LAS VEGAS. Yesterday, at the Las Vegas Speedway here, Mack Trucks Inc. rolled out a new axle-back version of its Granite Class 8 vocational truck. According to the OEM, the Granite Axle Back is aimed at fleets operating in some states and in Canada where laws governing roadway use are such that having the front axle set back makes it possible to legally carry more payload. What's more, said Mack, the axle-back position provides a shorter overall wheelbase for enhanced maneuverability when driving around job sites.

"Almost as soon as it was introduced, the current Granite model became the vehicle of choice for customers who recognized the importance of combining our traditional durability and reliability with all of the creature comforts today's drivers demand," said Tom Kelly, vp of marketing. "And the new axle back version offers an equally strong value proposition for our customers."

He said the new model combines all the advantages of the original Granite, including a large, strong, comfortable cab; "best-in-class" visibility; ergonomically designed electronic dash, and advanced electronics, with a bold new exterior boasting distinctive flexible fender extensions, halogen headlamps, optional stylized mirrors, and "the eye-catching Mack 'M' grille." Various front bumper types, including flush, extended, and stylized, are offered. A 27-inch front extension option provides protection for a front-mounted PTO.

A wide range of frame rail thickness and crossmember options make it possible to configure the new model as a straight truck or tractor for almost any application, said Mack, including mixer, dump, roll-off, or rear loader.

To help reduce maintenance costs, air lines and the electrical harness are easily accessed. All air valves are centrally and conveniently located. Air and electrical lines are properly supported and protected in brackets specially designed to reduce fraying. All fittings feature reusable quick connects. Work-oriented options include factory-installed Central Tire Inflation; perimeter lights and an air hose set up to blow debris out of the cab.

According to the OEM, the re-engineered BodyLink system available on Granite Axle Back features two quick connect electrical connectors along the left hand frame rail that allow a bodybuilder to more efficiently wire into the truck's electrical system, helping to reduce installation time and improve quality.

Steve Ginter, marketing manager for vocational products, said the "backbone" of Granite Axle Back is a new vocational chassis dubbed Cornerstone. He said the wide range of its constant-height frame rail options (300-mm tall and ranging in thickness from 7 mm to 11.1 mm) are made from high-strength, low-alloy steel that's quenched and tempered to a minimum of 120,000 PSI. Rail reinforcement liners are also available.

"Take one look at these crossmembers and rails and you know right away that this is a Mack chassis," said Ginter. "But the Cornerstone chassis isn't just strong and tough. It's designed to enhance profitability. Flaring the rails up front allowed us to increase the size of the radiator - and make other enhancements to the cooling system - which makes the truck run very efficiently. To reduce driver fatigue, we incorporated a new engine mounting system that decreases noise and vibration. A rubber cushioning system cradles the engine and promotes longer operating life. And a whisper-quiet fan, controlled by our V-MAC electronics turns on and off precisely when needed."

Ginter said that due to anticipated demand, Mack is "already well into actual production" of the Granite Axle Back. He noted that customers who visit the Mack booth (#C6720) during this week's World of Concrete show in Vegas will be given the opportunity to test drive the new model.