Mack Trucks is building out its presence in the Canadian heavy-duty electric truck sector with series of new EV-related offeringsVehicles
Apr 19, 2022
Mehanaz Yakub

From launching a Vehicle-as-a-Service program to offering customers range calculators and opening a certified electric vehicle dealer in Canada, Mack Trucks is committed to accelerating EV adoption since unveiling its first Mack LR Electric truck in 2021

U.S.-based truck manufacturer Mack Trucks is expanding its Canadian footprint with recent investments in its North American electric truck offerings and supporting infrastructure. Photo: Mack Trucks

From launching a Vehicle-as-a-Service program to offering customers range calculators and opening a certified electric vehicle dealer in Canada, Mack Trucks is committed to accelerating EV adoption since unveiling its first Mack LR Electric truck in 2021

U.S.-based truck manufacturer Mack Trucks is expanding its Canadian footprint with recent investments in its North American electric truck offerings and supporting infrastructure.

Mack’s new EV-centric initiatives include two Canada-available Class 8 LR Electric models, a Vehicle-as-a-Service program, a range calculator for suitability planning and a new certified Canadian dealership. The dedicated activity is positioning Mack as a leader in heavy-duty commercial electric vehicles in Canada as well as demonstrating the potential they see in having a meaningful presence in the Canadian EV market.

Currently, Mack’s flagship electric Class 8 truck is one of seven electric trucks available to Canadian customers and is marketed as a refuse model.

Mack Trucks did not respond to Electric Autonomy Canada‘s requests for an interview, but recent public announcements paint a clear picture of how the company is moving strategically in Canada’s EV space, which is coinciding with a government push to advance heavy-duty EV adoption.

In the recent 2022 budget, the federal government promised to invest $547.5 million over the next four years in a new Transport Canada purchase incentive program for medium- and heavy-duty ZEVs. It is putting over $199 million towards suitability assessments for fleets that want to retrofit existing combustion trucks to non-emitting and is also investing $500 million in charging infrastructure for commercial and heavy-duty vehicles.

With the government ramping up its efforts to incentivize heavy-duty fleets to switch to non-emitting, Mack’s initiatives could doubly benefit from unprecedented government support in transitioning heavy-duty fleets in Canada and overall market expectations for turn-key electric vehicle solutions.

Vehicle-as-a-service program

Last year Mack unveiled its first Class 8 LR Electric truck. The vehicles are being assembled and exported from Mack’s Lehigh Valley Operations facility in Pennsylvania, which manufactures all of the company’s electric vehicles for North America. The vehicle went into full production in December 2021 and the truck maker has been working to build out its supporting services for customers transitioning to non-emitting transportation in harmony with vehicle deliveries.

With the second generation of the LR Electric trucks now available for order in Canada (this latest model boasts a longer range and 42 per cent more energy, says the company), Mack, along with its in-house Mack Financial Services, has also launched a Vehicle-as-a-Service (VaaS) program to help North American customers manage the costs involved with purchasing the vehicle.

VaaS is a subscription-based service agreement that offers customers the flexibility of renting vehicles to better understand the costs and figure out how a vehicle will fit in with their particular use cases. It is a lower risk method of integrating and transitioning to electric vehicles and used across the market from passenger vehicles to commercial.

Mack Trucks is providing its customers with its own VaaS program for its two EV models. This will give fleet operators the ability to finance the purchase of the electric truck over a period of a five-year lease, with single monthly payments and the option to renew at the end of the term.

“The Mack Vehicle-as-a-Service program is designed to address any customer hesitations in adopting electromobility by offering zero upfront costs,” said George Fotopoulos, Mack’s vice president of the e-mobility business unit in a press note.

“Mack took this approach because we believe in BEV technology…we want to accelerate industry adoption of this technology.”

The fee for the program covers payment for the truck itself, applicable taxes and membership to Mack Ultra Service Agreement, which includes scheduled maintenance, uptime services, roadside assistance, battery monitoring and a battery performance guarantee.

Customers can also access different insurance coverages, make claims, and manage other insurance-related needs with Mack Financial Services’ new integrated digital insurance platform.

In addition, the company is offering the option to bundle charging infrastructure and installations into a single invoice for “qualified customers.”

Mack has not yet disclosed the pricing of its electric trucks or whether it will be eligible for heavy-duty rebates in Quebec or British Columbia, which are the only two provinces offering purchase incentives. The first model of the LR Electric was eligible for the CleanBC Go Electric Specialty Use Vehicle Incentive (SUVI) program which provides up to $100,000 per heavy-duty electric vehicle, and the Ecocamionnage Program in Quebec that gives up to $175,000 per heavy-duty EV.

At the time, Mack said it wanted its electric trucks to qualify for rebates in order to “help improve the total cost of ownership for customers while making the purchase of zero-emission vehicles more cost-effective for customers operating in all market segments.”

Range calculator

Recognizing that customer uncertainty about use-case suitability is a barrier to making the switch from diesel to electric trucks, Mack Truck’s latest EV offering is a range calculator for its EVs to help fleets plan and build routes for the Mack LR Electric truck based on route-specific variables.  

The range calculator takes into consideration the battery capacity, refuse body application type, ambient temperature, terrain, and the number of stops on a specific route. According to Mack, this will allow fleets to estimate and plan for the energy that will be used on the route.

“The Range Calculator for Electric Vehicles is a useful tool for customers and potential customers so when they’re making the decision about whether to purchase an electric vehicle,” said Scott Barraclough, Mack Trucks’ senior product manager of e-mobility in press materials.

“The tool is easy to use and can predict when the vehicle should need to be charged, if necessary so that the proper planning can be made.”

Mack is planning to produce a report projecting the number of starts and stops the LR Electric can complete on a certain route using past GPS data. Increased payload, regenerative braking, and the time spent at each stop are all factors taken into account by the calculation.

Dealer EV certification

To accommodate for the arrival of their new line of electric trucks, Mack is expanding its network of certified electric vehicles dealerships from the U.S. up into Canada. The truck maker already has EV-certified dealers in California and Idaho and said in a press release: “many more are working toward achieving EV Certification status.” In April, Mack announced it has been working with Mack Laval’s Dorval facility in Quebec to help the dealer become the first in Canada to provide services and support for the LR Electric truck.

“This achievement expands Mack’s leadership in electromobility and further exemplifies the commitment Mack and its dealers have to zero tailpipe emissions,” said Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks’ senior vice president of sales and commercial operations, in a statement.

To obtain the EV certification, Mack Laval was required to pass a series of safety, charging, infrastructure, tooling and training prerequisites and facility upgrades.

Mack Laval has six bays for battery-electric truck maintenance and repairs, as well as two charging stations. There are also eight technicians, including one foreman and one trainer, that are EV-certified, as well as 10 master technicians.

“We believe investing in electrification makes good business sense because the transportation industry is moving toward e-mobility,” said Jean-Francois Bibeau, vice president and general manager of Mack Laval in an announcement about the certification.

“We are proud to be the first Mack dealer in Canada to achieve EV Certified Dealer status, and we look forward to supporting Mack customers as demand for the Mack LR Electric continues to grow.”

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