body Equipment Guide updates are coming soon. Access Mercedes-Benz USA body builder details at upfitterportal.com.

Wednesday, Sept. 18

Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation shared up-to-date technical content on its most recent vehicle models.

In 2020, an Optiview instrument panel will become available. According to the OEM, “We want to make it simple for the driver — no distractions.” This update shows vehicle speed, fuel levels, reverse and overhead clearance, and navigation, with fewer screens. Pop-ups will appear if the driver needs to take action.

Representatives shared in 2020, MT-45 and MT-55 CNG will be equipped with a side-mount fuel system and carbon fiber tank, for range of up to 200 miles.

For S2G, the OEM’s fully integrated commercial propane truck, there’s a new 8.8-liter DriveForce engine option that’s in production now. This engine is low-speed, resulting in less noise, heat and vibration.

The audience learned there will be a new steering column in 2021, with additional controls and improved functionality. Other updates include a new headline switch (there’s currently no exterior light activation).

The team indicated they’re working on their first electric vehicle launch of MT-45 and MT-55 chassis, with a GVWR range of 17,000–23,000 pounds. Start of production is slated for 2021. Visit fccccommercial.com for more information.

Hino Trucks began with a brand update, showcasing the OEM’s commitment to the ultimate ownership experience. Toyota Motor North America Inc. joined Hino for a combined display with Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, showcasing 2019 Tundra and Tacoma models.

Hino presenters highlighted the five-year powertrain warranty for 2020 Class 6–8 conventional trucks. According to the OEM, these trucks have “real-life reliability, and the warranty to prove it.”

The team reviewed a series of 2021 Hino enhancements. For Class 4–5 cab-over-engine models, representatives outlined a new grill design, LED headlights, an active safety system option, new six-speed transmission and enhanced interior (including a driver’s seatbelt sensor and gauge cluster enhancements).

Reviewing Class 6–7 conventional product, there’s a new grill design; LED headlights; lower air spoiler; new wheelbase options; extended cab and crew cab options (no suspension); and active safety system option. Carried over from Hino XL Series, the new interior features an integrated shifter and cupholder; steering wheel controls for information display, cruise settings and air horn; a 7-inch large display in the gauge cluster; two fast-charging, 2.1-amp USB ports; versatile din space; increased storage; more leg room; improved occupant comfort; and driver’s seatbelt sensor.

In terms of the Class 7–8 XL Series, there are optional cab lengths (an additional 30 inches for extended cab and 44.8 inches for crew cab); a CAN line body communication change making the harness no longer necessary for connectivity; adaptive cruise control included in active safety system; driver’s seatbelt sensor; and snowplow package with front frame extension.

Body builder resources are available at hinobodybuilder.com.

International Truck outlined recent and upcoming changes slated for its commercial vehicle lineup.

CV, the OEM’s new Class 4–5 truck, was covered in detail. Representatives emphasized the importance of choosing the proper speed governor at time of order as this can’t be changed with diagnostic software. CV Series can be configured with two bucket seats for space to mount body controls or an aftermarket console in between seats. New features include left-side PTO access on all trucks, auxiliary switch pack (provides six additional switches in headliner for body builder integration), no-spin Eaton locking differential, side curtain and thorax air bags (standard for 2020 vehicles), custom colors and standard exhaust brake. Upcoming enhancements include 102-inch body width mirrors, dual AC compressors, standard stability and trailer sway control, and standard manual regeneration.

Representatives addressed MV improvements, including clean cab-to-axle for multiple wheelbase configurations with a right-side fuel tank (50- and 70-gallon options) and LiquidSpring Smart Suspension. There’s an exterior grab handle for HV Series, and HX Series offers front frame extensions for the snowplow and online REPTO shaft installation. For HV and HX, air disc brakes come standard on the front axle (rear axles are optional); other features include galvanized rails and twin steer.

The team detailed Diamond Logic®, an electrical system using multiplex technology to provide control and communication between major functional areas of a vehicle, including the body. It streamlines truck chassis and body equipment integration and performance, allowing users to customize program equipment parameters among a set of predetermined tasks. Diamond Logic includes ergonomic switches positioned for driver comfort and productivity; fewer connectors; increased customization options to connect truck and body functionality; onboard diagnostics; 40% reduction in wiring; and task automation. Visit bodybuilder.navistar.com for body builder information.

Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc. covered the latest technical details (including chassis designs, specifications and body installation/equipment mounting options) on its vehicle models.

