FREIGHTLINER'S new Business Class M2 line of medium and vocational trucks is now in production at the company's Mount Holly, North Carolina, plant. Initially, the plant is building 106-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab M2s, but crew cab and extended cab units will enter production in the fourth quarter.

Currently, plant workers are building 20 of the M2 model trucks daily. Forty to 50 of the original Business Class trucks also roll off the production line each day. The original Business Class model will be phased out over a 24-month period.

Trucking trade press editors had a chance to tour the M2 production line in August. They saw a production facility that was completely transformed over an 18-month period to accommodate the new M2 truck. Freightliner spent $54 million on the conversion effort.

More than 80% of the facility's 616,000 square feet of manufacturing space were modified and/or replaced with new equipment and processes. Conveyors, robots, and specially designed electrical test equipment provide crucial production line flexibility.

Freightliner invested $22 million in the cab assembly system alone. That section of the plant has 23 robots and 70 electric Servo and hydraulic Henrob guns. Robotics and automation also are used to produce aluminum fuel tanks for Class 5-8 trucks.

New M2 models

As a part of the plant tour, trade press editors also had an opportunity to see the latest variants of the Business Class M2. Customers were able to begin ordering extended cab and crew cab versions of the M2 starting in October.

The extended cab version of the M2 has a 132-inch BBC, 26 inches longer than the standard 106-inch BBC M2. A 24-inch-wide bunk that meets Department of Transportation requirements is available for sleeper applications. The bunk option includes a cab privacy curtain and a 12-inch deep under-bunk storage compartment.

For improved interior lighting and visibility in the bunk area, the extended cab M2 has 460 square inches of tinted glass on each side. Optional bunk windows that tip out for ventilation are available. The one-piece, 882-square-inch rear window offers unobstructed visibility.

The extended cab also can be specified with or without rear seats, and is designed for applications in towing, specialty hauling, emergency rescue, and ambulance service. It has enough interior room to seat four people comfortably. Two optional jump seats face forward and fold up when not in use.

Even more interior room is available with the Business Class M2 crew cab, which has a 154-inch BBC. It can seat up to six occupants, including the driver.

A variety of seating options are available, including air-suspended seats and bench seats for both front and rear. The front and rear doors have been redesigned and offer improved entry and exit.