In early 2019, Volvo Group, the parent company of Mack Trucks, started mysteriously posting job listings to hire engineers in the Salem/Roanoke area of Virginia. Volvo declined to comment about the job listings other than to say they would fulfill “future business needs”, but Jon Harris of the Morning Call predicted that Mack Trucks may be getting ready to reenter the medium-duty truck market to compete with Hino/Toyota and Freightliner.
Just a little over eleven months later, Harris was vindicated. Mack Trucks announced near the end of January 2020 that they are producing a new line of medium-duty commercial vehicles, a range of models called the Mack MD Series, in a manufacturing facility reworked to produce the new line of trucks.
At the same time that Mack announced the new MD Series of trucks, the company announced that they are investing $13 million to refit a currently existing 280,000 square foot facility in Roanoke Valley into a medium-duty truck building plant.
Of the $13 million, $700,000 is being funded by a grant from the state of Virginia, approved by Governor Ralph Northam in a bidding war between states to determine which state would obtain the plant and the 250 new jobs that come with it.
It is currently unknown where the specific location of the new facility is, but people from the Roanoke County area believe it may very well be the plant that previously belonged to LSC Communication, who had closed the facility’s doors in 2017. It certainly fits all of the criteria of the descriptions that Mack Trucks has given for their new facility.
“Mack Trucks is very proud to make this investment and to now offer a full lineup of Class 6 to Class 8 commercial vehicles, serving virtually every segment of the market,” said Mack Trucks president Martin Weissburg. “With this investment, Mack is well-positioned for future success, and we’re taking orders for the new truck beginning today.”
With demand for new heavy-duty trucks declining (quite possibly from the increase in supply of used big rigs), Mack is both downsizing its production team in Pennsylvania and starting a new one in Virginia, this time with a focus on building medium-duty trucks.
Mack Trucks did not disclose much information during their announcement, but they did there are currently plans for two models, a Class 6 model called the Mack MD6 and a Class 7 model called the Mack MD7. The MD6 will have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 25,995 pounds; the Mack MD7, 33,000 pounds. Both will have a bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) measurement of 103 inches, which is a very short BBC by industry standards. Additionally, both will only have a 4×2 configuration and will be exempt from the 12% Federal Excise Tax, both of which should ultimately make them cheaper for consumers.
The MD6 will not require a Commercial Drivers License for non-hazardous hauling.
With these new MD Series trucks, Mack hopes to have more coverage over the market while also offsetting the lower sales of new Class 8 vehicles. Medium-Duty trucks tend to be used for shipments that need more handing/turning capability than what a Class 8 vehicle can provide. The official release date for the new trucks has not yet been announced, but Mack has given a ballpark estimate of July 2020. Those interested in reserving an MD Series can contact their nearest Mack dealer.