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June 6, 2012 Vol. 8, No. 12

Well, I spoke too soon in last week’s Product Watch newsletter. No sooner had I written that things were quiet on the product front than I realized that Freightliner had launched its 2014 Cascadia Evolution tractor. That’ll teach me not to post too far in advance of the deadline.

It’s actually a pretty significant introduction, not least because Freightliner is claiming a 7% fuel-economy improvement over an EPA 2010-compliant Cascadia equipped with first-generation aerodynamics. It even gains as much as 5% compared to a current-model 2013 Cascadia equipped with the latest aero upgrades.

The Evolution is powered only by the re-designed Detroit DD15 engine and sports a lot of new aerodynamic trickery (see more details here). That motor is a whopping 100 lb lighter than its predecessor and uses a proprietary asymmetric turbocharger with a next-generation ‘amplified common rail’ fuel system.

Freightliner reports that a recent fuel-economy test run with a fully tricked-out Evolution produced an impressive 10.67 mpg. Those are little U.S. gallons, of course, so make that 12.8 miles per manly Imperial gallon if my shaky math is correct. Not bad. I have no idea what that might be in liters per 100 kilometers, by the way. My calculator’s tired, me even more so.

The truck was equipped with all the right options, of course, including the Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission with wide-base tires, a 6×2 drivetrain, and Daimler-designed aerodynamic trailer enhancements which were included to represent the current state of trailer aerodynamics available in the aftermarket.

The Evolution was tested at the Continental Proving Grounds in Uvalde, TX, Freightliner reports. There, the truck traveled the 8.5-mile closed-course track for 1000 non-stop miles at an average speed of 60 mph with a GCW of 76,000 lb. Fuel consumption and distance traveled were measured at the end of the demonstration by an independent, third-party auditor using high-accuracy fuel-flow meters.

Freightliner is quick to point out that this was a closed-track demonstration without interferences like traffic, construction and speed variations. It showed pure fuel economy potential.

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

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