Mack Trucks builds electric momentum

A Mack truck parked in a lot

Mack Trucks recently began production of its second battery-electric vehicle (BEV), the Mack MD Electric, and delivered units to several customers, who are using the truck in a variety of applications. 

Mack made the announcement during Work Truck Week 2024 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis.

“We’re thrilled that the Mack MD Electric is in full production and that customers are beginning to take delivery of the trucks,” said Jonathan Randall, President of Mack Trucks North America.

“We built on the success of the diesel-powered Mack MD Series to bring an electric vehicle to the medium-duty market to help customers meet their sustainability goals with the same Mack promise of durability and reliability.”

The MD Electric complements its diesel-powered MD Series sibling, but with zero tailpipe emissions.

The MD Electric is the second electric vehicle introduced by Mack Trucks. The first was the Mack LR Electric, which went into production in December 2021. The Mack MD Electric is available like its diesel counterpart in Class 6 and Class 7 ratings. The Class 6 model has a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 11,800 kg, and the Class 7 model has a GVWR of 14,970 kg. 

The Michigan-based Pronto Freightways is one of the first companies to operate the MD electric. The truck will be used to pickup and deliver palletized cargo dock to dock within a 100-km radius. The MD Electric is the first electric vehicle in Pronto’s fleet.

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“We were given the opportunity to participate in the program, and we jumped on it,” said Paul Wozniak, President and CEO of Pronto.

Pronto Freight Ways has 25 diesel-powered Mack MD Series vehicles in its fleet and 25 heavy-duty vehicles in its fleet, all of which are Mack. 

The MD Electric’s three-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous motor and all on-board accessories are powered by Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) Oxide lithium-ion batteries, either in a 150 kWh or 240 kWH configuration. The MD Electric can be charged through AC or DC charging units. The regenerative braking system helps recapture energy from the multiple stops the vehicle makes each day. 

Designed with the heavy-duty quality of its diesel-powered counterparts, the MD Electric is available in 4×2 configurations featuring a sharp wheel cut for enhanced manoeuvrability in tight urban settings.

The MD Series cab design features a short bumper-to-back-of-cab measurement of 2.6 metres, an industry best. Similar to the diesel-powered Mack MD Series, Mack matched the look and styling of the Mack Anthem, Mack’s highway model, as a basis for the MD Electric grille and hood design. 

The Mack MD Electric will be supported by Mack dealers, many of which are already Mack Certified Electric Vehicle (EV) dealers.

Off-grid charging

To help customers investigate e-mobility for Class 6-8 vehicles and the feasibility for their fleets, Mack Trucks has built a mobile off-grid charging system that will be integrated into the body of a Mack MD Electric truck. 

The mobile Mack MD Electric charging unit can be used for a limited time by customers who want to test the technology, and by dealers when facilitating electric vehicle demos.

“This system will allow the customer or dealer to charge trucks – whether it’s a demo unit or a multi-unit ride-and-drive event at the dealer – without having charging infrastructure readily available at their site,” said Ryan Saba, Energy Solutions Manager for Mack Trucks. 

“Mack hopes that this option will help customers more easily experience the benefits of e-mobility and a more sustainable transportation option.”

The off-grid charging system will consist of a generator powered by renewable propane and 120 kW charger. The system will be mounted on the back of the MD Electric truck transporting it. Mack currently does not have plans to make the truck-charger configuration commercially available in its energy solutions portfolio but can support customers interested in purchasing the truck charger combo through their supplier relationships.

Manufacturing expansion

To accommodate increased demand for its MD Series and MD Electric vehicles, Mack Trucks is investing $14.5 million to expand its Roanoke Valley Operations (RVO) manufacturing facility in Virginia. 

“Mack is committed to making the industrial and product investments we need to be a North American market leader,” said Stephen Roy, Global President of Mack Trucks. “The expansion of the RVO plant will help us grow in a strategic market segment and support our sustainability goals.”

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced the $14.5 million investment during an event with state and local officials at RVO. Youngkin approved a $255,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund for the project. The project will result in 51 jobs. Roanoke County offered a package of incentives totalling $842,420.

“Mack Trucks’ expansion further strengthens Virginia’s manufacturing industry ecosystem, which is a core focus of the Commonwealth’s economic development strategy,” Youngkin said. 

Mack’s investment will go toward equipment, tooling and a 6,690 square metre building expansion, making the facility 32,702 square metres. Construction will begin in April, and the expansion project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2025. 

All Mack medium-duty models are produced at RVO. Mack launched the diesel-powered Mack MD Series in 2020 and launched the Mack MD Electric in March 2023. Adding the new model to the product lineup increased the need for more space at the facility.

“Customer demand for the Mack MD and MD Electric continues to grow beyond our expectations,” Roy said. “This investment and expansion will well-position Mack Trucks for the future.” 

The MD and MD Electric meet the needs of trucking applications requiring dry van/refrigerated, stake/flatbed and dump vocations. 

The MD6 model does not require a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to operate for non-hazardous payloads