Mid America Trucking Show Report (March 01, 2004)

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Sterling boosting dealer network and truck production

Sterling enjoyed considerable market growth last year and is hoping changes to its A-Line and Acterra trucks as well as an impressive expansion of its dealer network will help continue to expand its popularity with truck buyers.

The six-year-old truck maker increased sales in Class 6/7 by 32% and Class 8 by 11% in 2003. In the U.S. its market share of the Class 6/7 market increased from 3.2% in 2002 to 4.1% in 2003 and its market share of the Class 8 market rose from 6% to 6.7%. In Canada the gains were from 6% to 6.7% in the Class 6/7 market while its Class 8 market share rose from 6.3% to 7.4%.

Sterling’s St. Thomas, Ont. manufacturing plant will soon be pumping out more than 100 trucks a day, said John Merrifield, senior vice president of sales and marketing, to meet what he expects to be a very strong demand for new trucks from 2004 to 2006.

“Ultimately we want 10% market share in Canada and the U.S.,” said Merrifield.

To get there the truck maker has made significant additions to its dealer network. Sterling added 116 new locations to its dealer network in the U.S. and Canada since 2001 and showed a 17% increase in locations in 2003 alone.

Sterling is also hoping the latest enhancements to its truck line up will entice truck buyers. The enhancements to the medium-duty Acterra line of trucks include two new two-pedal automated shift transmissions and factory-installed all-wheel drive.

The two-pedal Mercedes-Benz Automated Gear Shift (AGS) transmission is based on the Mercedes-Benz manual six-speed. The trannie requires no manual shifting or clutching.

Also available on the Acterra is Eaton Fuller’s UltraShift six-speed transmission, which Sterling claims combines the durability of a manual transmission with automated shifting. Synthetic lube, which is standard with the Eaton UltraShift, provides extended oil change intervals.

The factory-installed, four-wheel automatic traction control uses an exclusive Automatic Lock Control Transfer Case coupled with the standard front and rear wheel traction control systems. Acterras equipped with all-wheel drive are available with front axle ratings of 12,000, 14,000 and 16,000 lbs.

Meanwhile changes to the A-Line work trucks include new aerodynamic mirrors, a Bostrom seat and a Visteon scroll compressor.

The mirrors have smaller heads for improved side and forward visibility and aluminum extrusion brackets to reduce weight. The Bostrom “Freedom” seat comes standard with a longer headrest, wider suspension, increased lumbar support, and newly designed foam density and contours. The scroll-type processor, used for many years in luxury and high-end automotive applications, has been upgraded for heavy duty trucking use. The ruggedized compressor uses fewer moving parts and has virtually no wear points compared to typical piston type compressors.

Cummins aims to reduce fuel and lube costs

Looking to push the envelope on fuel and maintenance savings, Cummins is going to market with integrated idle-reduction technology and extended oil drain intervals. It has also introduced a new rating for its 11-liter ISM engine.

The Cummins ComfortGuard system is designed to provide fleet owners and drivers with fuel savings and reduced emissions while heating or cooling the truck cab. The device is integrated with the vehicle’s heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) system, so that the vehicle’s main engine does not have to be running to provide heating and cooling for the cab. The ComfortGuard idle-reduction capability is provided by a two-cylinder diesel engine and an Onan genset that’s been a mainstay of the RV and Marine markets for years.

“In addition to reducing idle time, the Cummins ComfortGuard system will provide the end user with up to an 8.5% fuel economy improvement, based on 2,000 hours of operation in a 12-month period,” said Cummins executive director – marketing, Tom Kieffer.

The ComfortGuard system also provides enhanced functionality from a power standpoint, so that end users will be able to operate computers, microwaves and other electronic devices with its 12-volt DC and 120-volt AC auxiliary power.

ComfortGuard will be available in early 2005.

The new ISM rating is 410-horsepower with 1550 lb-ft peak torque. Cummins says that with this rating, the ISM offers the highest horsepower and torque available for engines in its class. The ISM engine is now offered with ratings that range from 280 horsepower with 1150 lb-ft torque up to the 410-horsepower rating with 1550 lb-ft torque.

Cummins also announced extended oil drain intervals for ISM and ISX owners who use Valvoline Premium Blue engine oil.

