Peterbilt intends to grow its market share this year, and is placing a particular emphasis on the medium duty truck segment. It has a number of new product initiatives and marketing programs coming, and with its new plant in Canada, it's positioned to sell over 10,000 medium duty models annually.

That was the word from company officials during Peterbilt's first medium truck customer event, The Experience of Class, Model 330 Customer Seminar, held recently in Charlotte, NC. The event, co-sponsored by Caterpillar, brought in some 80 medium duty truck users (30% were current Peterbilt users; 70% were potential customers) from a cross section of vocations.
Caterpillar's 7.2-liter electronic 3126B diesel comes standard in the Model 330, a conventional that is available in both truck and tractor versions.
"The objective of the seminar is to provide participants with a better understanding of Peterbilt and its products, and how our products can benefit their business," explained Kevin Gustainis, Peterbilt's medium duty sales marketing manager. "We want them to be informed and impressed with the capability, functionality, quality and value of our products, and how they are superior in any application."
This was demonstrated through various presentations, a plant tour of Caterpillar's Greenville, SC, plant which builds the 3126, product/vendor fairs and rides and drives of eight different configured Model 330s in three different driving conditions: highway, off-road and inner city.
On hand at the event were management representatives from Peterbilt and Caterpillar sales, engineering and marketing to answer any questions. Also in attendance were representatives from Paccar Financial, Paccar Parts, PacLease and many of Peterbilt's vendors, including Alcoa, Allison, Bridgestone, Eaton, Meritor and a number of body builders.
There were no dealer salespeople at the event and no competitive models. "We didn't want those attending our medium duty experience to feel any pressure from salespeople," commented Peterbilt's director of vocational markets, Ray Paradis. "Furthermore, our purpose is not to knock the competition. We want our customers to come to their own conclusions about the Model 330."
The ride and drive in particular was designed to offer participants "the ability to evaluate our products with their particular application in mind, in real world driving situations," Paradis said. Model 330s available for testing were a beverage truck, beverage tractor/trailer combination, refuse roll-off, 18-foot reefer truck, 18-foot platform truck, single-axle dump, tandem-axle dump and four-door custom hauler.
The trucks had Cat 3126B engines in a variety of horsepower ratings. Transmissions included Eaton Fuller AutoShift 6-speeds and 6-, 9- and 10-speed manuals and Allison Automatics.
Peterbilt application engineers were in attendance to help potential customers develop specs ideal for each truck user's particular needs, said Gustainis. The engineers had laptop computers programmed with Peterbilt truck specification software in order to provide the truck users with a copy of their specs to take home.
As an incentive, those who attended The Experience of Class event were offered a $1,500 cash rebate. To qualify, they had to place an order with a Peterbilt dealer for a new Model 330 equipped with a Caterpillar engine before July 1 and take delivery before December 31, 2000.
Peterbilt officials used the occasion of the customer event to announce a number of planned new product initiatives for the Model 330. Among them:
* Hydraulic brakes for the Class 6 version.
* Special extended cab or four-door crew cab kit to speed aftermarket installation. (These may become a factory-installed option with the new Model 330 platform, due within the next 2-3 years.)
* 18,000 to 20,000-pound front axles for heavier applications.
* Spicer Lite 100 driveline.
* New stainless steel bumper.
* Programs with major body builders across all market segments to facilitate body and equipment installation and assure proper specification.
Also coming are new financing solutions from Paccar Financial and some new leasing programs from PacLease, including specially priced Fair Market Value Leases for the Model 330 and the new cabover Model 270, set to be introduced later this month at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.
Peterbilt is no newcomer to medium duty trucks. It's been in the medium duty business since 1986 when it began producing the Model 200 Mid-Ranger Series of steel-cab cabover trucks.
In 1994, the Model 330 conventional was introduced and has since become the foundation of its medium truck product line. The truck is designed and built with many of the same innovations and features used on Peterbilt's Class 8 trucks.