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The 2017 NTEA Work Truck Show

The Work Truck Future is Bright—and Green

Jun 6, 2017
Photographers: Brett T. Evans, Courtesy of the NTEA
The yearly Work Truck Show is the industry’s leading event, and 2017 was no exception. Put on by the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA), WTS 2017 brought together more than 500 vendors, 11,799 total attendees, members of the media, and industry bigwigs for a four-day romp around the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.
As with previous Work Truck Show events, there was a strong emphasis on green technology and efficiency this year. Keeping up with constantly evolving regulations and consumer demands, the work truck (and truck equipment) industry is rife with new innovations that make trucking greener, leaner, and (hopefully) more cost-effective. That new tech came from sources as diverse as toolbox manufacturers, OEMs like Ford, and specialty vehicle manufacturers like Mitsubishi Fuso.
Photo 2/43   |   Ford added three alt-fuel companies to its new hybrid and electric Qualified Vehicle Modifier (eQVM) program. This XL Hybrids Ford E-Series cutaway uses frame-mounted batteries to power an electric motor, mounted inline with the driveshaft. Such a configuration makes upfit much less complicated, as the hybrid system is largely self-contained. It’s also available for the Ford F-150 pickup. The other new eQVMs are Motiv Power Systems and Lightning Hybrids.
Photo 3/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show EQVM Program
However, it’s not just evolving environmental standards that are changing the industry, as the show also underscored the need for the next generation of employees. Work Truck Review was privileged to listen in on “What the Industry Needs to Know About Recruiting and Keeping Millennials,” one of the many panel discussions hosted by the NTEA.
We were also lucky to score some seat time in a variety of different work trucks, including the Motiv Power Systems Ford F-59. Motiv made some waves at the Work Truck Show after being announced as Ford’s newest electric/hybrid Qualified Vehicle Modifier (eQVM). After driving the all-electric F-59, we spoke with Motiv Vice President, Business Development Shyam Nagrani about the future of the company.
As always, the show provided both industry experts and laypeople with plenty of information and hands-on experience, giving us an optimistic idea of what’s to come for American work trucks.
Photo 4/43   |   Chevrolet used the 2017 Work Truck Show to introduce the 6500XD low-cab-forward truck. Sized at the top of Chevy’s LCF lineup, the 6500XD is a Class 6 truck based on the same chassis used by the Isuzu FTR, using that vehicle’s 5.2L turbodiesel I-4.
Photo 5/43   |   Ram announced a new Q Pro upfitter program that works like Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Modifiers. In addition, the company now offers a dealership-based augmented reality configurator, which allows customers to point an app-enabled camera at a specific truck or van, then virtually see what it might look like with a variety of upfits, like this frame-mounted Vanair generator.
Photo 6/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Q Pro
Photo 7/43   |   Work trucks aren’t known for their low emissions, but that might change with the Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero natural-gas engine. Closed crankcase ventilation, a larger catalyst, and software enhancements give this L-Series powerplant emissions that beat stringent standards by a walloping nine-tenths. The Near Zero program will soon spread to the ISB6.7G, a natural-gas engine derived from the legendary Cummins B-Series powerplant.
Photo 8/43   |   Motiv Power Systems has teased its electric van conversion for a few years now, but the 2017 Work Truck Show was our first opportunity to actually drive it. Now a Ford eQVM, Motiv all-electric magic can be applied to the F-53 and F-59 stripped chassis, as well as the E-Series cutaway and stripped chassis. It drove very well, and we loved the instant-on electric torque and impressive 89 miles of range.
Photo 9/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Motiv Power Systems
Photo 10/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Motiv Power Systems Tease
Photo 11/43   |   The Work Truck Show Ride-and-Drive gave attendees the opportunity to sample the newest truck technology on public roads. The 2-mile loop wove through the city streets of downtown Indianapolis.
Photo 12/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Ride And Drive
Photo 13/43   |   Mitsubishi Fuso’s new eCanter will be appearing on American roads soon. With a battery pack that features 100 lithium-ion cells and 13.8kWh in total, Fuso expects a 30 percent reduction in operating costs compared to more conventional trucks.
