CHATHAM, Ont. – International is introducing a new Class 8 tractor that will succeed its current 9200 and 9400 products.
The truck has recently begun field testing in the U.S. and Canada, but it won’t be officially introduced to the public until the Mid-America Trucking Show in March. International dealers recently got their first glimpse of the new truck, and Rocky Zinser, dealer principal, Diamond International Trucks, said it was an immediate hit.
He said a number of dealers were actively involved in the design of the new highway tractor, including one from Canada.
“This is the first time International got the dealers involved and engaged in the development of a Class 8 tractor and it’s been really exciting,” said Zinser, who was on the dealer advisory board. “I had the opportunity to take a ride in that new tractor and it’s just ‘Wow!’ We set benchmarks and challenges to International to help us develop a product that’s best-in-class in the market and to International’s credit, it met those challenges and it definitely shows in the truck.”
International officials aren’t yet divulging many specific details about what customers can expect to see, but they say the 2007 tractor was designed with driver comfort, uptime, fuel economy and out-of-motion costs in mind.
“Our customers and dealers see real value in our new tractor – from its advanced design for maximizing drivers’ comfortability to its efficiencies in fuel, uptime and serviceability,” said Tom Baughman, vice-president and general manager of the company’s Heavy Truck Vehicle Center. “We’re excited about their enthusiastic response.”
What we do know is that it will initially be available with Cat and Cummins engines (horsepower ratings have not been disclosed). International also plans to eventually offer its own big-bore engines in the new tractor. It’s a conventional design and will be available as a daycab or with 51- or 71-inch sleepers with various roof heights. The new (yet to be named) tractor will be aimed at small- to medium-sized fleets. And the cab will be constructed of steel, but the company claims the truck will be lighter than its existing aluminum cab products.
Finally, International has confirmed the Eagle package will be available with the new tractor, which should appeal to owner/operators.
International says it conducted extensive research to better understand its customers’ size and comfort needs. Hundreds of 36-point body measurement profiles went into the design of the new cab, the company says. It also says sophisticated computer simulations were used to reduce the possibility of driver discomfort while driving, as well as when entering or exiting the cab.
About 1,500 drivers were interviewed during the process and International designers slept in the cabs to see for themselves where there was room for improvement.
In addition, International claims: a new frame and suspension construction improves ride and handling; an improved interior gives a roomier feel with more natural light; the interior is quieter than current models; ventilation and HVAC performance has been enhanced; and additional storage systems have been provided.
“My drivers say they find the cab to be considerably quieter and they really like its ride and handling, which lowers their overall discomfort at the end of the day,” said one Midwest test-vehicle customer who hauls a variety of tanker products.
The new tractor is being designed to last for at least 1.2 million miles of linehaul operation. The company says its use of high-quality materials and parts common with other International products should increase uptime. It also says it has synchronized service intervals to further reduce downtime.
The new model will also use the International DiamondLogic electrical system to increase reliability and minimize diagnostics time.
One of the key advantages of the new model will be its fuel mileage, company officials insist. The new tractor has been aerodynamically designed and plenty of attention has been given to optimizing the powertrain for maximum fuel efficiency.
The company says wind tunnel testing has been encouraging as have early field tests. There are currently about eight of the new trucks being tested in the U.S. and Canada, running “various environmental and duty cycles.”
Dealers will begin receiving their first shipments of the new tractor in the first quarter of ’07. The truck will be built at International’s assembly plant in Chatham, Ont.