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BREAKING NEWS: Daimler Trucks North America unveils addition of Detroit axles to powertrain portfolio

MIAMI, Fla. -- When Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) launched the Detroit brand in October 2011, it envisioned a brand that stood for more than its well-known engine offerings. Today, at a special briefing for the business press, DTNA...





MIAMI, Fla. — When Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) launched the Detroit brand in October 2011, it envisioned a brand that stood for more than its well-known engine offerings. Today, at a special briefing for the business press, DTNA unveiled the first steps it has taken to expand the Detroit product to encompass additional powertrain components.

DTNA announced Detroit axles are now available to order for Freightliner Trucks, Western Star, Thomas Built Bus and Freightliner Custom Chassis vehicles. It marks the first time that the former Detroit Diesel brand has offered axles. Produced at the same facility as Detroit’s engines, Detroit axles include a wide range of configuration options and compatibility with all braking systems offered by Daimler Trucks.

“This will be a core product for Detroit; it will not be a side project,” emphasized David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy, DTNA.

Hames said this is the first step towards what he called a “vehicle integration” strategy.

“Powered by Detroit will eventually mean the full powertrain,” Hames promised. The company is also looking at transmissions and at alternative fuelled engines.

Hames also took time to stress the difference between DTNA’s “vehicle integration” strategy and the “vertical integration” strategy many truck OEMs employ (and which some carriers and O/Os may not be particularly fond of as it reduces choice.)

“Vertical integration is owning your supply chain for the sake of owning your supply chain. Vehicle integration is about coming up with solutions that give your customers a competitive advantage and allow us to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace,” Hames said.”…The next big opportunity for Daimler is how to optimize the powertrain by matching the final drive ratios to the efficiency characteristics of the engine. Doing that without a ‘captive’ engine is a challenge.”

(DTNA will, however, continue to offer both Meritor and Dana axles for customers who wish to go with those brands in their trucks.)

Another reason DTNA wants to have control of its own axle supply is to ensure it does not become subject to supplier constraints down the road. As Mark Lampert, DTNA’s senior vice president, sales and marketing, acknowledged, the supply shortages which have plagued all OEMs have not gone away. Supplier ability to grow their operations remains problematic even though the North American economy is not rebounding as quickly as after past recessions.

Here is more information on the new Detroit axles”

 Steer Axles

Available with ratings from 6,000 to 20,000 pounds – including a 12,500 lb. rating – and featuring a weight optimized I-beam, Detroit’s steer axles, designed specifically for DTNA vehicles, are up to 40 pounds lighter than competitors (13 pounds lighter on average), resulting in more payload capacity and greater productivity, according to DTNA.

Brad Williamson, manager, engine and component marketing, DTNA, said the steer axles include several design advantages. One of these advantages is a needle-bearing design, rather than using bushings, as a way to reduce wear and tighten tolerances. The end result should be better performance and less maintenance, according to Williamson. The use of friction and thrust bearings should also reduce chatter and enhance steerability. The axles’ I-beam design is coupled with an advanced steering layout, resulting in a sharper wheel cut of up to 55 degrees – enhancing maneuverability in the tight turns experienced in more urban applications.

Williamson said Detroit is offering 12 ratings, compared to 7 for Meritor.

“We have the ratings customers need to cover their applications,” he stressed.

Single Rear Axles

Available with weight ratings from 13,000 to 23,000 pounds, Detroit’s proprietary single rear axles have precision-machined gear sets, which Williamson said will boost efficiency and provide higher torque and quieter operation. They are also designed with fewer parts and a larger differential for greater stability on the road and improved durability.

“We have the right solution for every application,” said Williamson. “Detroit axles are engineered tough and built to withstand the harshest of conditions.”

Tandem Rear Axles

Detroit did away with the pinion head bearing on its tandem rear axles in order to create more space for a larger and stronger differential. Combine that with a Topoid off-set design that makes for a nearly 0 degree driveline angle between each axle and Williamson says you end up with a design that reduces vibrations and increases durability.

Additional benefits of Detroit’s tandem axles include an oil deflector which ensures full lubrication of the power divider at very low speeds, eliminating the need for an expensive oil pump; an input seal located inside the bearing cage and separated from the threaded ring for improved sealing, reducing degradation and oil leaks; and a larger power divider for improved stability and reliability. Optional driver-controlled or automatic differential locks further enhance grip and traction.

Detroit tandem axles are available from 34,000 to 46,000 pounds, including an intermediate track 40,000 pound alternative for switching between wide-based single and dual tires.

As important as the new product designs may be, how they are supported in the field is just as or perhaps even more important, Williamson said. A study of more than 600 buyers recently conducted by DTNA found that when it comes to purchasing axles the top factors driving the purchasing decision had to do with service and warranty.

Detroit’s warranty on the axles is 5 years, 750,000 miles. Williamson emphasized Detroit can support its axles in the field through its more than 600 locations in the United States and Canada. The Detroit Carrier Exchange Program enables dealers to exchange or upgrade axles on trucks post-build up to three times with no penalty to ensure fleets get the exact gearing they need.

For more information, go to www.DetroitDiesel.com.


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