SAINT-THERESE, Que. - Peterbilt is forging ahead in the medium-duty market with the 335 model, which truck writers got a chance to drive recently on a test track at the company's assembly plant in Saint-Therese, near Montreal, Que.
CLASSIC LOOK: Peterbilt’s 335 model went into production in May, 2004 and company officials say it is a newer version of the old classic Pete.
DRIVER COMFORT: Changes have been made to the interiror of Pete’s 335 model in order to optimize driver comfort and safety .
SAINT-THERESE, Que. – Peterbilt is forging ahead in the medium-duty market with the 335 model, which truck writers got a chance to drive recently on a test track at the company’s assembly plant in Saint-Therese, near Montreal, Que.
The 335, a follow up to Peterbilt’s 330, was originally introduced at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March, but ride and drive attendants got a chance to see it in action for the first time this October.
The company is touting the vehicle (which actually only went into production in May), as a new take on the old long-haul Pete Classic, with lines and an interior design reminiscent of the boxy Pete shape but updated for better visibility, durability and drivability. Take for example the two-piece windshield, which not only looks like the classic Pete but is also less expensive to repair (it’s cheaper to replace one pane than two), and the bulkhead style doors.
Peterbilt’s Class 6 and 7 market share in the U.S. and Canada reached record levels in 2003 and annual production was at an all-time high, according to Peterbilt officials, who hope the new Model 335 will continue the trend.
As far as looks go, the Model 335 has a sloping, aerodynamically styled one-piece hood, that’s even lighter and even more visibility-enhancing than its predecessor.
Made of Metton, a composite polymer, the hood reduces the overall weight of the vehicle by 40 lbs. Not to mention the fact that it won’t rust and is surprisingly flexible (a Pete official actually bent the thing around with his hand like a piece of thick rubber) reducing potential repair costs if and when it gets dinged.
The one-piece hood also has integrated fenders. (The new fenders are engineered for use with both 19.5-inch tires and 22.5-inch tires.) And it opens a full 90 degrees, to give easy access for on- road maintenance and repairs.
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.
The Model 335’s chromed crown is made of a flexible, impact-resistant polymer that is chromium-plated for additional durability and an appearance that will not dull, fade or require polishing.
And the stainless steel grille provides a long-lasting appearance while providing superior protection to the cooling system, said company officials.
The Model 335 also has a one-piece, stamped-steel bumper that is available in a painted version and a chromed version. FEPTO configurations are also available.
The Model 335’s new forward lighting system provides 40 per cent better down-road coverage than conventional sealed-beam systems, according to a company statement.
The lighting design creates a higher intensity beam with a broad, even distribution for nighttime visibility.
Bulb replacement is simple and requires no special tools or hard-to-find replacement bulbs. Vertical height adjustment can be performed without opening the hood. A Lexan lens that prevents chips and cracks protects the entire assembly. In fact, according to Peterbilt officials you can even take a sledgehammer to the lights assembly and the Lexan lens won’t crack. Unfortunately there weren’t any sledgehammers on hand to test the claim.
Other visibility enhancements include a new side-view window that is 85 per cent larger and repositioned side-view mirrors for improved view. The mirrors are attached to the cab body rather than the door, for improved visibility when entering and exiting the cab. (Don’t worry, the mirrors can be positioned so the door won’t hit them when opened and the door only opens 75 degrees.)
Optional rear corner windows and a larger, standard rear window, introduced on the 330, also improve visibility.
Hood tilt assist
Also demonstrated at the ride and drive was the Model 335’s hood tilt assist and anti-blow-down locking mechanism, especially handy for drivers working under windy conditions. Inside the hood handhold is an ergonomic lever that releases the mechanism and allows the hood to close easily.
The system also isolates the hood from the transfer of road noise and impact shocks absorbed by the chassis, providing a quiet ride, which is only made quieter by the double layer of insulation provided inside the cab under the floor mat.
The ride is surprisingly rattle-free. (The lack of a doghouse in the cab also helps.)
Also included in the Model 335 interior are a number of upgrades to enhance operator comfort, productivity and ergonomics.
For example, enough room in the day cab to push your seat back and make room for that extra five pounds or so you put on last year. And the HVAC comes standard.
Interior styling has also been made more contemporary through, for instance, a new two-tone color pattern that includes plush charcoal-and-gray seats.
Also included are:
Colour-matched fasteners, speaker grilles and instrument panel fixtures
Optional chrome gauge bezels
HVAC registers with chrome-style accents
New two-tone seats with side bolster support
New interior door latch design
Chrome manual window cranks
New dome light with independent operator- and passenger-side lighting
Standard cup holder with 12-volt power outlet.
The automotive look is made tangible through the automatic transmissions also available on the 335.
And the availability of hydraulic brakes as well as disc brakes makes stop-and-go applications, especially in an urban environment, that much easier.
(At certain weights in certain jurisdictions you don’t even need a CDL to drive a Class 6 with hydraulic brakes.)
Van/platform body to go
The new Model 335 can be delivered already equipped with a dry freight van or platform body. Through the new program (with America’s Body Company), customers can order and take delivery of a complete, ready-to-work chassis/body unit directly through their local Peterbilt dealership. The order-to-delivery cycle requires a single invoice.
Other body programs available on the Model 335 include Heil dump bodies and London mixer bodies.
The truck’s frame rails are nice and clean – drilled only with holes to accommodate the attached body in order to reduce structural weaknesses.
Wiring is bundled and hand-routed inside the frame, with tubing and spot padding in place to reduce chafing.
Huck bolting is everywhere, from the frame to the doors, for increased durability.
The spectrum of possible applications for the 335 in the medium-duty market were in evidence at the Saint-Therese, Quebec event, where trucks spec’d for wrecking, pick-up and delivery, beverage and gas hauling and construction were all on display and available for testing.
Three out of four were equipped with automated transmissions – of obvious appeal to fleets looking to fill their trucks with less experienced drivers.
The trucks come equipped with CAT C7 or Cummins ISC engines, Dana Spicer or Meritor axles (rated 19,000 to 40,000 lbs. at rear), proprietary taper leaf springs with shocks in front and rear suspensions by Peterbilt – Air Trac or Low Air Leaf – or Reyco or Hendrickson in back. Transmissions are Fuller or Allison, automatedor manual. The available clutches are Eaton Fuller.