NAPA, Calif. — Leading the order at a press event here earlier this week was Sterling’s NightShift sleeper, a 60-in. mid-roof, stand-up, walk-in sleeper designed specifically for the LTL, distribution, and leasing markets.
Fleets have been asking Sterling for a lightweight, integral sleeper since it dropped the SilverStar line back in 2002.
While the NightShift sleeper is intended for regional operations where drivers would spend two-three nights on the road instead of two to three weeks, it’s still very strong in driver comfort and storage capacity. It comes standard with an eight-in. coil-spring mattress, there’s 80 inches of floor-to-ceiling space, and an under-bunk, pull-out 32-litre cooler/freezer option.
Optional cabinetry configurations include a pull-out desk, hanging closets, and several overhead storage bins, and there’s room for an entertainment center, too. The sleeper comes with two sliding side windows and a 36 x 10-in. back window, for lots of natural light.
"Our customers wanted a sleeper configuration, and we’ve delivered," says Richard Shearing, Sterling’s manager of product strategy. "It’s a working class sleeper that delivers outstanding comfort and storage capacity, and fleets will benefit from better-rested and more productive drivers."
Sterling will be taking orders for the NightShift sleeper starting in January. It will be available on both 113- and 122-in. BBC versions of Sterling’s set-back-axle tractors, beginning March 2009.
Next up to the plate was Detroit Diesel‘s much-anticipated DD13 mid-range engine, the successor to the company’s MBE 4000 engine scheduled for phase-out prior to 2010. The new powerplant is targeted at regional distribution, LTL, and vocational applications. At 2,540 lb, it’ll be 400 lb lighter than its big brother, the DD15, but offers the same broad 500-rpm peak torque band, and up to five percent better fuel economy than the MBE 4000.
A 12.8-L in-line six, the proprietary DD13 will be offered at 350-450 hp, and 1,350 to 1,650 lb-ft. While the block, crank, pistons and other major components are smaller and lighter than the DD15, 65 of the part numbers are exactly the same as the DD15. Common features include the Amplified Common Rail fuel system (ACRS), DDEC VI electronics, 50,000-mile oil change intervals, and an integrated Jacobs engine brake — producing nearly 550 braking horsepower.
"Many of the design features we included enable our customers to perform their own routine maintenance," says Dave Siler, director of marketing for Detroit Diesel. "The high part commonality reduces inventory costs, and improves familiarity with service procedures."
The DD13 is said to be 2010 ready, with only the addition of the SCR aftertreatment package. It will appear under Freightliner and Sterling hoods beginning in 2009, followed by availability in Western Star product in 2010.
Third up in the order was a Sterling Set-Back 113 natural-gas-fueled Class 8 tractor powered by a Cummins Westport engine. Sterling revealed the truck in May at the Alternative Fuel Vehicles Show in Las Vegas, and has already begun building up to 400 such units for the California ports of Long beach and Los Angeles, where air quality is a growing concern.
"Due to the deterioration in air quality, these two ports have embraced the use of alternative fuels in commercial vehicles.
"At the same time, we’re seeing interest in green transportation technology from utility companies and municipalities across the country," Shearing says. "By introducing the natural-gas powered Set-Back 113, we’re giving our customers a hard working truck that reduces both costs and environmental emissions."
The Cummins Westport engine is an 8.9-liter, spark-ignited, stoichiometric cooled-exhaust gas recirculation (C-EGR) modified ISL platform.
It features an optimized Holset turbocharger to achieve ratings of up to 320 hp. It uses a maintenance free exhaust system with a three-way catalyst to meet 2010 emissions standards. No further aftertreatment is required, Sterling says.
Richard Shearing told reporters the truck has a range of 275 miles on a tank of fuel. At current prices, operating costs are expected to be $6,000 lower per year than a similarly spec’d diesel — that on top of significantly reduced GHG emissions.
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