Premium Blue’s Dispersive Polymer Technology (DPT), which provides soot-fighting capabilities and cold start protection, has allowed oil drain intervals to increase from 15,000 to 20,000 miles (24,141 km to 32,187 km) for severe service, from 25,000 to 35,000 miles (40,234 km to 56,328 km) for normal service and from 35,000 to 45,000 miles (56,325 km to 72,421 km) for light-duty service.

New suspension and diagnostic software for ArvinMeritor

ArvinMeritor’s Commercial Vehicle Systems is planning a series of changes to its RideStar RHP trailer air suspension system. The RHP will evolve into the RXP, a trailer air suspension designed to combine current RHP features with increased durability and lighter weight to address the needs of weight-sensitive customers, such as refrigerated trailer users.

The RHP will evolve into the RXP in phases, with each new component introduced as a running change to the RHP, and being compatible with existing RHP systems. The product will only be designated the RXP with the completion of the final phase, the optimized slider. Most changes are targeted for introduction by the end of 2004, with OEM availability at that time.

“For extra strength and resistance to impact and fatigue, we’ve optimized the suspension’s slider with integrated lateral plates and we’ve protected the pin mechanism with additional cross members,” said Jim Sharkey, business unit director, North American Trailer Systems, for ArvinMeritor. “We’ve also moved the pin handle to the front of the suspension for easy access.”

Meanwhile, Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems’ Roll Stability Control (RSC) for tractors and trucks has been awarded the 2003 Technical Achievement Award from the Truck Writers of North America (TWNA).

The system is designed to provide intervention to help prevent a rollover situation. The RSC system focuses on a vehicle’s center of gravity and the lateral acceleration limit or rollover threshold. When that limit is reached, the system intervenes to slow the vehicle by controlling the engine, retarder and automatically activating the drive axle and trailer brakes. An accelerometer mounted directly to the anti-lock braking system electronic control unit monitors the vehicle’s lateral acceleration. RSC constantly monitors driving conditions and intervenes if critical lateral acceleration is detected.

Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems is also releasing its TOOLBOX Software Version 5.01, which offers enhanced anti-lock braking system diagnostic capabilities.

Freightliner unveils new features for heavy, medium-duty trucks

Freightliner introduced several new features for heavy and medium-duty trucks at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Among them was the new Eaton Fuller UltraShift transmission for heavy-duty trucks. The 10-speed transmission is now available for the Century Class S/T and Columbia product lines.

The Eaton UltraShift transmission is a two-pedal system with no clutch pedal. Automated shifting enables the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel. Shifts are computer controlled, but the transmission also has a manual mode feature that holds the current gear and allows the driver to control shifting, depending on preference or road conditions. A low mode is also included, which can be used for any gear for early downshifting, giving better engine braking capabilities.

Also newly available for the Columbia is an optional instrument panel upgrade. For better visibility, all gauges have 270-degree movement. Each gauge is also individually removable and can be spec’d in chrome or black bezels. A mode switch has been added to select display screens that indicate trip miles, hours, diagnostic fault codes, total engine miles, total engine hours and service intervals.

The panel also allows for connection to the Society of Automotive Engineering Datalink network. Datalink communication between the instrument panel and components such as the anti-lock brake systems, transmission and engines reduces the amount of wires and minimizes system integration issues.

The Cummins ISC engine will be an option for the Business Class M2 106, starting this summer.

The six-cylinder, 8.3 litre Cummins ISC engines have a horsepower range from 240 to 330 hp with a torque range of up to 950 lb.-ft. An exhaust brake is also available on the ISC, to help increase stopping power.

A wing dash will be an option on the Business Class M2 112V starting this summer. The wing dash is especially useful for vocational truck operators who often use controls and switches to operate different types of body equipment. The dash brings the controls closer to the driver.

Ford unveils cab forward model for medium duty

Ford Motor Company has introduced the 2006 Ford LCF (Low Cab Forward) in response to carrier demands for a differentiated alternative in the growing tilt cab segment.

“The low cab forward segment is one of the fastest-growing niches in the commercial truck industry, with sales up almost 50% in the last decade,” said Joe Castelli, Ford Division Commercial Truck director.

