It seems likely that 2018 will be looked back on as the year North American Class 8 trucks made serious moves toward a more efficient and safer future. The past 12 months have seen a flurry of activity on the Class 8 front as OEMs launched significantly upgraded or all-new trucks.
These new and enhanced trucks will be the building blocks and enablers for much of the new technology coming to trucking over the next decade. Yet despite much talk about futuristic trends such as autonomous driving, platooning, drones and electric trucks, the bulk of the introductions are clearly focused on the human factor — making drivers safer, more comfortable, and more productive. New interiors being introduced across truck brand lines were developed with heavy driver input. And aerodynamic and powertrain improvements are driving further increases in fuel efficiency.
At the same time, OEMs are significantly expanding the concept of a “connected” truck that is constantly gathering data and sharing it with fleets, capable of over-the-air (OTA) powertrain upgrades and leveraging telematics to slash downtime.
“The next five years are going to be insane given the amount of technology that is coming into trucking. It’s going to be fast and furious,” said Bill Kozek, who is tasked with identifying future transportation trends for Navistar, at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta in September.
Kozek’s comments echoed others at the show, such as those by Richard Howard, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Freightliner. He said his company’s current theme was to be “100% connected” in terms of vehicle capability. Daimler Trucks North America President Roger Nielsen noted that the company is performing real-world platooning tests now in both Oregon and Nevada. David Pardue, vice president of Mack Trucks connected vehicle technologies, said the company will have OTA powertrain updates available for its 2018 model year trucks by the end of this year.
At a recent roundtable discussion, Lars Stenqvist, chief technology officer of Volvo Group, said data connectivity, electric power, and autonomous driving are the three technologies that have the greatest potential to change trucking in the near future.
Yet none of this will come to pass without a modern vehicle platform to work from. Which brings us back to 2018 model Class 8 trucks: A new crop of vehicles with capabilities that are stunning in their own right – but that will also serve as a launching pad for a wide array of new technologies.
Freightliner adds sleeper configurations to new Cascadia
Freightliner was early out of the new-technology gate when it launched its “new” Cascadia tractor in late 2016. Since then, Daimler’s flagship North American brand has largely focused on fleshing out options for the truck, including mid-roof cab configurations for regional overnight haulers and segments such as bulk haul and flatbeds, announced at the NACV Show.
The configurations include 48-, 60- and 72-inch mid-roof XT sleeper cabs in both 116- and 126-inch BBC platforms. All three configurations offer two levels of aerodynamic packages, the Aero or AeroX, Freightliner’s most fuel-efficient specification. The new configurations are available to order now, for delivery in January 2018, in addition to the Driver Loft option, available in the 72-inch mid-roof XT configuration featuring a two-seat dinette/work table and opposing seating. These seats can be folded flat to allow a full Murphy-style bed to swing down in less than 15 seconds.
The new sleeper options build on the new Cascadia’s other high-profile enhancements, which include all LED-lit interior and exterior lights, as well as the eVault, a dedicated and protected centralized housing for all of the truck’s high-tech electronic control modules.
On the telematics front, the new Cascadia comes with Detroit Connect and Detroit Assurance 4.0 to offer enhanced fleet management, increased uptime and improved safety.
Freightliner’s complete 2018 Class 8 lineup includes the Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution models, as well as the SD vocational truck (now available with an auto hauler package). All Freightliner Class 8 models can be spec’d with Detroit DD13, DD15 or Cummins engine options.
International makes splash with new HV Series
International didn’t wait for the NACV Show before it started making Class 8 news with a refresh of its distinctive LoneStar highway tractor (see Quick Spin on page 40). And at NACV it unveiled the new HV Series severe-duty truck, “designed to deliver a smarter approach to serious work,” said Denny Mooney, senior vice president of global product development, noting the new model is the first severe-service truck available with the International’s new A26 12.4L big-bore engine.
While the new HV doesn’t differ much visually from its predecessor, Mooney emphasized that it was “redesigned from the inside out.” The hood and grille remain the same, but the HV Series interior was crafted with driver and body company feedback. New doors offer better visibility. Under the hood, “the truck has been redesigned with uptime in mind,” he said, “starting with the powertrain.”
The A26 is built from the MAN D26 engine crankcase, which produces up to 475 hp and 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque from a design that International says is 600-700 lbs. lighter than a traditional 15L big-bore engine. The HV Series is also available with the Cummins B6.7 and Cummins L9 engines.
The HV also was designed for easy body mounting and features the Diamond Logic electrical system for the automation of tasks and interlocks to help protect equipment and crew.
International’s new regional haul RH Series debuted in April and will be offered in multiple configurations, including day cab, 56-inch low roof sleeper, 56-inch high-rise sleeper, day cab with roof fairing, and 56-inch high-rise sleeper with roof fairing. The truck features a host of new features designed to improve driver comfort in the cab while also yielding up to a 6% improvement in fuel efficiency. Engineers also focused on reducing the RH’s overall weight. The RH Series also features the Bendix Wingman Advanced Collision Mitigation system as standard, an industry first in the regional market, according to International.
