Company drivers found themselves on the sweet end of a growing trend...
Slide-Out Cabs Offer Space
If a recreational vehicle can be fitted with a slide-out room, why can’t a truck cab? That’s the question Scott McKinnon asked himself, and it’s leading him to great places. Or should I say spaces?
McKinnon is a specialty sales manager for Lippert Components, Elkhart, Ind., which manufactures slide-outs for RVs. It occurred to him that truck drivers face even greater space challenges than people traveling in an RV.
“There’s not too many truck stops with playgrounds and picnic tables and outside lounging areas where you can have a campfire or anything like an RV,” says McKinnon. “They’re pretty much locked into sleeping, staying and being in that truck.”
McKinnon began researching and developing a slide-out for truck cabs about eight months ago, and he already has test models installed in two trucks. Kelvin Locklear, famous in the trucking community for his role on CMT’s “Trick My Truck” reality show, performed with the installation.
Locklear plans to work with mechanics on both coasts to create a network of certified slide-out installers. Once the product has been proven on the aftermarket, it may be picked up by tractor manufacturers.
The slide-out extends from the back of the cab and measures 38 inches deep by 64 inches wide and 70 inches tall. It comes with two options: a king-size sleeper sofa or a dinette booth that converts into a bed. Options that pull down from the aero-dynamic space above the ceiling are in the works to allow customers more customization.
The slide-outs use automated opening and closing functions, but they can also be closed manually in case of malfunction. The fact that they extend from the rear of the cab means they will not take up extra parking space when deployed.
“We feel this is something the industry will latch on to very soon,” says Locklear. “It’s definitely cutting edge. Drivers are always trying to get more room, but you really can’t make the trucks any longer.”
Lippert expects the slide-outs to cost no more than 10 percent of the tractor’s value. They add around 200 pounds of weight.
Already, McKinnon’s creation has met with approval from Old Dominion Truck Leasing. President Jeff Congdon is considering installing them in some of the company’s vehicles to help recruit drivers.
“Driver recruitment for over-the-road drivers who are going to be gone for a week or two at a time is getting to be tough lately,” says Congdon. “If we can make them as comfortable as possible, that’s what we want to do.”
McKinnon hopes to make an appearance later this month at the Mid-American Trucking Show, March 27-29, in Louisville, Ky., to debut the product. One of the test models will also be on display at the Shell Rotella SuperRigs custom semi show May 15-17 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. If all goes well, production will begin this fall, and McKinnon has set a target date of March 2015 for major truck manufacturers to include the slide-outs as an option on heavy-duty models.