Early in September, Wisconsin-based commercial truck and equipment dealer Kriete Truck Centers announced it had completed the rigorous training and facility upgrades to become the first Mack Trucks and Volvo Trucks Certified Electric Vehicle Dealer in the state.
At a follow-up press briefing at the Kriete Truck Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Johathan Randall, president of Mack Trucks, and David Kriete, the third-generation president and CEO of Kriete Truck Centers, spoke to journalists about the current state of the trucking industry in general, as well as Kriete’s ongoing acquisition and expansion efforts in the Midwest.
The briefing also centered on the Mack MD vocational truck, as well as the Mack MD Electric, and LR Electric refuse models, with Kriete noting that it recently sold the first two LR Electric models to the city of Madison, Wisconsin.
A Medium-Duty Home Run
Randall opened his comments by noting that initially, the timing could not have been worse for the launch of Mack’s first new medium-duty truck in many years.
“We launched the MD at NTEA 2020,” he said. “And the very next week the world shut down due to the COVID pandemic.”
Still, Randall, said, the Mack MD has “done better than anyone could have ever imagined,” with the 33,000-lb. model turning out to be an extremely versatile truck.
“We initially went to market with a basic box truck configuration,” he said. “But now, three years later, we see the truck being used in all sorts of applications – everything from roll-offs, dump trucks and grapple hooks. I even saw an MD7 the other day configured as a car-hauler. So, the truck has really done well. Even in a lot of market segments we didn’t intend to put it in initially.”
Randall said Mack’s intention when it launched the MD was to gain 5% market share in the North American medium-duty truck market.
“We finished with 5% last year,” he added. “And we’re on track to be somewhere north of 5.5% this year. That’s because our dealer network has been very effective in promoting and selling the truck, and our customers have really embraced it.”
Randall also credited the MD with giving Mack dealers additional volume to sell in a constrained Class 8 market.
“The total Class 8 market last year was around 300,000 units,” he said. “I believe our sales could have been 10% to 15% higher if we’d had the trucks available. But we didn’t have the resources and materials to build them.”
The MD has “knocked it out of the park” for Mack, Randall said. Now the OEM is busy making improvements on the design to refine its comfort and capabilities and allow it to enter new medium-duty market segments in the future.
“We’re making substantial investments in the MD platform,” he said. “And it makes sense that we’ve electrified it."
Production will begin on the MD electric in the fourth quarter, he said, and the fourth-quarter production run is already sold out.
Mack is confident the MD will be an outstanding platform for a medium-duty electric truck, Randall said. Most trucks in medium-duty size classes spend their work days in a small radius around their base. usually in an urban environment. And they typically return to home base every night. For those reasons, Mack has designed the Class 6 MD Electric models with either 150- or 240-mile range, depending on the battery configuration. The Class 7 MD Electric has 240 miles of range as the sole power offering.
“Again, we’re getting very positive response from the market, because this is an electric truck that makes sense,” Randall said. “Fleets can buy them on a one-to-one basis to replace a diesel truck. They don’t have to run more MD Electric trucks to do the same work a single diesel truck does.”
Madison's Refuse Fleet Turns to Mack LR Electric
While most electric truck sales seem to be focused on the East and West coasts, David Kriete said that Kriete Truck Centers have already been making sales in Wisconsin, including two LR Electric models to the city of Madison, Wisconsin, and an MD Electric to Imperial Industries, a tank truck builder located in the state. Kriete said the initial MD Electric is being evaluated by Imperial, and he expects additional sales to follow.
Headquartered in Milwaukee and family owned since its inception in 1951, Kriete currently operates 10 locations across Wisconsin. With its Madison location selected as the first to be EV certified, Kriete currently has similar plans in the works for other locations, including its original dealership in Milwaukee.
“Madison is a Wisconsin ‘blue’ city,” Kriete said. “Recently it committed to begin using green vehicles for city services. A year ago they approached us about getting better electric vehicles for the city refuse department. And Mack was able to upfit two, new, LRe electric trucks and have them in service by the end of the year. And we are excited to be talking to the city now about its first MD Electric order.”
Kriete said the sales are a reflection of his dealership’s commitment to embrace new, zero-emission powertrain technologies.
“Our priority is to serve as stewards for our employees, customers, business partners and the world around us,” he said. “As part of this commitment, we’re investing in EV infrastructure at our facilities and with our people, as reflected in our Mack and Volvo certification efforts."
Key in that effort is listening to the customer and serving their requirements.
“When it comes to where and when we invest, our strategy is to let customer needs drive what we do,” he added. “As demand for EV support grows in a particular market, so, too, will our certification efforts, in line with continuing to be the best steward to all of our stakeholders.”
Certification also includes investments in diagnostics tools, Kriete said. Kriete’s Madison Truck Center has outfitted a dedicated service bay with the equipment needed to safely perform battery-electric truck maintenance and repairs.
Kriete will also maintain a stock of key parts and components for the Volvo and Mack electric models to minimize service times and get customers back on the road.
Kriete has invested more than $30 million in its Midwestern footprint today, Kriete added. This includes acquisitons and investments and an all-out effort to electrify its Madison Truck Center to support the city's move to battery-electric trucks.
"We replumbed the facility and upgraded to charge electric trucks," he said. "That includes installing two electric charging stations and training the entire staff — in addition to technicians — on Mack's electrification program. Now, we are finally certifed. That's a step in the right direction. And we're looking forward to bringing electric trucks to other markets we serve.
"Our Stephen's Point dealership will be next on the Mack Electric Certification list. And we will spread out to other areas as we take on more orders for Mack electric trucks to provide those services in applications and market niches that make sense."