Navistar has given its International HX Series, first introduced in 2016, a major overhaul, bringing in modern technology and driver-focused features while keeping a classic look. It believes the new severe-service truck will help it expand its presence in the construction market.
The new HX Series is available in both a set-forward axle HX520 and a set-back axle HX620. Both vehicles are now available for order and deliveries will start early next year. When the truck goes into production in January in International’s Escobido, Mexico, plant where the current HX is made, it will be a “flip-the-switch” change where the old and new versions of the truck do not overlap.
“The new HX Series represents our most comfortable, durable, technologically integrated and driver-focused severe-service truck ever,” said Mark Stasell, vice president, vocational truck, Navistar. “It is the physical representation of our Navistar 4.0 strategy – putting the customer at the center of everything we do.”
The new HX is the first project out of Navistar’s 4.0 strategy and its Project Compass initiative.
Navistar 4.0 is centered around building sustainable success. “Navistar 4.0. has really changed the way we work,” said Stasell, and ensures the customer’s voice is heard. Project Compass is how the company is bringing to market its new generation of products, with a focus on flexible, modular design to meet customer needs, streamline the customer experience, and deliver top-notch service and support.
“Navistar 4.0 and Project Compass are focused on putting the customer at the center of everything that we do, and that customer focus is crystal clear in our brand new HX Series,” said Friedrich Baumann, president, sales, marketing, and aftersales.
Meet the New International HX
The approach of the 4.0 strategy is evident in the new extreme-duty steel cab, based on the cab for the LT series. Navistar added structural reinforcement in key locations and added a triple layer of corrosion protection to stand up to severe-duty conditions. The use of high-strength steel in strategic locations means the cab is comparable to aluminum cabs in weight.
The cab is protected by ChemGuard on the outside, LineX on the interior, and International Truck’s own topcoat process, making it nearly impenetrable to salt, according to company officials. Demonstrating the corrosion resistance of the cab, the new HX Series is backed by a 10-year perforation warranty.
Municipal fleets that use the HX for snow plowing were the catalyst for Navistar adding the LineX floor option to the cab. They had demonstrated that a lot of corrosion starts from the inside. Drivers get into the cab with snow, salt, and other corrosive materials on their work boots, and that seeps under the flooring and corrodes the cab floor from the inside out.
Out front, a three-piece composite hood is crack-resistant, strong and engineered to offer outstanding front-forward visibility.
Looking to a heritage that dates back to 1907 when International first started making vocational trucks, the HX exterior pays homage to more classic trucks, including the 9900i from the late 1990s/early 2000s. For instance, it comes with functional dual external air cleaners, offering increased filtration critical when running in dusty environments while maintaining an old-school look many drivers prefer. All marker lights have been replaced with LEDs for superior nighttime visibility and reduced frequency of repair. The new HX Series is also customizable with optional stainless-steel visors, bright finish mirrors, and additional stainless-steel options.
Inside the new extreme-duty cab, the focus was on the driver. The overall cab size has been increased, giving drivers more belly room and more room between the pedals and the back wall. Doors open wider for easier entrance and exit. It features what Navistar calls “best-in-class” heating and air conditioning. Larger power windows improve visibility.
The new cab also is available with International Truck’s newest and highest trim package, Diamond Elite, including a new line of premium heated and ventilated seats.
Integrated driver assist technology from Bendix helps improve driver awareness and safety. Navistar has offered the Bendix Fusion system in the past, and it’s now an option on the HX as well. The sensors on the front are protected from harsh jobsites with a special cover. Asked about whether this type of technology is gaining acceptance in the vocational market, Bruce Vasbinder, director severe service product marketing at International Truck, noted that update overall is being driven by trends regarding insurance costs and liability litigation. On the vocational side, he said, “We are seeing a climb in the take rate, but not as fast as on-highway.”
The new HX Series comes standard with the International A26 engine, delivering up to 500 hp in a lightweight package. Both the HX520 and HX620 models can be ordered with the Cummins X15 engine, with a variety of ratings up to 605 hp and 2,050 lb-ft of torque.
When asked about penetration of its proprietary A26 engine, officials said about 25% have been taking the A26 with the balance the Cummins. “We have seen the A26 have an increase year over year, as more customers are aware of it and try it we see an increase in that penetration,” Vasbinder said.
The new HX Series features Eaton Fuller manual transmissions, Eaton Ultrashift automated manual transmissions, or the Allison 4000 Series Transmissions. The automated manual and automatic transmissions are controlled through International Truck’s intuitive stalk shifter control that allows drivers to keep their eyes on the job.
The automatic and automated transmissions are becoming more and more popular, Vasbinder said, with manuals on the way out. Allison still has about 40% in this segment, he said, with the Eaton automated at about 20% and the manuals making up the other 40%.
The HX is available with dual steering gears and advanced antilock braking systems for superior turning, traction and control.
The HX Series continues to offer a high-strength 12.5” x 0.5” single-rail frame option delivering 3.5M RBM to withstand heavy loads. The HX also includes a Huck-bolted frame and cross members on the chassis that minimize movement and wear. The new Hendrickson Haulmaax HMX-EX Suspension brings improved reliability and increased job site ratings.
A wide range of factory-installed lift axles from Watson and Chalin are available, and International now offers the option for all controls to be placed in the wing panel of the dashboard for improved ergonomics and appearance.
For the rare occasions when a driver does get stuck, a front tow pin option is rated up to 150,000 pounds.
A Connected Severe Service Truck
International Truck has integrated the Diamond Logic electrical system into the new HX Series. This is an integrated, easily programmable and customizable electrical system that operates directly from the dash. It decreases body installation labor, increases uptime and safety, and allows drivers to more easily operate truck bodies.
“Gone are the days of awkward control boxes mounted between the seats,” said Stasell. Diamond Logic offers an integrated, customizable system that operates from the dash, decreases body installation time, and increases driver productivity.
The new HX Series is supported through OnCommand Connection, the company’s real-time remote diagnostics system. All HX Series customers will have visibility into the health of their fleet, making it easier to manage maintenance and repair. This technology allows International Truck and its service network to predict parts needs, so dealers have inventory on shelves where and when it’s needed.
The new HX Series is also backed by International 360 – the service communications and fleet management platform that makes it easier to seamlessly communicate with the International service network for fleets of all makes.
The International HX was first introduced in 2016 as a premium vocational model to replace the PayStar. Although the new HX uses the same chassis as before, company officials said this is more than just a “refresh.”
“It feels like a new truck from the ground up when you’ve done that much significant product change,” Stasell said. “We heard loud and clear that customers loved the way the original HX looked, the maneuverability, the strength of the frame, so we kept those things as kind of touchpoints to the original.”
Company officials point out that Navistar offers a range of vocational trucks from Class 4 through Class 8. The HX has been tweaked to provide a clearer delineation between it and the HV that was rolled out in 2018, which offers smaller, lighter engines than the HX. The HX comes with a 120-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab length on the set-forward axle version and 119 inches on the setback axle truck. Gone are shorter BBCs, but the HV is offered in 107- and 113-inch lengths.
With the launch of the new HX and a strong construction market projected, “we do expect to gain sales in the construction segment,” said Vasbinder. “We have a lot in the government and utility segments, and construction is where we want to gain share.”
David Hillman, general manager, vocational product line, explained, “We build the HX for a lot of different applications, but construction is a key focus for us.” Asked about the potential for an overdue infrastructure bill, he said, “in terms of looking ahead, whether or not we get a federal stimulus package that would include infrastructure, an infrastructure bill would do a lot to catalyze demand beyond our current projections,” which already are strong even without such a bill.