Half a century looks pretty good on Western Star. The truck OEM, which company president Kelley Platt likes to tout as "the last of the custom truck builders," has hit the half-century mark and celebrated with a press event in Phoenix, Arizona, to unveil a host of equipment upgrades and present the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association a new Model 5700XE tractor to use in its efforts to promote both owner-operators and the trucking industry at large.
A host of new trucks were on hand for test drives as well, sporting eye-catching new paint jobs that recreate the colors and patterns Western Star used for its show trucks back in the 1970s.
At a press briefing, Platt reviewed Western Star's performance so far this year, as well as the state of the trucking industry overall, noting that the brand's parent company, Daimler Trucks North America, is seeing signs of market recovery nationwide that could lead to an uptick in freight volumes. Platt said she still expects Class 8 volume to be at or near 198,000 units this year, adding that Western Star built 7,323 trucks last year, putting the company at 3.8% market share. Platt said that given Daimler's market share numbers for the past few years, the vocational market is a natural space for Daimler to grow in — an effort that favors Western Star's tough, vocational models. Based on those goals, Platt said she expects to see Western Star's market share grow to 8% by 2025.
In other news, Western Star announced a host of new features and options for its model lineup, including:
- Detroit 23,000-pound front steer axle for 4800 and 4900 truck models, designed for applications that require a higher front axle weight rating like snow plow, dump and heavy haul.
- 5-Man Crew Cab option: The 4700, 4800, 4900, and 6900 truck models can now be spec’d with an aftermarket-installed 5-man crew cab option with either two or four doors.
- A new Western Star 5700 truck configuration for expeditor and RV applications in available in a day cab or sleeper.
Another new features is RollTek Seats, which inflate side-impact airbags, tighten seat belts and compress air suspension seats to the lowest position to prevent serious injuries to the driver, in the unlikely event of a rollover. In addition, sealed frame rails for Western Star 4700, 4800, and 4900 truck models reduce corrosion on double channel and partial liner configurations.
The company also unveiled a new, smaller, 25-ton, off-highway truck for construction, mining and quarry site hauling. The new XD-25 is available with a Tier 3 Series 60 or Detroit DD13 engine, and is powered by the Allison Off Road Series (ORS) transmission and planetary gear sets. Together, the engine and transmission combination results in more power for loaded applications and higher speeds when unloaded.
“The XD-25 provides yet another extreme duty option for customers who tackle the toughest challenges,” said Platt. “These units are specifically designed to handle off-road jobs without compromising fuel economy and cycle time efficiency.”
Western Star also used its birthday event to present OOIDA with another new, Model 5700XE to showcase on its national Spirit of the American tour. Platt presented the keys to driver and OOIDA spokesman Jon Osborn, who will use the truck to visit shows, conferences and truck stops around the country to promote both OOIDA and the trucking industry. Osborn said the new truck, which replaces his blue Western Star model dubbed "Cookie Monster," will be named "Snowflake."