With several manufacturers producing top-of-the-line Class 8 trucks, the question must be asked, which one is the best bang for the buck?
Between Mack, Freightliner, Peterbilt and Kenworth, there are many Class 8 trucks on the market. Most drivers and fleets in the industry will find themselves aligned with a specific original equipment manufacturer (OEM), but what draws them to each? Let's break down some of the largest manufacturers and what makes them especially appealing for buyers seeking value.
Owned by PACCAR Inc (NASDAQ: PCAR) and with over 90 years of experience in the industry, Kenworth, although biased, considers itself "the world's best." However, thousands of owner-operators have labeled Kenworth as the maker of the ideal owner-operator vehicle. Kenworth is known for making top-of-the-line models that attract those looking for a classy, polished look. These Class 8 trucks stand out, not only for their appealing exteriors but for the latest computer technology, keeping them steps ahead of other manufacturers' trucks.
The latest navigational technologies installed in Kenworth trucks are capable of using Google applications and use an interface similar to a smartphone, making it easy to learn and adapt to. When discussing Kenworth's modern technological updates, the Truck Freighter blog states that "you will feel like you're in a futuristic truck in this model (T680) and Kenworth's other models as well."
One reason why truck drivers must love these Kenworth trucks so much is because they are designed in part by a team of experienced truckers themselves, who make decisions on upcoming models based around practicality.
With its long nose and clean lines, Kenworth has nailed down a classic and timeless design. However, there are also a number of elements that might make those in the market for a heavy-duty truck less attracted to Kenworth. For example, there are a number truck models with better aerodynamics than Kenworth usually has to offer. In addition, its trucks are typically much heavier than others, which affects many of the truck's functions – most importantly the fuel efficiency.
According to Transport Topics, Kenworth ranked third in U.S. 2018 new truck sales, with nearly 38,000 sales. Overall, Kenworth's models are popular mostly for design and style rather than efficiency, and therefore appeal more to owner-operators rather than to companies with large fleets.
Another owner-operator favorite, also owned by PACCAR, is Peterbilt. This manufacturer has been making Class 8 trucks for nearly 80 years and offers trucks with the most alternative fuel options on the market. For an industry that seeks fuel efficiency, safety and design, Peterbilt has built its trucks with the consumer in mind. Peterbilt has become a favorite among both owner- operators as well as large fleets due to its intricate style, innovative safety precautions and ultimately its fuel efficiency.
"Peterbilts do the job, do it right, and they do it looking good," reported Smarttrucking.com, which also reported that Peterbilt makes the most popular trucks in the industry.
"Most any of the Class 8 [trucks] will do the job too.... that's a given. But a ‘Pete' offers more than just getting the job done. It also offers class and style. A Pete stands out in a crowd."
Peterbilt makes its models with the intention to take fuel economy to the next level. Peterbilt models also offer hybrid electric engines, which are not available from most other commercial truck manufacturers.
Conversely, many users have complained about Peterbilts' ability to carry large loads. Peterbilt only makes a couple of heavy-duty models and they are mostly used as dump trucks. This makes Peterbilt more appealing to the owner-operator rather than the larger fleets looking to transport heavy cargo.
Another thing that Peterbilt has paid close attention to is the lifespan of its models. While priced higher than trucks built by other OEMs, Peterbilt claims that its models typically last much longer than trucks made by its competitors. Another major benefit of an aluminum body is that it is lighter, which ultimately supports the fuel efficiency of the model. If a trucking company or owner-operator is looking for the lightest model possible, Peterbilt is certainly the way to go.
Lastly, unlike many other manufacturers' models, Peterbilt trucks have outstanding resale value, according to the Commercial Carrier Journal. This is not only because of their timeless style, but because these machines were built to last much longer than most other trucks. One of the best known Class 8 trucks in history is the Peterbilt Classic 359 model, which was first made in 1967 and discontinued in 1987. Used Classic 359s are still being sold to this day and many truckers rave about their love for this model.
Peterbilt's 2018 sales ranked right under Kenworth at fourth with around 35,000 trucks sold in the U.S., according to Transport Topics.
While Kenworth offers top-of-the-line design and Peterbilt is known for its wide range of fuel-alternative models as well as one-of-a-kind fuel efficiency, Freightliner manufactures the broadest range of job grades. Any on-highway, medium-duty and heavy-duty jobs can be done with models made by Freightliner. In addition to their wide variety of capabilities, Freightliners offer a large variety of cab sizes.
According to smarttrucking.com, Freightliner wins the award for overall fuel efficiency, design and price. Appealing to large fleets in particular, Freightliner models have much to offer. A Freightliner cab is designed with special attention to aerodynamic efficiency so that the engine's power is put to the most efficient use possible.
Freightliner is the manufacturer of the famous Freightliner Cascadia – the most popular truck on the highway, according to smarttrucking.com. This manufacturer has the highest annual sales for good reason. Smarttrucking.com names the Freightliner Cascadia the "best truck in the industry."
Truckers typically love Freightliner because of the attention to cab space and noise. Since 2016, Freightliner has reduced cab noise by 50 percent. A reduction in cab noise, although a seemingly small detail, makes a huge difference for drivers. Less noise positively impacts the driver's stress level and fatigue both at the wheel and in the bunk.
Johnathan Randall, Freightliner's senior vice president of North America sales and marketing says, "Customers continue to place heavy emphasis on improving fuel efficiency, particularly now, as we see fuel prices steadily climbing." With fuel efficiency and a large variety of job grades, Freightliner has successfully appealed to both large fleets as well as owner-operators.
Ranked first in 2018 Class 8 sales, Freightliner sold nearly 100,000 trucks last year, according to transporttopics.com.
Known for many reasons, including being the truck that transports NASCAR vehicles, Volvo's Class 8 truck manufacturer, Mack, is the most recognized manufacturer in the trucking industry.
"There really isn't anything that Mack trucks aren't made to do... If there was one word to describe Mack, it would be ‘practical,'" wrote Truckfreighter.com.
Although many recognize Mack for its horsepower and range of capability, Mack is also known for offering several features that ensure driver's safety. Mack models provide a "guard dog" feature that warns the driver of any faulty codes and provides the diagnosis necessary for any error. This is a very important feature as it assures the driver's safety, peace of mind and ultimately avoids trip delays. Similar to Freightliner, Mack also offers reduced cab noise from its sound-deadening walls.
In 2018, Mack sold 40,000 trucks in the U.S., putting it in second place for 2018 Class 8 sales according to transporttopics.com.
With over 100 years of truck manufacturing experience, Mack is typically loved most by the older truck drivers but has reasons to still hold a positive reputation among the industry. Truckfreighter.com stated, "if you're looking for all-around quality, modern technology and powertrain function, Mack is still the best."
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