ROANOKE VALLEY, VA — Mack launched the Mack MD series of medium-duty trucks that will produced at the new manufacturing plant in Virginia. Mack plans to invest $13 million in the plant and add 250 jobs.

“Mack Trucks is very proud to make this investment and to now offer a full lineup of Class 6 to Class 8 commercial vehicles, serving virtually every segment of the market,” says Mack President Martin Weissburg. “With this investment, Mack is well-positioned for future success, and we’re taking orders for the new truck beginning today.”

The announcement also means Mack’s Lower Macungie Township plant, which employs about 2,300, will no longer be the company’s only assembly plant for the North American market. The Lower Macungie plant, which has been assembling all Mack vehicles for North America since 2009, manufactures the company’s heavy-duty lineup, which includes semi-trucks, construction and garbage trucks.

“This announcement has no impact on heavy-duty Class 8 production at [Lehigh Valley Operations],” says Mack spokesman Christopher Heffer. “The new Mack MD Series will be built at Mack’s Roanoke Valley Operations because it’s a totally different product from what our current industrial system is set up to assemble — it’s a completely different platform.”

The announcement confirms Mack’s long-rumored reentrance into the medium-duty truck market. Last February, The Morning Call reported that Mack was working on a project in the Salem area, near Roanoke, and hiring engineers there. Mack and its parent, the Sweden-based Volvo Group, had declined to answer questions at the time about whether the project was related to a potential medium-duty truck line.

The new truck line will allow Mack to compete in the medium-duty space against Freightliner, International, Ford, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Isuzu, Hino and General Motors. Mack had competed in the space with its Mid-Liner, which was replaced with the introduction of the Mack Freedom series in 2001, a medium-duty cab-over truck that was made in France by Renault.

The MD series will include the MD6, a Class 6 model with a gross vehicle weight rating of 25,995 pounds, and the MD7, a Class 7 model with a gross vehicle weight rating of 33,000 pounds. The new trucks, Mack said, could be used for applications such as dry/refrigerated vans, dump bodies, flatbeds and tankers.

Mack said it used the look of its highway truck, Anthem, for the basis of the medium-duty truck’s grille and hood design. MD6 model doesn’t require a commercial driver’s license to operate, making it easier for customers to find drivers and operators.

Mack’s investment also was touted by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, whose office said in a release that Virginia competed with sites in several other states for the project. Heffner declined to disclose the other states that were considered, but Pennsylvania was not one of them, according to the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

The $13 million Mack is investing in its Roanoke Valley Operations will be used for equipment, tooling and building enhancements within an existing 280,000-square-foot facility just outside Salem.