International’s 2018 Class 8 stable includes the retro-styled LoneStar, the LT Series highway tractor, the new RH Series, the new HV Series vocational truck, and the HX severe-duty vocational model. Engine offerings include the Navistar’s new A26 diesel, the Navistar N13 or the Cummins X15.
All the new trucks feature new driver-focused interiors developed with extensive driver input.
Kenworth adds proprietary transmission
Kenworth now has a fully integrated, automated transmission for its Class 8 models with the Paccar Automated Transmission. With the recent addition of the Paccar axle, Kenworth now offers a fully integrated Class 8 powertrain. “We have spent a lot of time over the past few years working on proprietary calibrations for the transmission and the MX engines,” said Kenworth Marketing Director Kurt Swihart. “The result is a deeply integrated powertrain that will deliver everything customers would expect from such a design.”
The new transmissions, developed in conjunction with Eaton, will hit the street with many features that Eaton customers are familiar with, such as Urge to Move, Creep Mode and Blended Pedal. But company officials emphasize the new transmission was designed from the ground up as automated. Drivability enhancements include optimized gear selection, which selects appropriate starting gears and makes optimized shift decisions based on vehicle weight engine torque, grade and throttle position. More fuel-saving features are offered as options.
Kenworth’s line-haul Class 8 models for 2018 include the T680 and the T680 Advantage fuel economy package, as well as its classic W900 conventional tractor. Vocational models include the T680-derived T880 and the T800 model. Kenworth models can now be spec’d with a Paccar powertrain, powered by MX-11, MX-13 and PX-9 diesel engines, and it offers Cummins engine options including the ISLG, ISX12 and X15. The Allison TC10 automatic transmission is now also available as optional equipment, while the also-new Eaton-Cummins Endurant automated transmission is available as an option with Cummins engines.
Mack returns to roots with Anthem highway tractor
Mack’s launch of its new Anthem highway tractor is a two-fisted return to form for the truck company, with aggressive styling evocative of classic Macks from years past plus improved fuel economy. (See Test Drive on page 44.)
The Anthem features an all-new exterior design with optimized aerodynamics for improved fuel efficiency. New driving and sleeping environments were crafted with an emphasis on increasing driver comfort and productivity. It’s available in several configurations, including a daycab, an all-new 48-inch flat top sleeper, and an all-new 70-inch stand-up sleeper.
“As one of the most significant new trucks in Mack’s 117-year history, the Anthem combines our latest innovations with more than a century of truck-building know-how,” said Dennis Slagle, president, Mack Trucks.
Anthem is available with the 13L Mack MP8 engine with ratings as high as 505 hp and 1,860 lb.-ft. of torque. The 11L Mack MP7 is available as an option on the Anthem with ratings up 425 hp and 1,560 lb.-ft. of torque.
Mack’s SuperEconodyne downspeeding packages are available with both Mack MP7 and MP8 engines. Available exclusively with SuperEconodyne is the Mack MP8-TC engine featuring turbo compounding, which captures and converts waste energy from the exhaust into mechanical energy that is fed back to the engine. This feeds up to 50 additional horsepower back to the crankshaft, for additional performance while improving fuel efficiency. Combined with the Anthem’s aerodynamic improvements, the Mack MP8-TC engines provide up to an 11.8% improvement in fuel efficiency compared with a baseline from previous Mack models equipped with GHG2014 engines.
Mack also updated its Granite and Pinnacle models for 2018 with new interiors aimed at attracting and retaining drivers. A new gauge cluster and dash layout is designed to improve visibility and readability and puts frequently used controls at the driver’s fingertips. Switches are repositioned higher on the dash, while the Mack mDrive automated manual transmission shift pad is now within easier reach as well. The dash panel has room for up to 18 switches, which feature laser etched labeling that won’t rub off.
Along with interior changes, Mack introduced LED headlights and a new grille for its Pinnacle model that echoes the Anthem. The axle-back Pinnacle is being phased out in 2018. The axle-forward Pinnacle, formerly known as the CH, will continue but will be called the Pinnacle.
In addition to the Anthem and Pinnacle models, Mack continues to offer its Class 8 Granite and LR and TerraPro cabover vocational model. All trucks can be spec’d with an all-Mack Econodyne drivetrain, powered by MP7, MP8 and MP8TC diesel engines.
Peterbilt adds Paccar automated transmission
Upgrades to Peterbilt’s fuel economy-focused Model 579 Epiq package deliver an 8% fuel economy improvement for the 2018 model year, says the company. Among the enhancements are a new predictive cruise control option on Paccar MX engine-equipped models, for fuel economy improvements of up to 3%, and a new Paccar 40,000-pound tandem drive axle, now standard with the Model 579 for line-haul applications.
Paccar also unveiled its new Paccar Automated Transmission, giving Peterbilt a complete proprietary and fully integrated powertrain option. Kyle Quinn, general manager at Peterbilt, noted that altogether, the Paccar integrated powertrain offers customers 399 lbs. of total vehicle weight savings and 7% total fuel economy savings. The transmission can be spec’d with the Predictive Cruise Control option for maximum fuel efficiency.
