Aside from the engines, the trucks were mechanically similar, all using Mack’s mDRIVE 12-speed overdrive automated manual transmission, a 221' wheelbase and aerodynamic packages.

Mack press tour reveals fuel economy, uptime solutions

Dec. 5, 2018
The three-day convoy showcased the company’s latest technology as well as its maintenance and repair services.

Mack Anthem is a relatively new entry to the long-haul truck market. But, with production starting earlier this year, the new model is becoming a more familiar sight on highways across the country. Looking to showcase the features and efficiency the truck offers, Mack put together a fleet of six Anthems to travel over 900 miles from Asheville, North Carolina, to New Orleans. Fleet Maintenance was invited to go along for the ride.

The six Mack Anthem 70” Standup Sleepers represented three different engine options in otherwise similarly specified packages:

  • Trucks 1 and 2 (red) were powered by the Mack MP8-445C engine, producing 445 HP and 1,860 lb-ft of torque.
  • Trucks 3 and 4 (white) represented Mack’s most efficient powertrain with the Mack MP8HE-415SE engine, producing 415 HP and 1760 lb-ft of torque.
  • Trucks 5 and 6 (blue) rounded out the lineup with the Mack MP8HE-445SE, producing 445 HP and 1860 lb-ft of torque.

The trucks were otherwise mechanically similar, all using Mack’s mDRIVE 12-speed overdrive automated manual transmission (AMT), a 221” wheelbase and aerodynamic packages (red trucks had the full aerodynamic package, while the others had the HE+ package). One outlier was the rear axle; while the red and the blue trucks were all equipped with 6x4 Meritor MT40-14X4C rear axles, the white trucks were specified with Meritor RS23161 6x2 with a liftable pusher axle, giving an additional economical advantage.

All six trailers from Hale Trailers included Transtex Edge trailer skirts, Transtex Edge GPS-enable self-deploying tails, aero wheel covers from Real Wheel Corporation and EcoFlap aerodynamic splash guards. All of the rigs were loaded to about 65,000 lbs, according to Mack.

Asheville to Nashville

During the first leg of the journey from Asheville, North Carolina, to Nashville, Tennessee, industry journalists were able to familiarize themselves with the interiors and driver features of the fleet of Anthems. All six trucks were equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

The optional Bendix Wingman Fusion front and side collision avoidance warning made itself apparent, correcting the driver with an audible warning as well as a flashing light if he ventured too close to the centerline or road edge lines. Additionally, if the driver activated the turn signal to change lanes while another vehicle was in the truck’s blind spot, a virtual horn would sound, alerting the driver to the presence of the vehicle.

The Anthems were also equipped with adaptive cruise control, which holds the truck at a certain distance behind a slower vehicle in front of it, until the driver changes lanes to go around, or the vehicle in front increases its speed. It’s easy to see how these combined features could help to reduce driver fatigue and increase safety.

Day 1 provided the following fuel economy results:

  • Truck 1 (red). 7.9 mpg
  • Truck 2 (red). 8.1 mpg
  • Truck 3 (white). 8.5 mpg
  • Truck 4 (white). 9.8 mpg
  • Truck 5 (blue). 8.9 mpg
  • Truck 6 (blue). 8.1 mpg

Nashville to Memphis

The second leg proved to be another easy day on the road with the fleet of red, white and blue Macks. The trucks were parked for the night at Tri-State Truck Center in Memphis, Tennessee, and we were afforded the opportunity to take a peek at this impressive maintenance facility.

Tri-State Truck Center is a Mack Certified Uptime Center, meaning it is regularly assessed by Mack to meet the highest quality standards. Looking around at the clean, polished floors and neatly organized toolboxes, it was easy to see why this location continually makes the cut.

One bay is set aside as the “Uptime Bay,” designated for expedited diagnosis and repair to get trucks back on the road more quickly. Another feature of all Mack’s Uptime Centers is that diagnosis must be completed within two hours, allowing fleets to make decisions about potential repairs more quickly.

This facility was built in 1960, and even at that time had air conditioning - an important consideration in Memphis during the summer months. The comfortable working conditions allows the shop to hire and retain top technicians. There are currently 14 technicians at this location.

Day 2 provided the following fuel economy results:

  • Truck 1 (red). 8.5 mpg
  • Truck 2 (red). 8.3 mpg
  • Truck 3 (white). 9.0 mpg
  • Truck 4 (white). 10.4 mpg
  • Truck 5 (blue). 8.7 mpg
  • Truck 6 (blue). 8.6 mpg

Memphis to New Orleans

The final day started out smoothly enough, but ended early for one of the trucks. Red 2 had a service light illuminate on the dash, forcing it to pull off of the highway. As unfortunate as this event was, it did afford the opportunity to see the GuardDog Connect telematics system in action. Within minutes, the call center was on the phone with the exact codes the truck was showing.

In the end, the truck turned out to have a faulty fitting in the fuel system which was causing air to be drawn rather than fuel. This was a relatively minor issue that was resolved quickly thanks to modern technology.

Day 3 provided the following fuel economy results:

  • Truck 1 (red). 7.8 mpg
  • Truck 2 (red). N/A
  • Truck 3 (white). 8.4 mpg
  • Truck 4 (white). 9.8 mpg
  • Truck 5 (blue). 8.5 mpg
  • Truck 6 (blue). 8.3 mpg


Final fuel economy results ranged from 8.0 mpg (both reds) to 9.8 mpg (white 4). Obviously, these results may not be exactly what fleets will find in real-world situations. The time crunch was not as imperative, and no one behind the wheel was a professional truck driver. However, they do reveal that new advances in technology are improving fuel economy, and numbers such as these are achievable in the Anthem.

Additionally, it is interesting to see behind the scenes of Mack’s Uptime Centers and be able to witness the GuardDog Connect telematics in action. As trucks, and vehicles in general, becomes more advanced, these types of solutions may become more necessary when considering how to improve uptime.

About the Author

David Brierley | Editor | Fleet Maintenance

David Brierley is a former editor of Fleet Maintenance magazine.

Brierley’s education and career have been based in the publishing industry. He is an award-winning writer and comes from a background in automotive, trucking, and heavy equipment. Brierley joined the Endeavor Business Media vehicle repair group in 2017 as managing editor for Fleet Maintenance, PTEN, and Professional Distributor magazines, as well as In his current role, he writes for and oversees production of Fleet Maintenance magazine. He has worked in the publishing industry since 2011.

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