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2024 Work Truck Update: Vans, pickups, and chassis cabs

May 13, 2024
Across the board, manufacturers of Classes 3-6 commercial vans, pickups, and trucks are packing their newest models with the latest technologies.

This is Part One of a two-part story. To read Part Two, click here.

Today’s work trucks and vans are getting packed by OEMs with more technology than ever before, all in the name of improving safety, productivity, efficiency, and driver comfort. Streamlining maintenance is a cost-saving goal as well.

Manufacturers have also made significant upgrades to vehicle exteriors and interiors, focusing on body integration and upfitter friendliness to allow easier customizations for the work truck sector, where vehicles are asked to perform countless jobs in nearly every industry. The variations from one vocational truck to another are endless. Likewise, the stream of new innovations from manufacturers, OEs, and suppliers never seems to stop, either.

These innovations present both a challenge for manufacturers and an opportunity for commercial vehicle users. The OEMs say they are firmly focused on customer success and partnering with other companies who can bring the best technologies, products, systems, and solutions to the table. Only time and road miles will prove which are the best, but here we can at least provide what to expect in the coming year in respect to the latest vans, pickups, trucks, and chassis cabs.

Vans

Last-mile delivery has proven that electrification works now, especially due to last-mile delivery vehicles’ daily routes, which are amenable to EV battery capacities and returning home for charging at night. According to CALSTART’s Zeroing in on ZETs (Zero-emission trucks) 2024 update, electric cargo vans account for 80% of the 17,500 ZETs deployed. That’s a 0.39% market share, but OEMs have made electric vans a point of focus.

Ford Pro developments include 26% more range on electric E-Transit low-roof vans and 32% more on high-roof models, according to Kevin Lieberum, Ford Pro commercial truck brand manager. New dual onboard chargers for the vans are available on 2024 models as well.

“The additional range and faster charging create new opportunities for more industries and vocations to use the electric vans,” Lieberum said. “Faster charging and additional range support covering longer distances and unlock solutions for new use cases, like refrigerated delivery.”

Additionally, the Pro Power Onboard system that is now available across the E-Transit van lineup provides 2.4 kW of power and is operable while the vehicle is in motion and while charging, enabling users to plug in a laptop, tools, or other equipment on the go or at the jobsite.

With the commercial vehicle space accounting for so much of Stellantis global revenue—one-third—the OEM has, like Ford with Ford Pro, created its own dedicated business, Stellantis Pro One. At NTEA’s Work Truck Week in March, Stellantis also announced the creation of a North American business unit called Ram Professional to take on the light commercial vehicle leader Ford, while also competing more in the medium-duty space, where it has less than 7% market share.

Jeff Kommer, the new Ram Professional commercial sales SVP, said his bosses gave him one clear mission: “Go and crush Ford Motor Company, and let’s become the No. 1 LCV machine on the planet.”

As part of this plan, Ram Professional plans to spend nearly $32 billion by 2025 on electrification and associated software, unveiling the Ram ProMaster EV, which offers a targeted range of up to 162 miles in city driving. The cargo version features a 1.5 ton payload and the delivery version will have a little over 1 ton. The conventional 2024 ProMaster offers 4,680 lbs. of payload and can tow 6,910 lbs.

The 200-kw electric drive powertrain can supply 268 hp and 302 ft.-lb. of torque. The cargo model will have 159-in. wheelbases, and customers can choose 12-ft. or 13-ft. cargo lengths. Available for order now, the new van also includes driver comfort and safety features such as a heated steering wheel and heated windshield.

Technological advancements for Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans include Parking Package with 360-degree cameras, a Digital Rear View Mirror, Blind Spot Assist including Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and an improved Active Brake Assist system, reported Iain Forsyth, director of product management and marketing at Mercedes-Benz Vans USA. The new Class 3 vans also feature the Moving-Off Information Assist with 360-degree 3D Surround View cameras.

“Our new Anti-Theft Protection Package provides comprehensive protection for the vehicle and cargo,” Forsyth said. “Additionally, digital enhancements through Mercedes me connect, such as geofencing and a vehicle locator, provide vehicle monitoring and fleet security for customers.”
The Anti-Theft Protection Package on Sprinter vans includes a Security Alarm, Interior Motion System, and Tow-Away Protection. The system is armed automatically when the radio remote control is operated, and its battery-powered horn is not accessible from outside of the vehicle and is independent of the on-board power supply.

Fleets can manage Sprinter maintenance and track vehicle data via the Mercedes me connect app.

At General Motors, the Chevy Express and GMC Savana are expected to be discontinued after 2025, with an electric van taking their place in 2026.

Pickups

In the pickups space, GM is rolling out the Chevy Silverado EV 4WT, which the OEM says has the best range in its segment at 450 miles, with a towing capacity of 10,000 lbs. The Ford F-150 Lightning offers up to 320 miles per full charge and up to 10,000 lbs. with the Max Trailer Tow Package (for Flash and Lariat trims). The work truck version of the Silverado EV also has an estimated 600 ft.-lb. of torque and 515 hp in tow/haul mode.

Market leader Ford has scaled back production of the Lightning, so it’s fair fleets still want the typical gas- and diesel-powered pickups to serve as fleet work horses. As such, Ford has carried over Super Duty 2023 model year technology and powertrain updates to the manufacturer’s chassis cabs. Included are Pro Trailer Hitch Assist, Smart Hitch, and Pro Trailer Backup Assist systems, a standard PTO provision, and 7.3L V8 gas engine.

Lieberum also pointed out that the Ford Super Duty chassis cab’s standard power locks can be integrated with service body sub-compartment locks via the Vehicle Integration System 2.0, making it easier to ensure all the truck’s doors and cabinets are secure. Available as well are under-seat lockable storage on crew cabs and accessories such as the Vehicle Safe by Console Vault.

