Launching a Legend

“We set out to design a legend.” That’s how Stu Russoli, Mack’s highway marketing manager, describes the challenge the Mack project team accepted: build a new, aerodynamic, highway truck while staying true to the Mack brand. The result? Mack Anthem™.

Anthem arrives with a dramatic new design incorporating the legendary Mack look with state-of-the art aerodynamics and driver comfort. Everything about the new truck, including the name Anthem, is rooted in tradition, pride and hardworking American values. And as a Mack, Anthem had to be built for customers’ businesses, while being designed for drivers.

The challenge was threefold: First, build an unmistakably Mack-look truck extending the brand’s identity in a modern way; second, offer outstanding aerodynamics (up to 3 percent improvement) and efficiency; and third, create revolutionary driver comfort. “All three characteristics were considered equal,” Russoli says. 

“It was so important to get this right. The new version had to have state-of-the-art efficiency while still exuding Mack’s strong, bold look,” says Dennis Slagle, president of Mack Trucks.

While the Anthem’s bold look is apparent, a little less apparent but equally compelling is the improved efficiency. Anthem is a fuel-saving machine, engineered to reduce maintenance costs and maximize Uptime. Anthem’s cab design and driver environment are built around the way work gets done on the road, keeping drivers comfortable, safe and focused all day long.

A Mack® by design

“This is clearly a Mack truck with the brand’s lineage and heritage obvious in the design,” says Jonathan Randall, senior vice president of sales for North America. During the design process and “sneak peeks” at the truck, customers agree they loved all the cutting-edge features designed to save fuel, reduce maintenance costs and maximize uptime, but it’s the focus on the driver that seals the deal. 

That’s why Mack’s designers and engineers made driver comfort a top priority, and spent a lot of time asking truckers to describe features they want in a truck. Their answers reflect the pride of ownership and the passion behind generations of Mack owners. It was clear to those customers who previewed the truck that drivers influenced the design from bolts to bunk.

“You can tell Mack went out to drivers and asked them what they wanted. You guys got it right, and I can’t wait to order some trucks,” says Tom Hassel, president of Tom Hassel Transport in Point Pleasant, New Jersey. Hassel’s thumbs up was a refrain heard from fleet managers and drivers alike. “It’s going to be the sharpest truck on the road,” says Brian Rushton, vice president of asset management for Clean Harbors, in Norwell, Massachusetts.

The mission

Designing and building the Anthem was a massive undertaking, but John Walsh, vice president of global marketing and brand management, says Mack was up to the challenge. 

Walsh says everyone stepped up. “We’re the American truck you can count on, and that means not only products but people. And our people delivered in a big way with this project.”

It’s hard to overstate the passion for all things Mack felt by generations of Mack truck owners. And that same passion energized and inspired the designers and engineers charged with creating the new Mack Anthem. 

Design and build

Herve Bertrand, Mack design director, was there from the first line sketched to the start of production. Throughout, he kept Mack’s hardworking heritage top of mind. Bertrand and his team scoured Mack’s legacy, which drove home just how key simplicity and durability are to Mack’s design DNA.

Other influences came from historical photos of the building of Hoover Dam and the Chrysler and Empire State buildings, always showing a working man in a hardhat operating a Mack truck — Mack was there and always played an important role. The Mack design team also looked to contemporary architecture and design, as well as art deco for a sense of style that reflects timeless modernity. 

“The connection with steel beams and hard workers is expressed by Anthem’s vertical design, an extract of almost architectural feel and motion,” he says.

“You want to honor the past, but then again, you want to create a simple design that is an instant classic. A truck that won’t be dated in 30 years, but will be considered timeless,” Bertrand says.

The team reviewed several design proposals in sketch form, then clay models and finally, arrived at two full-size models with competing designs. Ultimately, consensus was reached and the best attributes of both models merged into what would become the Anthem. 

To achieve that simple, but classic look, they counterbalanced design with materials and worked with suppliers to redefine craftsmanship. For example, the grab handles went through design evolutions that took in driver safety and comfort factors and are now larger and heavier visually, but hollow and lighter. Every Anthem feature displays this kind of attention to design, detail and craftsmanship.

Bertrand says that while they wanted to create Anthem with a love at first sight feel, they made sure it had the potential for a long-term relationship. “This was not going to be just a fling,” he says with a laugh.

Customer first

When it came to the Anthem’s interior, customer input was one of the strongest influencers. Customer clinics included drivers, owner-­operators, fleet owners and fleet professionals.

“We went through several models of the interiors, says Bertrand, “inviting customers to see the various versions in their formation and the progress based on their feedback.”

Mack reworked details such as the quality of the bunk’s mattress, and the exact dimensions, location and quantity of the storage spaces. The quest for state-of-the-art driver comfort included a focus on lighting, decreasing vibrations and conducting motion tests to ensure the cab was as silent as possible. “We really wanted to offer a comfortable, safe environment to protect their sleeping patterns,” Bertrand says.

The stand-up cab design that accommodates even very tall drivers is one of the most dramatic changes and one that drivers consider a game-changer. 

Other design features influenced by driver input include overall ergonomics, LED lighting, sturdy grab handles, a flat bottom steering wheel and a dashboard that’s entirely well-lit, durable and functional. “We really worked on the durability of the vehicle. We want them to have second and third lives,” Bertrand says.

Built for business 

While customers love the look of Anthem, it’s the truck’s efficiency that drives the business decision to place orders.

Anthem’s advanced aerodynamics and other design features are engineered to save fuel and reduce maintenance costs, all while maximizing uptime. It runs on Mack’s integrated powertrain that combines the ease of operation of the Mack mDRIVE™ transmission with the performance and fuel-efficiency of the Mack MP engine series. To increase uptime, Mack’s Uptime Center is staffed by trained technicians, offering 24/7 parts and service management support. 

The aerodynamics dramatically improve efficiency by displacing air to the sides as well as over the hood and roof. Anthem cuts wind resistance and improves fuel economy by up to 3 percent.

With Mack® Connect, an exclusive productivity solution, fleet managers can operate intelligent software, predictive analytics, and driver assist technologies all aimed at increasing operational efficiency and Uptime.

Anthem reaction

Upon seeing the Anthem for the first time, customers, dealers and Mack employees have described it as bold, strong, authentic, classic, legendary, sharp, powerful, and one unsurprising word that came up time and again: badass. 

Bertrand describes Anthem as a future classic, “something that never ages and that you always refer to. It’s got eternal value such as a Zippo lighter,” he says.

Customers are equally enthusiastic. “This will put Mack back into the sleeper market. It will put Mack in a different league in the industry,” says Mark Warsofsky, president of M&M Transport Service in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. 

Mack’s Russoli echoes what customers say. “The truck screams strong and authentic. When you see it, it’s a head-turner.” Randy Maddox, with Adams Products, an OldCastle company in Asheville, North Carolina, describes the Anthem as “a beautiful piece of machinery. It’s machine and man together and creates an aggressive and powerful look.”

The one drawback? “My only problem is once I buy one, the whole fleet is going to want me to buy one for them to drive,” says Jose Castro, owner/president of JC Express of Fresno, Texas.  


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