SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – A flat floor, more headroom, additional storage, and a more spacious living area are a few of the benefits drivers will enjoy with the new Peterbilt 579 UltraLoft sleeper.
Fleet owners will like it too, since the integral design improves aerodynamics by 2%, resulting in a 1% improvement to fuel economy compared to the traditional discrete sleeper design. The company unveiled its 80-inch UltraLoft sleeper to trade press at an event here Feb. 15, and noted that drivers had a hand in the design.
“We visited truck stops, rest stops, we hosted groups from our customer councils, Women in Trucking, and we listened to what they had to say,” explained Kyle Quinn, Peterbilt general manager and Paccar senior vice-president. “We watched as they interacted with our products, and we worked with them on what did work and what didn’t work and what we could do better to make their lives easier. We went to work and gave our engineering teams the tall task of delivering on as many of these wishes as possible.”
The result is a sleeper cab that’s far more driver-friendly than the traditional cab. It boasts 70 cubic feet of storage space, wider beds – including a folding upper bunk that can double as a storage area when not in use, providing more headroom – and a new foldaway ladder for easier access to the top bunk. Thanks to its integrated design, the ridge along the floor between the cockpit and the sleeper has been removed in favor of a flat floor. More headroom is available throughout the cab.
Additional power outlets have also been built into the design, including some that are accessible from the upper bunk.
“We talked to over 400 drivers and operators to understand what their needs are, and some themes that came up over and over again were storage space, they need extra power outlets for the many devices they bring with them, and they need a large, comfortable bunk so they’re well rested for their next day of work,” explained Scott Newhouse, chief engineer.
Peterbilt took that feedback to the lab and designed a prototype sleeper it then presented to drivers.
“We had drivers and operators come back in, and they didn’t just look at it, they interacted with it,” Newhouse said. “By doing that, we got to see how they would interact with our designs. They ultimately became the designers of the UltraLoft sleeper. That’s really what drove the success of our end product.”
More headroom can be found throughout the cab – up front and in the sleeper. Even in the bunk. There is 48 inches between the lower and upper bunks, so a driver can sit on the lower bed comfortably. The lower bunk features an 85-inch mattress while the top bunk is 82 inches long. A seven-foot tall man can comfortably fit into the lower bunk. Newhouse said the UltraLoft features the widest bunks in the industry, at 42 inches in the bottom and 36 inches above.
The top bunk can fold in half, to provide more headroom and additional storage. This provides an additional 14 cubic feet of storage when folded. Newhouse said the single bunk UltraLoft boasts 70 cubic feet of storage, while a double bunk version offers 64 cubic feet.
Twelve-volt, 110-volt, and USB power outlets are abundant and well placed for easy access. The upper bunk has the same power port configuration as the lower bunk, eliminating the need to have cords and wires running all over the sleeper.
The interior lighting within the bunk area was improved, and a large wardrobe with 42 inches of hanging space was provided. Storage areas are available on the driver and passenger side of the cab, which are large enough to house two CPAP machines, if needed, Newhouse pointed out.
Peterbilt chief engineer Scott Newhouse goes over the benefits of the UltraLoft sleeper.
Drivers will also appreciate the additional space for a larger TV, which can now be up to 32 inches. A slide-out table serves as a workspace or dining area. The cabinets can accommodate a larger 1.1 cu.-ft. microwave.
“The Model 579 has been a huge success for our on-highway customers, and today Peterbilt is taking it to the next level,” said Quinn. “The UltraLoft was designed and tested in close collaboration with customers and drivers. The UltraLoft delivers a premium environment while maintaining the distinctive Peterbilt style. I am confident drivers will fully embrace this new home away from home.”
The new design will no doubt be a hit with drivers, but Peterbilt will also continue to offer its traditional discrete sleeper design, which some customers prefer because the sleeper can be easily removed, giving the truck greater versatility in the secondary market. The 579 UltraLoft is available for order now, with production set to begin in July.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies