Daimler Launches 2014 Cascadia, Pushes Fuel Ecomony Limits

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD —  U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood was on hand today as Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) unveiled their new Freightliner 2014 Cascadia Evolution Class 8 truck.

Daimler said that the new Freightliner gets a 7 percent improvement in fuel economy over an EPA 2010-compliant Cascadia equipped with a first generation aero package, and a 5 percent improvement in fuel economy over the current 2013 Cascadia model — even one decked with latest aerodynamic upgrades.

On a closed course test, the Cascadia managed to deliver a whopping 10.67 miles per gallon (MPG). Of course, the truck was spec’d to the teeth with wide-base tires, a 6×2 drivetrain configuration and a Daimler-designed, uber-enhanced trailer that had all the aerodynamic tech currently available in the aftermarket. They ran it on a Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission.

There’s no magic bullet to the fuel efficiency hunt, Daimler execs said — a familiar phrase that seems to be coming from all the big players. Daimler emphasized the aerodynamic improvements on the young Cascadia as well as a newly designed Detroit DD15 engine.

Aerodynamic Upgrades

They made several changes to the frontal area of the truck to improve aerodynamics:

  • a new air dam,
  • bumper closure,
  • and a hood-to-bumper fill

Daimler said they improved the windshield seal, integrated the antenna, gave the mirrors an elliptical shape, plus added new wheel covers on the rear tandem axles, chassis side fairings and popped on 20-inch side extenders.

Freightliner’s proprietary Run Smart Predictive Cruise system — which evaluates the road profile a mile in advance, calculates the most efficient speed and then adjusts the trucks actual speed — will come standard with the new Cascadia.

Another notable change was a 1,400 square-inch radiator with a revamped baffling system and new radiator mounting design that, Daimler said, improves cooling capacity and increases durability.

Detroit DD15 Re-Design

The re-designed DD15 engine has a a proprietary asymmetric turbocharger with a next-generation amplified common rail system (ACRS). The asymmetric turbocharger, Daimler said, is less complex than variable geometry turbos and is optimally matched to the DD15’s EGR system for “best real world fuel consumption.”

They also dropped 100 lbs. off, and put a new fuel filter module with two filters that they say will lower maintenance costs and won’t have to be changed until 100,000 miles.

The new DD15 also features a variable speed water pump that allows for lower impeller speeds that will result in less parasitic load the comapny claims. They improved DDEC electronics for better engine and aftertreatment system management and an optimized piston was designed for less friction and oil consumption.

The DD15’s BlueTec emissions technology 1-Box package was also optimized to decrease size, weight and complexity.

Pricing for the Cascadia Evolution hasn’t been locked down yet, and the truck isn’t set for production until 2013. The current best truck on the market burns 5.5 percent more fuel than this new Cascadia — which Daimler said it tested against other trucks.

Martin Daum, president and CEO of DTNA, said that he still believes he’ll see the 10 MPG truck in his lifetime. “It’s step by step and it has to be reasonable for our customers.”

We’ll have more pictures and a closer look in an upcoming issue.

(I asked Mike McHorse, marketing segment manager with Freightliner, to walk me through some of the changes to the Cascadia in the video below. Apologies for the shakiness.)

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