The new transmission was developed with Eaton and designed from the ground up as an automated transmission, as opposed to a converted manual gearbox design. Peterbilt began offering the new transmission as an option on its Models 579 and 567 last month. It will be paired with the MX-13 engine at first, and will be available with the MX-11 engine in early 2018.
Another new option for 2018 Peterbilt Class 8 trucks is the Endurant AMT for Model 579 and 567 trucks from Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies. The purpose-built Endurant was engineered for integration with the Cummins X15 engine to provide improved fuel efficiency, performance, and low-speed maneuverability. It offers engine ratings up to 510 hp and 1,850 lb-ft of torque, and weight savings up to 105 pounds over competitive automated transmissions, according to Eaton.
Peterbilt will offer its aerodynamic Model 579 and conventional Model 379 for linehaul applications in 2018. Vocational truck offerings will include the Model 567, Model 367, and Model 365. Full Paccar powertrains are now available, featuring MX-11 and MX-13 diesel engines. Cummins ISX12 and ISX15 are also options.
Volvo unveils all-new on-highway and regional tractors
Hard on the heels of summer’s launch of the all-new VNR vocational/regional Class 8 tractor, the company revealed its new Volvo VNL series highway tractor, available in several configurations, including an all-new, 70-inch sleeper.
The new truck builds on Volvo’s established styling cues combined with new features, such as swept-back headlights that include signature Volvo daytime running lights, and a bold new Volvo grille and hood. Airflow up and around the cab has also been optimized with new chassis and roof fairings.
Driver productivity and comfort were also key design priorities, resulting in an all-new dashboard that puts often-used controls easily within the driver’s reach.
There are four sleeper cab configurations, including an all-new, full 70-inch sleeper available in the Volvo VNL 760 and 740 models. All VNL sleepers feature curved cabinets that open toward the back to maximize space, as well as an integrated, reclining bunk, which Volvo says is a first in North America. For the first time in North America, Volvo’s high-end Globetrotter trim levels will be available on the VNL 760 and VNL 860 sleeper models.
The new VNL comes standard with the 13L Volvo D13 engine. Daycab and VNL 400 models can be spec’ed with the 11L Volvo D11 as an option. The 15L Cummins X15 is also available in the VNL series.
Volvo’s VNR is available in three base configurations; the day-cab VNR 300, a flat-roof sleeper model called the VNR 420 that comes with a 42-inch sleeper compartment for overnight trips, and the VNR 640, which features a 61-inch mid-roof sleeper intended for week-long excursions. It has enough room for a 42-inch mattress, a vertical closet, a fridge and microwave as well as a flat-screen TV.
Powertrain options for the VNR include the Volvo D11 with 325-425 hp and 1,250-1,550 lb-ft, or the beefier Volvo D13 offering 375-500 hp and 1,450-1,850 lb-ft. The D11 is nearly 350 pounds lighter than the D11, for weight-sensitive applications. The engine can be mated to any of the currently available Volvo I-Shift configurations as well as popular Eaton-Fuller manual boxes or Allison’s 5- or 6-speed automatics.
Volvo will also offer two vocational choices in 2018. Its VHD model can be spec’d as a straight truck or a tractor. The severe duty VNX model remains in the Volvo stable as well, although the company has discontinued its D16 engine. The VNX will be offered with a high-horsepower Volvo D13 engine; additional engine options may become available in the future.
Western Star turns 50 with Class 8 upgrades
Western Star celebrated its 50th anniversary this year by announcing a host of new options and upgrades for its Class 8 model lineup, including a new Western Star 5700 truck configuration for expeditor and RV applications available in a day cab or sleeper. The truck can be spec’d with a throwback paint scheme recalling the company’s 1970s truck show colors, as well as 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 event of a rollover.
The 5700XE, the brand’s fuel-efficient highway tractor, can be spec’d with the fuel-efficient Detroit DD15 engine, which features the lighter and less complex asymmetric turbocharger, a variable speed water pump that reduces parasitic loads when full output is not required. The GHG14 version of the DD15 also has the next-generation Amplified Common Rail Fuel System that delivers up to 36,000 psi injection pressure for finer atomization of the fuel and a more complete burn.
The 5700XE is also available with the DD13 and DD16 engines. It comes standard with the Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission that can be mated to any of the Detroit engines offered. For maximum fuel efficiency, DTNA offers the integrated Detroit Powertrain featuring the new downsped DD15 engine rated at 400 hp and 1750 lb.-ft. torque, DT12 transmission with Intelligent Powertrain Management, and Detroit axles with specific configurations and gearing.
Western Star’s 2018 on-highway lineup features the aerodynamic 5700 model, which is also offered in an XE (“Extreme Efficiency”) package, plus the more conventionally styled 4900, offered in set-back axle, set-forward axle, extended hood, twin-steer and extreme duty configurations. Also offered is the 4800 straight truck model in set-back and set-forward axle configurations as well as a twin-steer variation.
The 6900 is Western Star’s severe duty truck. It can be configured as an on-highway, Class 8 model or as a an off-highway hauler. Western Star’s Model 4700 is a Class 7 truck that can be spec’d as a “Baby 8” for weight sensitive applications.