Virtual Technician to ride shotgun in new Freightliners, Western Stars

Truck News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. –Freightliner and Western Star trucks with Detroit Diesel engines will soon come standard with a real-time remote diagnostics system dubbed Virtual Technician.

The program was announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show and will be in place on 2011 model year equipment.

Virtual Technician is a proprietary program developed by Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA), which provides real-time vehicle system analysis via remote telemetric vehicle tracking systems, the company explained. The program reads engine diagnostic codes from sensors and components, analyzes and packages the data and then create reports providing recommended remedial actions for the vehicle operator.

The goal is to predict problems before they happen, maximizing uptime and revenue generation. Virtual Technician can also schedule repairs on the driver’s behalf and provide advance notice to the repair facility so the necessary parts are ready and waiting when the truck arrives for service.

“While trucks introduced this year are more powerful, more reliable and more fuel-efficient than ever, they are also more dependent on the electronics systems for control of the engine and aftertreatment,” explained Dale Allemang, Virtual Technician program manager and director of field service at DTNA. “This complexity and the systems that monitor the technology lead to more data and information that can be telematrically shared in real-time to the benefit of the customer, repair facility and manufacturer.”

“With Virtual Technician, maintenance teams will be solving problems as they occur, and better yet, before -making today’s numbers on both the frequency and severity of problems in the field a thing of the past,” added Dave Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy with DTNA.

Cascadia driver lounge

Other product developments announced at MATS included a new driver’s lounge offering for Freightliner Cascadias with 72-inch sleepers. The lounge includes new seat and bed configurations that make the sleeper more “livable.”

Features include a lounge table and cushioned seating area that seats two and can be reconfigured into a fold-away bed.

“For many owner/operators, their truck serves as a home away from home, so we wanted to create a comfortable, livable environment,” said Melissa Clausen, director of product marketing for Freightliner. The driver’s lounge will be an option on the Freightliner Cascadia with 72-inch sleeper beginning this summer.

Victory Lane Edition

Freightliner also announced it’s offering a Victory Lane Edition option for its revamped Coronado. The package allows owner/operators to customize their truck by choosing from a selection of chrome, graphics and branded accessory options.

The options include: a 20-inch chrome front bumper; a stainless drop visor, rear quarter fenders and 60-inch frame cover; custom rear tail light panel with LED lights and chrome bezels; chrome exhaust pipes; Chrome Shop Mafia seats; and dual-branded Freightliner Trucks and Chrome Shop Mafia floor mats and sleeper carpet.

“Freightliner Trucks provides the right tools for owner/operators to really showcase their personality through their trucks,” Clausen said. “The new Victory Lane Edition option package will provide even more choices to help make these already sharp-looking trucks turn heads both on and off the road, as well as appeal to the owner/operator market that follows Nascar.”

Western Star lightweight spec’ option

On the Western Star side of the business, Daimler announced it’s now offering a lightweight spec’ option for its 4900 Series trucks.

They’re intended for liquid and dry bulk applications and agricultural markets where weight is an issue and can save up to 1,200 lbs. The lightweight spec’ option includes more than 200 options from which to choose. Options include a wide range of aluminum parts such as rear engine supports, clutch housings, air tanks and fifth wheel, the company announced.

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