Road tour

by Derek Clouthier

EDMONTON, Alta. — There was a lot of buzz around Kenworth Trucks’ new W990 following its unveiling in Las Vegas this past September, and not everyone was thrilled with the traditional look.

For some, seeing the truck in person makes all the difference, and that was the goal of Kenworth’s road tour, which made a stop in Leduc Nov. 9.

Holding an event at the Edmonton Kenworth to show off the W990, the Leduc stop was the third in Canada, with stops in Montreal Nov. 2 and in Grand Prairie, Alta., Nov. 8.

Mike McDowell has been on seven road tours for Kenworth, and for him, what stands out the most about the W990 is the long hood design.

“A lot of the true Kenworth drivers, who are hardcore drivers, will probably agree,” said McDowell, “seeing the hood back is going to be a big plus.”

The tour was separated into two segments, with the primary segment being the one that included the three Canadian visits.

Jaret Pieper, district sales manager for Canadian Kenworth Company, said each stop on the tour was strategically planned.

“What Kenworth did is we chose the Top 3 dealership groups in Canada, as far as W900 sales went, and influential voices for the W900 to come see this new product – the W990 – in person,” said Pieper. “Passionate drivers drive that traditional looking truck, so we can get big crowds for this one just on that reason alone.”

Pieper said at the Grand Prairie event the day prior, several customers from the vac truck, hot oiler, and fluid haul sectors voiced interest in the W990.

He also said the W900 – the model preceding the W990 – was a big seller in the area. For example, the W900 makes up about 75% of the trucks Greatwest Kenworth in Clairmont, Alta., sells.

“It’s a trucker’s truck…that long nose and traditional truck look,” said Pieper. “They are voices that are very influential and have the acceptance of a new model.”

Pieper did admit that following the W990’s unveiling in Las Vegas that he almost wanted to stop reading some of the opinions he saw on social media about the truck. He said getting influential industry representatives to see the truck in person and share their thoughts on the new model would be the best way to get the word out about the W990.

“To get people to see it in person is much different than in pictures,” he said. “In person, the truck just appears that much more robust and with a classic look.”

McDowell agreed, saying photos taken of the W990 for the road tour “did not do the truck justice” and seeing it in person makes all the difference.

One negative for McDowell being the driver for Kenworth road tours is not allowing himself to get too attached the brand new models he gets to call his own for an all too short a period of time.

“The problem now is that I get separation anxiety because I’m in something just long enough to take it around a few times,” said McDowell. “The trucks today are a luxury car with a better view. And when I’m driving, I’ve got a better view of the road.”

The crowds have certainly come out to see the W990, including in Canada, where McDowell said he has seen more people than usual.

“The reception has been phenomenal on this truck. In the past, usually we’d get crowds of anywhere from 75 to 90. Right now, we’re topping a couple of hundred…which is way beyond what I’ve seen in the past.”

When it comes to what stands out for McDowell on the W990, he said, “It will always be the hood. I always liked the long hood…that would be the number one feature I would look for. It’s like I’m taking a blast from the past (with this truck).”

“Kenworth’s long-hood conventional is the enduring symbol of North American trucking for professional drivers, owner-operators and fleets. The new Kenworth W990 builds upon that strong legacy by delivering the significant, next-step evolution wrapped in traditional styling, craftsmanship, luxury, and power,” added Kevin Baney, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “During the two Kenworth road tours, we’re bringing four Kenworth W990s out on the road for the world of trucking to see and experience.”

Pieper said there were a number of W990s that were set aside for customers who attended Kenworth’s launch event in Las Vegas, each guaranteed an allotment of trucks to be built in the first quarter. Another set of W990s were set aside in the first quarter for dealers’ stock.

Following the Leduc stop, the Kenworth road tour moved on to Billings, Mont., then Salt Lake City, and concluded Nov. 16 in Phoenix.

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