The Ford LCF is designed for a wide range of uses, from pickup and delivery to leasing and rental companies, towing and recovery, landscapers and urban service providers. Built in and for North America, the Ford LCF offers a segment-exclusive V-6 diesel engine. The Power Stroke 4.5L V-6 diesel delivers 200 hp at 3,000 rpm and 440 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,850 rpm.

The new trucks go into production early next year as 2006 models, said Castelli. Class 4 and 5 configurations, with GVWRs of 16,000, 17,999 and 19,500 lbs., may be ordered later this year.

Kenworth adds enhancements to its T2000, T300 trucks

Kenworth is heading into the year with a more aerodynamic T2000 as well as new sleeper options.

Kenworth reconfigured the front bumper of the T2000, making it three pieces rather than one while isolating the bumper from the body. A subtle change to the T2000’s sun visor is designed to direct more air over the top of the cab, saving fuel for linehaul drivers.

Other modifications to the T2000 provide drivers with more room to maneuver. The driver’s seat has an extra six degrees of seat recline and an extra 2.5 inches of belly room.

Users of Kenworth’s medium-duty T300 will also enjoy some new enhancements. The 2005 edition of this medium-duty rig is the T300’s 10th anniversary model and as such it was given some extra attention by engineers.

The 2005 model is available with option corner windows for improved visibility while backing up and negotiating tight areas. The exterior also includes a wire mesh grille with a polished stainless steel center trim; standard complex reflector headlamps that provide a 50% increase in illumination; and an optional one-piece stainless steel-clad aluminum bumper with fog lights.

Kenworth also introduced new 86-inch and 72-inch AeroCab Diamond sleepers at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

The Diamond features a fixed 42-inch by 80-inch lower bunk with an optional upper bunk also available. The sleeper can also provide up to 69 cubic feet of storage with room for an optional refrigerator and still shaves up to 150 pounds off existing sleepers.

The AeroCab is designed so the sleeper can be removed and retrofitted with an extended day cab conversion kit for the second or third owner.

Mack introduces 60-inch mid-rise sleeper, new UniMax front axles

Mack has introduced a new 60-inch mid-rise sleeper with more interior space than flat-tops without the added cost and weight associated with large sleepers.

The addition of the new sleeper makes the company’s highway CH and Vision model trucks more flexible, said Tom Davis, Mack marketing manager for highway products.

“The local and regional haul segment of the heavy-duty truck marketplace is very diverse in terms of factors such as the length of hauling runs, the types of materials transported, and regional differences in terrain and climate,” he said. “Factor in external issues, such as the new Hours of Service rules that call for additional rest time and it’s clear that our customers need the flexibility we now provide with the expanded lineup.”

Mack also announced it is expanding its line of UniMax front axles with 12,000 and 14,300-lb versions now available. The company says its UniMax axles weigh less than comparable front axles and include unitized wheel hubs that are permanently sealed with synthetic grease, reducing maintenance requirements.

New Cat engine ratings for on-highway market

Cat introduced several new engine ratings at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

Beginning fourth quarter 2004, five new horsepower ratings will be available for the C13 engine: 470 hp with 1,550 lb-ft of torque; 470 hp with 1,650 lb-ft of torque; an economy rating of 470 hp Multi-torque with 1,550/ 1,750 lb-ft of torque; 470 hp Multi-torque with 1,550/1,750 lb-ft of torque, which yields maximum fuel economy when spec’ed with Cat’s “Gear-Fast-Run-Super-Slow” gearing recommendations and the Eaton RTLOC16909A T-2 transmission; and 500 hp with 1,650 lb-ft of torque available as a field up-rate. These engine ratings, teamed with the lightweight C13, are suited to the truckload, tanker and vocational markets.

Two new hp ratings also will be offered for the C11 engine: 350 hp with 1450 lb-ft of torque and 370 hp with 1,450 lb-ft of torque. These ratings, combined with the rear power takeoff capability and low weight of the C11, make this engine an option for the mixer and dump truck market.

All Cat on-highway engines are certified and fully compliant to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2004 emissions regulations.

