The National Truck Equipment Association's Work Truck Show is a good barometer of what kind and how much work is getting done across the country. When things are buzzing at this Indianapolis show, you know people who are selling big equipment are talking to (and presumably selling to) fleet buyers, municipalities and small-to-medium-sized businesses. This year, the show floor was crowded, busy, and full of news and new products for just about everyone. Here are some highlights.
1. Ram 2500 CNG Bi-Fuel
Previously only offered in one configuration, the Ram 2500 compressed natural gas lineup has been expanded to include the regular-cab long-bed 4×4 and 4×2 models as well as a 4×2 crew cab. The factory-installed option allows for the use of CNG and gasoline, which can potentially increase the overall range of the truck (when equipped with the dual CNG tanks and the 35-gallon gasoline tank) to just less than 1,000 miles between fill-ups.
2. Mighty 2016 Ford F-750 Tonka Dump Truck
The big news about the Super Duty F-650/750 is that Ford will start producing the trucks at its Ohio plant late this summer, and for the first time they'll be a completely Ford product, bumper to bumper. Right now they are built in Mexico. The medium-duty trucks will be offered with Ford-designed and manufactured engines (a V-10 gas and a V-8 Power Stroke) and a heavy-duty 6R140 six-speed transmission. Additionally, now that the Ford Super Duty team has complete control of all aspects of the full truck lineup, technology from the F-250/350 is trickling up to the F-650/750 just as often as the medium-duty technology trickles down. But, of course, what caught everyone's eye at the Work Truck Show was the Tonka-yellow dump truck based on the 2016 Ford F-750.
3. 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris
When the 2016 Mercedes-Benz Metris goes on sale later this fall, it will be the least expensive Mercedes vehicle in the U.S. Add to that the fact it can carry 2,500 pounds, tow almost 5,000 pounds, and will have a turbocharged 2.0-liter gas engine and seven-speed transmission, and you begin to see why Mercedes is so excited. This vehicle is called the Vito overseas (now you know why the name was changed) and is strictly a commercial hauler and people-mover. For the U.S., Mercedes is not ruling out the possibility of creating a premium trim package for family minivan buyers in the future. The vehicle will be the largest offering in the segment, which includes the Ford Transit Connect, Chevrolet Express City, Ram ProMaster City and Nissan NV200 as competitors. It will come in cargo and passenger versions, and pricing will start at less than $30,000 for the former and $34,000 for the latter.
4. Chevrolet Colorado Chassis Cab
Nothing says Work Truck Show like a box-delete option on a pickup truck. And to their credit, the engineers at Chevy are introducing the chassis-cab Colorado to a receptive and appreciative audience. The new Work Truck commercial package comes standard with the 3.6-liter V-6, 4×2 drivetrain, an extended cab, rear box delete, rear bumper delete, Class III trailer hitch, G80 limited-slip differential and full-size spare. The interior will have rubber mats but will offer electric power seats and windows. The box-delete option essentially saves customers $300, while the optional rear-seat delete will save $240. Pricing will start around $24,000.
5. Ram 3500 Cummins Manual Flatbed
There are plenty of eye-catching trucks at the Work Truck Show, but Ram's 3500 4×4 regular-cab Cummins manual with a stake bed in back and 41-inch-tall Super Swamper tires was very cool. The project truck is the creation of American Expedition Vehicles; we first saw it at the 2014 Specialty Equipment Marketing Association Show in Las Vegas. This time we got to crawl around the truck. As you might have guessed, it is impressive and has a price tag to prove it.
6. 'Jurassic Park' 4×4 Sprinter
Part four of "Jurassic Park" is slated to come out this summer, so Mercedes-Benz decided to bring out one of the stars from the blockbuster and put it on display at the show. This 4×4 Sprinter, which will be offered as a 2016 model, has quite a bit of customized paraphernalia on top and all around to protect it from wandering meat eaters. Two pairs of specially modified four-wheel-drive Sprinters are entered in the North African all-woman Aicha des Gazelles desert race as well. We'll be hearing more about that race, which runs March 20-April 4, in the future.
7. Big Tex Stacked Trailer Display
Like any trade show, the key to a successful display is luring people into your booth space. The folks at Big Tex Trailers generated buzz at the show by showing off how easy it is to transport its trailers with its own trailers. Looks like these might create a pretty impressive fort as well. We've used these flatbed gooseneck trailers in the past for towing tests, and we know they're strong and tough.
8. No Nissan Titan XD
One of the conspicuous absences at the Work Truck Show this year was the 2016 Nissan Titan XD that got so much attention and traffic at the in January. Nissan had a big display area where it showed quite a few NV1500 and 2500 full-size vans, as well as the compact NV200. But not a pickup truck was seen in the booth. Our guess is next year Nissan will make a pretty big splash with the XD, hoping to develop huge in-roads with commercial buyers who recognize the Cummins name and the strength of the XD frame.
Cars.com images by Mark Williams