Commercial and government fleet purchasers prioritize versatility and seek to enhance productivity when considering which heavy-duty pickup to add to their fleet.
While 1/2-ton pickups such as the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and Ram 1500 make up the lion's share of the sales volume to fleet buyers, bigger brothers such as the F-250/F-350, Silverado 2500HD/3500HD, and Ram 2500/3500 offer more towing power, camera systems, and upfitting options.
"Trucks are a primary part of the work site," said Kevin Koester, Ford's medium duty truck and Super Duty fleet marketing manager. "To that point, anything that can make a fleet more productive is getting attention."
Ford redesigned its Super Duty trucks for the 2017 model year to add strength and capability, while reducing about 300 pounds of weight with extensive use of aluminum body panels. Ford reinforced the trucks' high-strength steel frames.
General Motors' Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD — along with thier GMC Sierra HD twins — added an available 6.6L V-8 turbo-diesel Duramax engine and a hood air intake port for 2017 that enhances the power and towing capability of the trucks.
"Full-size trucks are very versatile vehicles that fit a very wide array of applications, which is why our fleet customers are drawn to them," said Daniel Tigges, commercial product and sales support manager at GM Fleet. "We see a lot of utility, construction and landscaping companies being drawn to the 2500HD, while the 3500HD is popular with government fleets, companies that tow and customers who have specialized needs like dumps and service bodies."
Buyers of the Ram 2500 typically include utility and energy fleets, delivery fleets, and construction fleets, while goverment fleets are more likely to opt for the Ram 3500. The Ram 3500 is also utilizied by fleet swith greater towing and hauling needs ot specialty uses such as towing equipment to job sites, according to Ralph Kisiel, a Fiat-Chrysler spokesman.
Each of the trucks offer impressive work specs with capabilities to enable heavier payloads and towing jobs.
"The differences between the Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD are most significantly payload and trailering capability — therefore customers make their choice between the two based on need," Tigges said. "The Silverado 2500HD outsells the 3500HD with the crew cab being the most popular configuration."
While the 2017 F-250 provides a maximum payload of 4,200 pounds, the F-350 can haul 7,630 pounds of payload. With a conventional towing set-up and single-rear wheels, the F-250 and F-350 can tow up to 18,000 pounds.
The 2017 Silverado 2500HD carries a maximum payload rating of 3,534 pounds, while the 3500HD can haul 7,153 pounds. The 2500HD can tow 18,100 and the 3500HD can tow up to 23,300 pounds (with a dual rear wheel model).
The 2017 Ram 2500 can haul up to 3,060 pounds and tow up to 17,980 pounds. The diesel-powered 2017 Ram 3500 can haul up to 6,720 pounds and tow up to 31,210 pounds (with a dual rear wheel model).
These 3/4-ton and 1-ton trucks offer other features not available with the 1/2-ton pickups. Ford offers Trailer Reverse Guidance that uses three high-resolution cameras to provide multiple views and steering guidance graphics. The driver can see a view of the trailer adjusting as it turns to become better informed about the surroundings so they're less likely to hit another vehicle, pedestrians or fixed objects.
Fleets are also asking for an upfitter interface module that allows fleets to cut upfit time and reduce the need for upfitters to cut into the system's wiring to add auxiliary equipment. The upfitter can also configure parameter for operation so equipment rather than an on/off state.
As for trim grades, most fleets purchase the XL when buying a Ford truck, Koester said. Tow fleets often upgrade to XLT to add chrome to looks and visibility on a roadside. Regular cab remains strong among fleet buyers, while SuperCab and Crew Cab give smaller crews what they need.
Buyers of the Ram 2500 and Ram 3500 also consider ergonomic factors such as greater lumbar support for drivers, Kisiel said.