Photo 14/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show ECanter
Photo 15/43   |   This 1969 Olsonette is a vintage predecessor of modern Morgan-Olson box trucks. Each day around lunchtime, we found ourselves craving a “Quality All Beef Hot Dog,” but unfortunately, this truck was just for show.
Photo 16/43   |   Composite Truck Body brought a variety of truck accessories, including this slide-in storage topper. Aerodynamic design and lightweight construction materials should help improve its host truck’s fuel economy compared to boxier, heavier bedcaps.
Photo 17/43   |   The A.R.E. DoubleCover is a new product that combines the best features of a rolling bedcover and a hinged tonneau. Rolling the cover forward opens the bed up for hauling tall cargo, while the reinforced side rails and locking latch provide the security and good looks of a tonneau.
Photo 18/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show A R E Doublecover
Photo 19/43   |   Recognizing the important work law enforcement professionals do every day, Chevrolet brought the Tahoe 9C1 to Indianapolis. This rugged SUV’s cargo area was outfitted with police tape, a fire extinguisher, storage drawers, and an intimidating stop stick.
Photo 20/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Tahoe 9C1
Photo 21/43   |   Buyers Products brought snowplows large and small to the Work Truck Show, with Kubota and F-Series Super Duty applications on hand. Somehow, the snarling-dog logo looks a lot less threatening (and more fuzzy) in mascot form.
Photo 22/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Snowdogg
Photo 23/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Mascot
Photo 24/43   |   This customized Western Star dump-body isn’t a show queen; it regularly gets put through its paces by a Wisconsin landscaping company.
Photo 25/43   |   The Nissan NV Cargo X is the diesel-powered, four-wheel-drive van of our dreams. It sees frequent use on the trails, as evidenced by the, ahem, rock-molded custom bodywork on the rocker panels.
Photo 26/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Nissan NV Cargo X Cummins Logo
Photo 27/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Nissan NV Cargo X
Photo 28/43   |   The full Isuzu lineup includes Class 3, Class 4, and Class 5 NPR trucks and the boss-hoss Class 6 FTR.
Photo 29/43   |   The partnership between Freightliner and Detroit Diesel is alive and well. This Freightliner M2 106 uses a Detroit DD5 5.1L I-4 with 230 hp and 660 lb-ft of stump-pulling torque.
Photo 30/43   |   With a 6.7L Cummins I-6, six-speed manual transmission, regular cab, dual rear wheels, and Ram accessory fifth-wheel hitch, this Ram 3500 is many people’s ideal basic work truck.
Photo 31/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Ram 3500
Photo 32/43   |   The mighty Alaskan is actually a special edition of the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD. It’s equipped with the snowplow prep package, gloss black wheels, Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires, the Alaskan logo on the bed, and a variety of other functional and cosmetic goodies, and buyers can order this truck right from their local dealers.
Photo 33/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Alaskan
Photo 34/43   |   This Ram 3500 is equipped with a Maxlift crane mounted to its utility body and slick-looking chrome diamond-plate running boards along its rocker panels. Somehow, there’s a slightly ’80s-retro vibe to this truck, no?
Photo 35/43   |   Thanks to its instantly recognizable bulldog logo, Mack Trucks makes some of the most recognizable work machines on the road today.
Photo 36/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Mack
Photo 37/43   |   All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. So when the job’s done, we think it’d be a good idea to jump in this Ram Power Wagon and hit the trails for a weekend.
Photo 38/43   |   The Nissan booth was a big crowd-pleaser. While its hardworking lineup of trucks might deserve some of the credit, we think most of it goes to this Nissan NV200 that’s been converted into a mobile taproom.
Photo 39/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Taproom
Photo 40/43   |   If Nissan’s small van is a mobile taproom, then Mercedes-Benz’s is a mobile toolbox. The vinyl wrap and body accessories on this Metris were deceptively smooth; we could have sworn they were made of rugged Ranger Designs textured plastic.
Photo 41/43   |   2017 NTEA Work Truck Show Metris
Photo 42/43   |   The refreshed and redesigned ’18 Ford F-150 stands out, even in the company of its much (much, much, much) bigger brother.

