The CDL (commercial driver’s license) driver market, while already experiencing a shortage, could possibly be impacted, long-term, by COVID-19, as well. That’s going to mean an even more serious shortage of qualified, CDL drivers – at least temporarily.
In response to this shortage, some distributors for certain routes are depending on non-CDL beverage truck bodies to get the job completed. Ordinarily, a driver does not need to possess a CDL to operate a vehicle with a GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of less than 26,000 pounds. When a trailer is involved, there can be a bit of augmentation regarding federal requirements. A CDL is required by the driver if 26,000 pounds is exceeded by the combination weight of the truck and trailer.
Let’s take a look at what today’s manufacturers are putting forth in the way of non-CDL beverage truck bodies.
With regional distribution in mind, Volvo’s VNR model is designed and can be spec’d for the non-CDL, lower GVWR. For example, the VNR 300, to provide optimal performance in urban delivery, features a daycab that is precisely designed. With an output of 424 down to 325 hp, it’s powered by the Volvo D11 engine.
Rollout of an all-electric version of this vehicle was scheduled by 2020’s end. Production is now slated to start early in 2021. One aspect of Volvo’s LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) project, this electric vehicle is a collaboration among over a dozen private and public partners to demonstrate all electric hauling viability in both urban and high-density traffic areas.
CDL’s are not required to operate Ford’s Transit Cutaway and Transit Van. The same applies to Ford’s E- Series Chassis Cab/Cutaway and Chassis Cab. In fact, where Ford’s Chassis Cabs are concerned, all F-450 to F600 have a GVWR less than 22,000 pounds. Also, for Ford’s medium-duty F-650, below the CDL-required threshold, there are a number of options (depending on specs). With a rating between 26,000 pounds down to 22,000 pounds GVWR, the F-650 Pro Loader has both diesel and gasoline options.
For its N-Series low cab forward trucks, two new gasoline engine vehicles were unveiled by Isuzu in March:
- Class 4 NPR-HD and/or Class 3 NPR 6.6 L V8
- Class 5 6.0 L V-8 (19,500-pound GVWR NRR and/or 17,950-pound GVWR NQR)
In June, production started on these models.
Another vehicle that fits the bill is the Class 6 T270 by Kenworth. Available as a straight truck, to broaden a company’s fleet driver pool, it can be configured for non-CDL operation. Optional are collision mitigation systems and adaptive cruise. Also available are automated transmissions, automatic, or manual.
One of the most attractive features of this vehicle is a 90° tilting hood that allows, to all service points and to the engine, wide-open access. It offers 750-pound-feet of torque, and 325 hp with its PACCAR PX-7engine.
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