Rolf Lockwood

March 15 Vol. 2, No. 7

No doubt about the big deal this time out – an all new truck. When Sterling launched its new medium-duty cabover a couple of weeks ago in Atlanta, it must have made a lot of its dealers happy. The company filled out its product lineup with the ‘360’, a class 3, 4, or 5 machine that joins the A-Line, L-Line, Acterra, and
Cargo trucks. It’s now a very complete range, and there can’t be many vocational
customers who won’t be able to find their needs met at a Sterling dealership, whether it’s the local grocer or the municipality.

The 360, first shown at the recent National Truck Equipment Association’s Work
Truck Show in Atlanta, is based on a recently introduced Mitsubishi Fuso platform, and will also be sold under the Japanese manufacturer’s name in North America as the FE. The only differences will be in trim levels.

It’s the first commercial vehicle resulting from DaimlerChrysler’s new optimization program — called “Global Excellence” — that aims to take advantage of the company’s massive breadth to keep truck and component development costs
down. Sterling, of course, is part of DaimlerChrysler’s Freightliner LLC unit, while
Japan’s Mitsubishi Fuso is 85% owned by the German firm.

Sterling says its 360 offers leading fuel economy as well as easy entry and egress, a big cab, outstanding maneuverability and visibility, and a design that will please body builders. The truck is available with all the necessary configurations for popular body options like dry van, reefer, and stake applications.

Standard features look good, starting with a 4.9-liter turbocharged diesel, sporting
175 hp and 391 lb ft of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. You
also get a few very useful features like the electronic brake-pad wear sensor, the
in-cab oil check button, and the height-adjustable armrests on the driver’s seat. The latter two are small things but the sort of detail that can endear a truck to its owner and/or driver.

It seems to me that one of the 360’s most endearing features in the eyes of body
builders will be its range of body mount positions, with cab-to-body clearance of
as little as 4.5 in. Its straight frame rails also make for easier body mounting and wheelbase changes.

Class 4 and 5 models will be rolled out this Spring and class 3 trucks in mid-2007.

Sticking with medium-duty trucks for the moment, the NTEA show also saw Freightliner introduce a new version of its popular body builder information tool, the Business Class M2 Resource CD. It’s designed to help body builders, dealers and customers construct the right truck for their needs, offering digital spec’ing abilities for the complete Business Class M2 product line. Users can construct key vehicle dimensions, right down to the exhaust system.

Version 3.0 includes improved graphics and an expanded viewing area, among other things, plus the ability to save configurations and recall them later.

Salespeople apparently call it a terrific learning tool and the more savvy customer
should save both sweat and time in the spec’ing process.

And finally, there’s a nifty little gizmo from Phillips Industries that
should save van fleets a few bucks — the ‘Permalogic’ controller that eliminates
any chance of accidentally leaving dome lamps on by cutting off power to them
when the brake pedal is depressed. Power is also interrupted when there’s an
under/over battery voltage situation or at a pre-determined elapsed time. Fitted on the outside of the trailer’s front wall, the standard nosebox controller is fully weatherproof.

In two weeks time I’ll be able to tell you about the all new and long awaited class 8 truck from International, set to be formally introduced at the Mid-America Trucking
Show in Louisville. I’m honor-bound to say nothing about it beforehand, but I can offer a small tease and tell you that we’re the first to have taken it for a road test. And not just three trips around the block either.

What’s more, the test machine was powered by a 2007 version of the Cummins ISX engine – and the early report on that is all positive. The new electronic control of the variable-geometry turbocharger brings terrific response at the throttle pedal. And now my editorial lips are sealed.

This newsletter is published every two weeks. It’s a heads-up notice about
what you can see at where you’ll find in-detail coverage of nearly everything that’s new. Plus interesting products that may not have had the ‘air play’ they deserved within the last few months. There’s more here than we could possibly fit into the magazine. Subscribe today!

If you have comments of whatever sort, please contact me at

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to

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