“What the Industry Needs to Know About Recruiting and Keeping Millennials”

The NTEA also hosted several information sessions, including a panel discussion between the audience and six Millennial-age employees and executives. Moderated by Interchange Group Principal (and generational expert) Amy Hirsch Robinson, the panel answered audience questions on how to attract Millennials to the work truck industry and keep them there. Robinson pointed out a few key challenges the industry will face in the future, primarily thanks to the lessons Millennials learned from their Baby Boomer and Generation X parents. The highly individual Millennial generation craves self-esteem and positive reinforcement, and thanks to their upbringing in a post-9/11 world, they understand their globalized world more intrinsically than some of their elders. Furthermore, Millennials tend to be very close with their parents, and they tend to operate best in collaborative, cooperative environments.
Millennials were raised in a volatile market; while their Baby Boomer predecessors enjoyed long periods of slow, steady growth, Millennials live in an economy that experiences massive blips and significant losses. As such, they can endure minor crashes without losing faith in the market. Currently, the Millennial generation is the largest in the job market, and they will comprise more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2018.
As a result of these characteristics, Millennials can offer much to the job market, but there’s also lots of room to learn and improve, according to the panelists.
“There’s a big skill gap,” said Nate Gibson, vice president, sales, at Canfield Equipment Service, Inc. “There aren’t enough of us who’ve gone to trade schools, and that’s a big problem.” Another panelist, Altec Industries Customer Relations Manager Jennifer Pellersels, pointed out the differences in the workplace between Millennials and their generational peers. “They want to work remotely and stay social and connected at work,” Pellersels said. “Recruiting and keeping the industry attractive for them is a challenge.”
However, in contrast with other generations in the workforce, one panelist suggested that Millennials were more open to adaptation than their peers.
“We accept change well, and we appreciate and adapt to constructive criticism,” said Melissa Bergkamp, marketing manager at DewEze Mfg. “It’s frustrating working with older generations because they may not like change as much. If you change a little bit with me, we’ll be able to adapt to each other both professionally and socially.”
And while some audience members were keen to lump all Millennials into one big group, one panelist pointed out that age didn’t necessarily correspond with communication or learning skills.
“One person loves learning with their hands, and one person wants that instruction in a step-by-step process,” said Andrew Dawson, marketing manager at Muncie Power Products. “You have to get to know your people and understand their learning style, and I don’t know if the generation has much to do with that. It’s very person-to-person, less generational.”
After an hour of audience questions and panelist answers, the discussion ended with a call to action from the moderator.
“Get curious,” Hirsch said. “Get to know each other beyond the stereotypes.”

Interview With Shyam Nagrani, Motiv Power Systems Vice President, Business Development

Photo 43/43   |   Motiv Power Systems Vice President, Business Development Shyam Nagrani, standing in front of the company’s Ford F-59 stripped chassis.
Motiv Power Systems is one of the industry’s leading companies in all-electric conversions. Founded in 2009 by Jim Castelaz, the company currently produces electrified versions of the Ford F-53, F-59, and E-Series stripped-chassis trucks, as well as the Ford E-Series cutaway van and Crane Carrier refuse truck. Riding a wave of good news at the 2017 Work Truck Show, Shyam Nagrani of Motiv Power Systems sat down with Work Truck Review for an informal Q&A about the company’s past, present, and future.
Work Truck Review: What has your growth been like since you opened shop?
Shyam Nagrani: We had seven employees in 2011. Today, we have 53. We just moved last year to a new facility with much more space.
WTR: How do changes in environmental regulations affect your funding?
SN: Our incentives come on the state level. California has incentives in place, as do New York and Chicago. Our money doesn’t come from the Department of Energy. Traditionally, California has been the standard bearer for air quality, and at least in the short term, I don’t see that changing.
WTR: How do you foresee growth?
SN: Our business model is to partner. With the right partner, we can figure out what makes sense. We will deepen our [eQVM] relationship with Ford, and we’re helping those who need an answer to the electric question. And Roush Industries is decontenting and upfitting trucks for us at the rate of one per week. Just being in this booth has been fantastic for us! Ford has been awesome to partner with!

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