With an issue focus on trucks in construction this month, we chatted with AUTOCAR’S vice president, Tim Thornton. Debuted in 2020, the DC-64 is Autocar’s answer to severe-duty construction and concrete jobs, and Tim shares his insight on why construction fleet owners should consider it for their next fleet purchase.
MWS: THIS ISSUE IS ALL ABOUT THE TRUCKS USED IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY. WHY SHOULD CONTRACTORS KEEP AUTOCAR ON THEIR RADAR WHEN PICKING A NEW TRUCK FOR THEIR FLEET?
THORNTON: Our goal at Autocar, LLC is to provide fleets with a truck that exceeds expectations on both performance and reliability. Whether it’s our work on rear-discharge DC-64M concrete mixers or the DC-64D dump trucks, we are customizing the chassis to the specific application. Many mixer and dump trucks tend to be a stock chassis that contractors fit to the body going onto the truck’s chassis. At Autocar, we work directly with the customer to understand what size and kind of body will be installed on the truck before we begin building, whether it be a dump, concrete pump, or rear-discharge mixer. Then, we work with the company supplying the body to engineer the truck chassis specifically to that body size and layout for a much cleaner and integrated truck design that will last longer, have fewer issues, and consistently work day in and day out.
MWS: WHAT SETS AUTOCAR APART FROM OTHER TRUCK MANUFACTURERS IN THE BUSINESS?
THORNTON: I think the most significant difference is that Autocar is a truly customer-centric business. We work directly with our customers to understand their needs and engineer the trucks to their specifications. Then, after the truck is delivered and in service, we continue to support them directly through our Customer Service or Autocar Solutions group.
So, if a customer has an issue, they can call or enter a ticket directly with us. One of our Autocar technicians will follow up with them within five to 10 minutes to help resolve their problem. From there, our factory trained technicians work directly with the owner or provide direction to the customer’s technicians to troubleshoot the problem, and we keep the ticket open until the customer signs off on the solution and the truck is back in service. Autocar Solutions will also work with dealers and service centers to ensure the truck is back in business. No matter where the unit is, we take ownership of making sure the unit gets fixed and back to the customer ready to work as quickly as possible.
MWS: WHICH AUTOCAR TRUCK IS BEST SUITED FOR THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
THORNTON: The Autocar truck most suited for the construction industry is our DC-64 severe-duty conventional chassis. We developed the truck and introduced it in 2020 for multiple construction applications, including concrete mixers, pump trucks, and the BADASS dump truck. The DC-64 is truly engineered for severe-duty applications, designed to withstand any challenge thrown its way, and to be the “go-to” truck for concrete and construction applications. Construction truck operators have to drive the truck to many different off-road sites that aren’t always easy to access, so we get excited when drivers comment on how they love driving their DC-64 and how comfortable and easy it is to drive. Like our other trucks, the DC-64 is built to be operator-friendly so that they love operating it for their jobs.
MWS: THERE SEEMS TO BE A DRIVER-CENTERED SHIFT IN TRUCK DESIGN THESE DAYS. WHAT KIND OF DRIVER-CENTERED FEATURES DOES THE DC-64 HAVE?
THORNTON: The DC-64 is designed for the operator’s comfort. The truck has 325-degree visibility with wraparound windshield glass, so it is easy to see in front of you with limited blind spots. It is also equipped with twin Sheppard 100 steering gears, helping make the truck easier to steer, which is one of the biggest things operators say they love about driving the truck. The DC-64 also has a 50-degree wheel cut and offers a tight turning radius, helping operators maneuver throughout the construction site and roads. It’s actually the feature that operators respond to and enjoy the most because of the twin Sheppard 100 steering gears and the tight wheel cut they provide. When people are in the construction business, maneuverability, turning radius, and turning ease are essential. The ease of use and drivability is one of the things that many of our repeat customers have commented on because it helps to get the job done faster. The steering design also helps reduce operator fatigue making for a safer work environment. These design factors help the operators feel more comfortable navigating the most challenging worksite.
All our trucks are also equipped with a 7-inch Smart Display on the dashboard, allowing operators to use its no distractions mode or toggle the display to find and identify fault codes and pull up the truck’s schematics if there is an issue.
MWS: WHAT FEATURES AND TECHNOLOGY DO THESE TRUCKS HAVE THAT IMPROVE SAFETY?
THORNTON: I have already mentioned how driver visibility is an important feature for us, but we are also in the process of introducing our Advanced Driver Assist System (ADAS). The system is currently available on the Autocar ACX cabover models and helps to provide operators with an active safety system. ADAS includes features for blindside detection, forward collision mitigation, and has undergone extensive testing for its rollover stability control and advanced emergency braking system (AEBS) to help provide refuse operators with an additional layer of safety. The AEBS will actively engage the brakes of the truck if preceding warning signals are ignored in the event of an impending collision.
MWS: DOES AUTOCAR OFFER AFTER SALES SERVICES?
THORNTON: Customers can enter a ticket with us and get one of our factory trained service technicians on the phone, chat, or by email. In addition, all Autocar trucks include a telematics system that allows operators and technicians to remotely access fault codes to determine what may have caused an issue. We can then assist with solutions through remote diagnostics and troubleshooting using telematics. Autocar also offers customers the option to add extended service warranties.
MWS: ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS?
THORNTON: Autocar has been in the vocational trucking business for decades. Only recently we re-entered the severe-duty conventional truck space with the DC, predominantly used within the construction industry. So, a lot of people are not yet aware of Autocar Truck as a player for dump or mixer trucks. As the word gets out, we get more people that learn the benefits of having Autocar as a partner to support their business.
We may only be getting started with our DC-64 severe-duty conventional truck, but we plan to become the leader in purpose-built trucks and provide the best tools for the construction market.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Tim Thornton is vice president at Autocar, LLC. Joining the company in 2020, Thornton tackled building a commercialization process and structure for the DC-64 severe-duty conventional truck. Find out more, visit www.autocartruck.com.