The Truck Writers of North America picked Meritor’s FueLite 6x2 tandem-axle assembly with an electronically controlled air suspension from the Meritor Wabco joint venture for its latest Technical Achievement Award.

The award announcement was made Wednesday during the Technology & Maintenance Council’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. The Meritor/Meritor Wabco product beat out five other finalists in the TWNA voting earlier this year.

“The selection committee was impressed with the Meritor FueLite’s ability to shave significant weight from a Class 8 tractor,” said James Menzies, chairman of the TWNA selection committee and executive editor of Truck News and Truck West in Canada.

“When coupled with the Meritor Wabco ECAS, the 6x2 spec becomes viable for many North American truck buyers who could benefit from the weight savings of a 6x2, yet don't have to worry about potential loss of traction," he said.

The system can save nearly 400 pounds because it does away with heavy gear sets in the tandem’s second axle and the interaxle differential, and eliminates the interaxle driveshaft, Meritor executives said. Lower parasitic drag adds up to 2% in fuel efficiency.

The 6x2 concept, with one driving axle and one non-powered or “dead” axle, isn’t new, Menzies said. But the ECAS electronics, which automatically shift weight to the powered axle to enhance its traction under slippery conditions, is a new approach.

The 6x2 setup is widely used in Europe, even on heavy trucks that go off paved roads, noted committee member Tom Berg, senior editor of Heavy Duty Trucking and Systems like Meritor’s could overcome traditional opposition to the 6x2 by North American truck operators, who usually buy 6x4 tractors with two driving axles.

Charlie Allen, Meritor’s general manager, North American technical service, and Jon Morrison, president and general manager of Meritor Wabco, received the award from Menzies at the luncheon.

TWNA’s annual award goes to innovative products that are widely available and aid efficiency for truck operators, the group says. Other finalists for this year’s award were:

  • Aerofficient Slider trailer fairing;
  • Alutrec monocoque design for a lightweight flatbed trailer;
  • Dana Spicer Diamond Series aluminum driveshaft
  • Jacobs Vehicle Systems Bridge high-power-density engine brake; and
  • Thermo King Precedent low-emissions reefer units.

In addition to Menzies and Berg, the award committee members are Jim Park, also of Heavy Duty Trucking and; Paul Abelson, of Road King and Land Line magazines; John Baxter, a freelance journalist; Peter Carter, of Today’s Trucking; and Paul Hartley, of AddMedia.

The FueLite tandem axle also was honored as one of HDT's Top 20 Products.

Related Stories:

Meritor Expects 6x2 Acceptance to Grow, Readies Faster Axle Ratios

Meritor Introduces FueLite 6X2 Tandem Axle