A new “Super Fuel Saver” multi-torque rating, combined with jointly developed Eaton transmission model RTLOC-16909A-T2, will optimize the fuel economy benefit of Cat engines with ACERT, said Cat officials. The new rating and transmission combination is an available option on the C13 and C15.

When combined with the 10-speed Eaton transmission, the Cat Super Fuel Saver rating maximizes fuel economy by taking advantage of the torque curve provided by ACERT technology, explained John Campbell, director of on-highway engine products, Caterpillar On-Highway Engine Department. When specifying a drivetrain for a truck equipped with a Cat engine with ACERT, set the cruise at 65 mph while only turning 1,325 rpm. The vehicle can be operated at higher speeds, but optimum fuel efficiency will occur at 65 mph.

Caterpillar is also introducing a heavy-duty compression as an option on the C15 during fall of this year. The system provides 25% more braking power in the recommended operating range when compared to previous systems, claimed John Campbell, director of Caterpillar on-highway engine products.

Caterpillar also made news with the release of its “King of the Hill” 625 horsepower C15, to be available as of fall 2004. Caterpillar will also offer the C15 in a 600 hp rating.

New tandem- and steer-drive axles announced by Dana

Dana Corp. is coming to market with new tandem-drive and steer axles.

The new Dana Spicer D170 series, includes high GCW, single reduction, tandem drive axles, which the company claims are designed to improve truck performance in some of the industry’s most demanding applications, including logging, refuse, construction, and other heavy hauling.

Gross Axle Weight ratings range from 46,000 to 50,000 lbs. with gear ratios from 3.07 through 7.17. Dana expects the axles to be particularly popular in Canada, where payloads are on the higher end.

Like many of the other recent additions to Dana’s new line of axles, the D170 series includes extra wide face-width gearing for increased strength and durability with heavier loads and significantly larger wheel differential gearing for maximum strength and reliability. A patented on-demand lube pump with internal no-maintenance filter is offered as an option.

Two new steer axles have also been added. The new Dana Spicer D-600N and D-700N axles are specially designed for the Class 4 and 5 low-cab-forward (LCF) market.

Both the D-600N (6,000-lb. GAWR) and the D-700N (7,000-lb. GAWR) include innovations such as: a new power rib design claimed to improve weight and handling; two in-line draw-keys with spring washer retention claimed to improve durability and alignment capability; and new tie rod ends with a sealed boot and grease purge valve.

Western Star offers lightweight option for 4900 SA truck

Western Star has designed its 4900 SA tractor for weight-sensitive operations such as bulk and regional hauling. It has a dry chassis weight of about 15,300 lbs., equipped with a 68-in. Stratosphere sleeper and 435-hp MBE400 engine, claimed to be the lightest 13-liter engine available (about 125 lbs. lighter than comparable large bore engines on the market, according to Western Star.)

Other significant weight-saving features include Eaton’s Lightning 10-speed manual transmission; a 1,300-square-inch cross flow aluminum radiator; aluminum cross members; lightweight carrier housings for driver axles; and Michelin X-One single tires on tandem axle wheels ends.

Western Star is also making its LowMax package available on the 4900 FA model.

New medium-duty Peterbilt makes debut at Mid-America

Peterbilt introduced a new medium-duty vehicle – the Model 335 – at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

The new vehicle goes into production in May and will be available in Class 6 and 7 truck and tractor configurations.

The Model 335’s sloping, aerodynamically styled hood is lighter and improves visibility over its predecessor. The one-piece hood with integrated fenders is made of Metton, a composite lighter weight material Peterbilt believes also has the durability to reduce repair and replacement costs.

Also new on the Model 335 are repeater lights located on the quarter fenders, complementing those in the headlamps, to more visibly signal lane changes and turns to vehicles to the side and rear.

A new forward lighting system provides 40% better down-road coverage than conventional sealed-beam systems, according to Peterbilt. The lighting design creates a higher intensity beam with a broad, even distribution for nighttime visibility.

Other visibility enhancements include a new side-view window that is 85% larger and repositioned side-view mirrors for improved view. Optional rear corner windows and a larger, standard rear window introduced last year further improve visibility.

Also included on the Model 335 is a hood tilt assist and anti-blow-down locking mechanism.

The Model 335 can be spec’ed as a dry freight van or with a platform body.

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