Freightliner launches all new Cascadia highway truck

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – After 16 months of wind-tunnel testing and over a million hours of design work, Freightliner Trucks launched the entirely new Cascadia on-highway truck today.

Built on the existing Columbia/Century Class chassis, the Cascadia delivers a fuel-economy improvement of 2 to 4 percent based on aerodynamic efficiency alone, according to Freightliner LLC president and CEO Chris Patterson. That’s compared to previous Century Class models, which delivered fuel economy on par with the industry’s best, he adds. It’s the first truck built and engineered using Freightliner LLC’s wind tunnel — the only testing facility in the world built specifically for class 8 vehicles.

Other fuel-saving features on the Cascadia include a fully integrated, battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system and an engine cooling system that minimizes engine fan and air-conditioning compressor on-time.

Cascadia’s expandable electronic platform can easily
accommodate 2010 technology, Freightliner says

The truck was also designed to maximize payload. Its aluminum cab boasts a significant weight saving over steel, and the hood, bumper and quarter fenders are said to be lighter than comparable models.

Aside from its clean new styling, other features of the Cascadia include a quieter and more comfortable cab and ergonomic controls to enhance driver comfort.

Freightliner’s rack-and-pinion steering system — the first of its kind installed on class 8 trucks — is an available option. It improves durability through lower system pressure and temperature, provides quicker steering response and reduces steering effort. It eliminates bump steer, and roll steer is significantly reduced, which reduces driver fatigue. It also offers a 45-lb weight saving.

The Cascadia was designed to accept EPA ’07 engines readily and adapt with little change to the new EPA ’10 standards. Its expandable DaimlerChrysler-engineered electronic platform can easily accommodate the technology. It was built to be optimized with the all-new Detroit Diesel heavy-duty engine family, the first of which we’ll see later this year. The Cascadia will be the first truck within the DaimlerChrysler Truck Group to get the new engine, which will be used in DC vehicles worldwide following its Freightliner launch.

At the press introduction here at the Ballantyne Resort, Patterson anticipated a question: Why introduce a new truck now, at a time when sales are slow and freight isn’t terribly plentiful? Because customers have been asking for reduced cost of operations, he said.

“Our customers are faced with the consequences of ever-tightening emissions standards, higher fuel prices, rapidly escalating wages and benefits, and a dire shortage of maintenance technicians,” he said. The challenges of 2010 emissions standards “will only amplify the problem.”

Service savings are said to be part of the Cascadia’s feature set, based on improved diagnostics, an HVAC system designed to reduce repair frequency, and breakaway side extenders. Other ease-of-maintenance features include a roped-in windshield that can be changed in minutes, extended-life headlamp bulbs, and easy access to the engine and accessory components.

Driver interviews and feedback led the design team to create a wider cab with extensive incandescent lighting and a lot of storage space. With double door and window seals, improved engine and cab mounts, additional insulation and a hydraulic clutch, the cab should offer reduced vibration and significantly less road noise. With larger seats, larger door openings for easy entry and egress, more head and belly room, and easier-to-use switches and climate controls, the Cascadia offers drivers the comfort and control they deserve, says Freightliner.

Engine choices include the Detroit Diesel Series 60, with 455 hp standard; an MBE 4000 with ratings of 370 to 450 hp and the Caterpillar C15 with ratings from 435 to 550 hp are available options.

The Cascadia is available for order in mid-May, with trucks rolling off production lines in August.

Look for more detail on the new Freightliner in Lockwood’s Product Watch e-newsletter on May 9 and a full road test in the July issue of highwaySTAR and the July/August issue of Today’s Trucking.

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