After 16 months of wind-tunnel testing and over a million hours of design work, Freightliner Trucks has launched
the new Cascadia on-highway truck. It’s said to deliver a fuel-economy improvement of 3% based on a 20% gain in 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.

The Cascadia, which will replace the Century Class and Columbia before 2010, will come in two BBC lengths, 113 and 125 in., first in day cab and 72-in. sleeper versions. By June 2008 there will also be 48 and 60-in. sleeper models.

Other fuel-saving features on the new truck include a fully integrated, battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system
and an engine cooling system that minimizes engine fan and air-conditioning compressor on-time. Characterized by its huge, 20% larger grille to accommodate the high heat rejection of this year’s engines, and those of 2010, the truck’s standard radiator is 1625 sq in., up from 1200 sq in. on the 2004 Century Class. A 1750 sq in. rad is available for engines over 500 hp.

Aside from the clean new styling of the aluminum Cascadia, other features include a 20% bigger, quieter, and more comfortable cab with ergonomic controls to enhance driver comfort. Driver interviews and feedback led the design team to create a wider cab with extensive lighting and 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. A brief test drive
confirmed this. With larger seats, 29% 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 solid 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. Rack and pinion also offers a 45-lb weight saving.

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 an optional roped-in windshield that can be changed in 16 minutes, extended-life headlamp bulbs, and easy access to the engine and accessory components. Both hood and bumper are assembled as three separate pieces, making repairs potentially cheaper and faster.

The Cascadia was designed to accept EPA ’07 emission 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 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.

Present engine choices include the standard Detroit Diesel Series 60, with 425 to 515 hp; the MBE 4000 with ratings of 370 to 450 hp and the Caterpillar C15 with ratings from 435 to 550 hp are available options. The Eaton Fuller FRO-15210C 10-speed manual transmission is standard, with both UltraShift and Autoshift available as options.

Other specs include GVWRs of 35,000 to 71,000 lb with a GCWR of 92,000 lb; standard front taperleaf suspension rated at 12,000 lb; optional spring suspension rated at 14,600 lb; standard rear AirLiner suspension rated at 40,000 lb; and an optional AirLiner suspension rated at 21,000 lb.

The Cascadia was to be ready for order in mid-May, with trucks rolling off production lines in August.

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