“Our customers get both physical and intelligence-based security solutions, and an intelligent layer of security with a camera to monitor the interior,” Lieberum said. “With Ford Pro Telematics services, customers can monitor their trucks for unauthorized activities like door openings.”

At Stellantis, the latest Ram 2500 pickup is offered with two exclusive rear suspensions: a five-link coil system and an air suspension system, reported Trevor Dorchies at Ram Professional.

“The Ram 3500 continues to utilize the rear Hotchkiss leaf spring system or can be specified with a supplemental air suspension system,” he said.

High-resolution backup cameras with dynamic grid lines now come standard to improve visibility around the vehicle, Dorchies added.

“The available digital rearview mirror displays video in real time in all driving modes from the rear-facing camera and can be turned off to revert to a traditional reflective mirror,” he explained. “The digital rearview mirror provides an unobstructed view that enhances safety and reduces downtime. Ram is also offering the Uconnect 5 with 12-in. touchscreen infotainment system that brings ease of use with the ability to integrate your cell phone.”

Trucks

Brian Tabel, assistant VP of  at Isuzu, reported that for the 2025 model year the company is offering a new Class 5 N-Series NRR EV with a completely new cab. The N-Series Diesel will also share some features with the EV.

The new Isuzu models feature ADAS enhancements (standard on the EV and optional on the diesel) that include:

  • Distance Alert System when a vehicle ahead is within a certain range
  • Forward Vehicle Start Notification when a vehicle ahead has moved
  • Mis-Acceleration Mitigation that restricts engine output when an object in front is detected and the accelerator is depressed more than necessary
  • Full-Range Adaptive Cruise Control that operates until the vehicle stops
  • Lane Departure Warning System when the vehicle approaches a lane boundary
  • Advanced Emergency Braking System that notifies the driver with visual and audible alerts and, if necessary, automatically applies braking force to reduce vehicle speed

For added security, reported Isuzu’s Tabel, the new Isuzu EV comes with standard keyless entry and starting if the driver has a key fob. Additionally, both the EV and the manufacturer’s diesel trucks have an electrical architecture that powers all safety and vehicle systems along with providing cybersecurity features.

There are also a series of exterior design updates to the front panel, grille, and the addition of LED headlamps, and the front bumper now has a headlamp washer. The interior design includes an updated dash and storage area, auto headlamps, new windshield wiper functions, and updated HVAC controls. The trucks also have a redesigned steering wheel, an instrument panel meter, a multi-information display, and driver and front outboard passenger airbags.

For the Mack MD Series Class 6 model, noted Tim Wrinkle, senior product manager for vocational and medium duty, an Allison 3000 RDS automatic was recently added to enable higher GCWR ratings. The transmission also provides a live Power Takeoff so the vehicle can move and use the PTO at the same time​.

“We added LED headlights that should last longer than halogen lights as an option on the Mack MD Series,” Wrinkle added. “There is also a connected GEOTAB device in every MD.”

Interior features of Peterbilt medium-duty trucks have been upgraded, too. Included are dual RP 1226 connectors for easier installation of aftermarket components, switch locations that are optimized for easier reach and visibility, a digital display, and an optional multi-function steering wheel to allow drivers to access information without taking their hands off the wheel.

Bendix Fusion collision mitigation is also fully integrated with the digital display in the Peterbilt models. In addition, there is a flex panel that can be configured with additional storage, SmartNav, or additional analog gauges, and a center console with USB and power plugs.

Exterior features on the OEM’s medium-duty trucks include painted and chrome bumper options, LED fog lights, halogen headlights, and a stainless-steel grille to protect the engine and cooling module. On the Model 536 a front engine PTO became available.

Johannes Kuhn, vocational and medium-duty product marketing manager, Freightliner, reported that the M2 106 Plus has undergone a major redesign where several features were modified or added to the overall structure of the vehicle. “The primary updates include an upgrade to the electrical architecture, integration of Detroit safety systems, and premium insulation to improve fit and finish,” he said.

“In early 2024, a factory-installed Backup Alert System was launched for the M2 106 Plus to provide an additional layer of safety by giving the operator more visibility to blind spots, and to eliminate the need to upfit a third-party solution,” Kuhn added.

Bruce Vasbinder, director, of MD marketing at International discussed enhancements to the International Trucks MV Series. “The changes complement and improve safety,” he said. “They include ADAS, a back-up camera, an automatically dimming full video display rearview mirror, Bendix Intellipark, an option which will automatically set the chassis air parking brake when a driver leaves the vehicle, and Bendix Wingman Fusion with improved adaptive cruise control and options for customizing various features.

“We are also incorporating customer requests,” Vasbinder continued. “For example, heated LED headlamps are needed in environments where ice and snow pack the headlamp surface. We also created an option to omit the rear window for applications like work trucks, and ambulance, fire, and rescue vehicles.”

For 2024, Bollinger Motors is preparing to launch its all-electric Class 4 B4 truck. “The core element of the B4 is a custom chassis that has been engineered and built for Classes 4-6 EV truck applications,” said Jim Connelly, chief revenue officer. “For example, it is 40 inches wide versus the traditional 34 inches to allow the batteries and all componentry to be housed between the frame rails for a safer and more stable platform.”

Connelly also noted that the Bollinger B4 has flat frame rails, making it easier for upfitters to attach products with limited or no modifications. In addition, with low, centered batteries and components, the truck has enhanced driving dynamics, and the placement creates an environment for easier maintenance.

 

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience in fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service, and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues.

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