Representatives reviewed FE and FG diesel models, which feature a newly designed interior, heavy-duty driver’s seat, adjustable lumbar support, upgraded LED interior lighting, high-visibility red seat belts and an optional Mobileye Collision Avoidance System. There’s a VIN and model decoder that now includes the wheelbase. On both models, Duonic AMT offers an aftermarket power takeoff option.

The team outlined aspects of FE gas, including a new engine; 19.5-inch wheels/tires; and single-caliper, four-wheel disc brakes. In addition, there’s an auxiliary compressor/refrigeration mounting kit. FE gas has a rear underrun protection device (i.e., bumper) that must be installed to the end of frame for chassis-cab operation on public roadways (until a rear impact guard which meets Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations is applied, generally as part of a rear body).

The all-electric eCanter was another point of discussion as representatives overviewed high- and low-voltage wiring. There are two charging systems — normal (eight hours) and quick (one to two hours). Range is 60–80 miles. Visit mitfuso.com for the latest body builder information.

Ford Commercial Vehicles presented product updates, stating all new commercial vehicles come equipped with modems that connect up to 10 devices. A new 7.3-liter gasoline V8 engine is available on medium-duty, E-Series and F-53/F-59 models, replacing a 6.8-liter V10 and 6.2-liter V8. It has a six-speed automatic transmission, optional gaseous fuel prep package and two unique calibrations exclusive to E-Series.

Addressing 2021 medium-duty product, the team reviewed new standard safety features, including traction control, Hill Start Assist (on hydraulic brake units), auto headlight activation and optional electronic stability control. Additional updates involve new interior elements; optional Smart Driver-Assist Technology package; electrical system architecture; standard fleet telematics modem; standard AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth and USB port; lower rolling resistance tires; dual alternators on gas; Upfitter Interface Module; and RapidHeat cab pre-heater.

Ford discussed the 2021 E-Series with optional Smart Driver-Assist Technology package; freshened interior; new electrical system architecture; standard fleet telematics modem; standard AM/FM stereo, Bluetooth and USB port; standard 78-amp-hour battery and 210-amp alternator; optional 240-amp heavy-duty alternator; dual alternator; and Upfitter Interface Module.

Representatives covered changes to the 2020 F-53 and F-59. New standard safety features are Hill Start Assist, auto headlight activation provision and optional electronic stability control. These vehicles offer new electrical system architecture; standard fleet telematics modem; F-53 suspension package for improved handling and increased center of gravity build capability; common brake hardware across all chassis; tilt/telescoping steering column and wheel; instrument cluster; and optional 240-amp heavy-duty alternator. 

The 2020 SuperDuty has a new 7.3-liter gas V8 powertrain and 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission with up to 300 foot-pounds of torque.

New items for 2020 Transit include standard automatic emergency braking, other driver-assist technologies, engine and fuel economy features, standard 10-speed transmission, instrument panel for improved ergonomics/storage, connected services for fleet management and all-wheel drive. Find body builder books at fordbbas.com.

Western Star Trucks covered a series of enhancements to 4700/5700, including the Cummins X12 12-liter engine (600 pounds lighter than ISX12) that offers increased payload, longer maintenance intervals for uptime and ease of upfit for body builders. The Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission provides enhanced fuel economy, active driveline protection and safety features, and comes with multiple PTO options.

Other updates were discussed, such as improved in-cab back wall connections, in-dash USB, remote start/stop prewire, new switch options, new automated transmission steering column shift selector with engine break control, lane departure warning, new door panels with grab handle, optional dash indicator lights, third-party telematics prewire, remote throttle control, collision mitigation, automatic traction control switch, and automatic headlights when wipers are engaged.

A new multifunction steering wheel (featuring cruise control, radio, headlight flasher, phone and dash menus) puts more control and access at the driver’s fingertips. An in-dash body power distribution module delivers added capacity for more switches, relays and fuse positions for body builders; clears space between seats; offers separate switch and relay power for the body; and is located in the dash for better protection and easy access. Front wall power and ground access allows added interface points throughout the vehicle for ground interfacing, enabling easier body builder upfits. New brackets space the air and electrical lines away from the frame, resulting in cleaner rail routings and minimized chafing of hoses and harness.

Find body builder information at westernstartrucks.com/bodybuilderbook.

Did you miss the event or want more information? 
NTEA's Director of Technical Services Bob Raybuck will present an in-depth recap of key information presented at the 2019 Truck Product Conference on Nov. 20, 2019. Learn more and register.

Looking for more from chassis manufacturers? Register today for The Work Truck Show® 2020, featuring updates from 17 OEMs.