The trucks below are major players in the industry. The three we are comparing are from the same class of utility trucks. They are also at the same playing level with respect to diesel engines.
International 4700 - This utility truck in equipped with 210 horsepower and a Fuller 6-speed transmission. The motor is a DT466E diesel. These trucks from International check in at a heavy 34,000 GVW. The 4,700 pounds provides plenty of torque for operators that need such. However, the International is somewhat lacking in power. With the 34,000 GVW 210 hp seems rather light, comparatively speaking. Most owners of these trucks eventually get a power upgrade from their local diesel mechanic. Overall, the International brand holds value well and is one of the most reliable and long lasting vehicles for utility trucks.
Ford Cherry Picker Trucks - These trucks use the 7.3L Powerstroke Diesel and have 275 horsepower. Ford utilizes almost the exact same motor, but they have labeled theirs T444E. These 7.3L engines are available in applications above 60,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating. They have strong engines that power slightly lighter trucks than International brand. The main difference between these and the Internationals are the components that Ford did make. The strength of axels and the transmission is a major factor. At the end of the day, Ford is considered to have a better transmission.
Chevrolet Medium Duty Trucks - This utility truck has the Kodiak C5500 and comes with 6.6L diesel as well as an Allison 5-speed automatic transmission. These high-quality motors put out 242 horsepower and have a middle-of-the-road amount of torque. While the Kodiak C5500's are not as popular as the two previous, they still hold a solid market share in the bucket truck industry. The availability of cheap parts keeps these utility trucks in high demand, which makes the overall maintenance of your company's bucket trucks much more cost-efficient.
Now that you have read the un-biased and fast guide to the trucks that hold aerial lift devices, how do you know which utility truck is right for you? The simple answer is the one that gets you to the job site safely, reliably, and the most cost-efficient.
Once you figure out what kind of utility truck you are buying, you need to figure out who you'll be buying from. I am consistent with my suggestions about finding a quality dealer that you can trust. Making a buying mistake in this industry is normally a very expensive mistake, so don't hang yourself out to dry. Do your research and find a reputable utilty truck dealer before you buy anything.
This article is brought to you by Meredith Nunnally. Meredith works with the owners of Southwest Equipment to bring the most knowledge and up-to-date information about the bucket truck industry to paper. (or in this case, your computer screen)