Freightliner Bringing the MB Sprinter Van to North America

Freightliner LLC plans to assemble and market the Sprinter commercial van in North America in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz. With this van, Freightliner makes its first major expansion into the lighter duty segment of North American commercial vehicles market.

The Freightliner Sprinter will be offered initially in cargo and passenger van configurations for parcel, package, and general delivery; as passenger transportation for municipalities, airports, and shuttle services; and for light construction and services from utilities to landscaping. The Sprinter van complements Freightliner's existing line of Class 3-6 walk-in van chassis products, which captured 65% of this diesel van market in 2000.

“The Sprinter is a totally new van concept in North America,” said Freightliner President Jim Hebe during the unveiling at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville KY. “It's a timely response to a need for more versatile, more efficient light-duty delivery vehicles — a need precipitated in large part by the revolution being wrought by e-commerce and online retail.”

Freightliner will begin assembly in May of the Mercedes-Benz-designed Sprinter in its manufacturing plant in Gaffney SC.

“The Sprinter is the top-selling commercial van in the highly competitive European markets”, said Dr Rolf Bartke, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Unit. “We are confident that it will become the new benchmark for this segment in the North American market.”

The Freightliner Sprinter will set new standards in fuel efficiency, functionality, ergonomics, performance, and safety for the Class 2-3 vehicle range, which includes vans, van cutaways, cab/chassis, and other segments. It will be available in three basic configurations — cargo van, passenger van, and cab chassis — each with three wheelbase lengths, two GVWs, and two roof heights.

The heart of the Sprinter van powertrain is its Mercedes-Benz 5-cylinder in-line turbocharged diesel engine, which delivers better fuel economy, longer maintenance intervals, and better durability.

“The Mercedes engine technology allows the Sprinter to perform like a V-8 gasoline engine, yet provides customers with a smooth running van with greater fuel economy,” Hebe said. The Mercedes-Benz 5-cylinder Common-rail Direct Injection (CDI) engine has a 156-horsepower rating with 244 ft-lb of torque. The engine is matched with a standard 5-speed automatic transmission.

The Sprinter is available in two roof heights: a 64-inch standard interior height and a 73-inch high roof model. With the 73-inch roof, the cargo van configuration provides up to 473 cubic feet of cargo space and can haul payloads up to 5,100 pounds.

The Sprinter design incorporates full-height rear doors for efficient access to the cargo compartment. Its sidewalls are nearly vertical from the floor to the bottom of the window. This provides more useable space and creates a larger working space for interior conversions and for mobile workshops such as locksmiths, plumbers, electricians, and others.

With a sharp sloping hood and expansive windshield, drivers have exceptional forward and side visibility. A tight turning radius allows operators to navigate narrow urban and suburban roads, and reduces the need for backing up. The standard power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering provides excellent steering response and road feel. The Sprinter has four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, driver and passenger air bags, and impact absorbing interior panels for increased safety.

The Sprinter cargo van configuration will be available starting in June, with the passenger version being available in September. The passenger van can carry 10 people and has a GVWR of 8,550 lb. The passenger and cargo configurations will be available in three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140, and 158 inches. Both are available in roof heights of 64" and 73". The standard cargo van is rated for 8,550 lb with 4,123 lb of cargo capacity. It is also available with a 9,990-lb GVWR for a payload capacity of 5,105 lb.

A cab chassis will be available in 2002. The 8,550 GVWR will be built with three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140, and 158 inches. The 9,990 GVWR will come in two wheelbase lengths: 140 and 158 inches.

Freightliner will distribute the Sprinter throughout the United States and Canada through a dedicated Freightliner light commercial vehicle dealer network now being established in large metropolitan markets. These dealers will have dedicated facilities and resources to support the light commercial customer.

Chassis has 14" Cargo Floor Height

The ultimate in low floor height is this Marmon-Herrington low floor, front drive conversion. The chassis chosen for this exhibit at the Mid-America Trucking Show was a Sterling Actera chassis. Marmon-Herrington in Louisville converted the chassis to front wheel drive using its steer drive axle with double cardon steering joints. At the rear, a Dallas Smith Corporation axleless suspension provides a 14" floor height.

Marmon-Herrington is converting standard chassis to low-floor front-drive for several shuttle bus manufacturers and now wants to expand applications to freight vans, ambulances, recycling trucks, and other vocational trucks. Marmon-Herrington, 13001 Magisterial Drive, Louisville KY 40223.

Webb Wheel Develops Long-Life Brake Drum

Webb Wheel Products has added a new series of brake drums to its Platinum Series product line.

The Platinum Brake Drum uses a new material for which Webb has a patent pending. The product delivers extended life through low wear, resistance to heat checking, and exceptional strength. The drum is available for all popular truck and trailer axles, with additional applications to follow. Webb Wheel Products, Cullman AL, is a member of The Marmon Group of companies.

Bendix Completing Testing of Air Disc Brakes

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems announced that it is nearing completion of fleet testing its North American Air Disc Brake, the Bendix ADB 225. Initial performance data has shown that the brake reduces stopping distances by as much as 39% over today's stopping distance regulations, which exceeds the NHTSA's proposed 30 percent reduction for 2007.

The Bendix ADB 225, designed for 22.5-inch wheels, is the company's first air disc brake designed specifically for North American applications.

The Bendix ADB 225 mono block caliper design differs from the European two-piece caliper model currently sold in North America, making the brake more compact and able to fit most North American truck wheel end envelopes. The mono block design provides up to a 10 percent weight savings over the lightest drum brake, and its high overload capacity eliminates the need for anti-compounding.

The Bendix ADB 225 features improved sealing from the environment over previous disc brakes, resulting in longer brake life and lower maintenance costs.

Overall improved performance, combined with design enhancements, reduces vehicle downtime for service by as much as 80 percent. Pad life is improved by 30 to 50 percent.

The Bendix ADB 225 applies brake pressure evenly and efficiently to all wheels. This feature improves in-lane braking stability and provides an overall smoother ride, resulting in a passenger-car-like feel.

The Bendix air disc brake eliminates fade associated with traditional drum brakes, providing safer stopping in emergency situations and downhill applications. As a comparison, when drum brakes are applied over an extended period of time, such as in downhill applications, the drum's temperature increases, causing the drum to expand. With the Bendix ADB 225, heat causes the rotor to expand toward the brake pad, resulting in virtually no degradation of braking performance.

The Bendix ADB 225 is not subject to fade, providing a constant level of braking pressure and stopping the vehicle quicker. A truck with a GVW of 56,470 pounds traveling at 60 mph will stop 140 feet shorter than current regulations require.

Other features include internal automatic brake adjustment, integrated pad and rotor wear sensing diagnostics, and optimized friction coupling for low noise, and optimum pad and rotor life.

Production of the Bendix ADB 225 is slated for 2003.

The Bendix ADB 225 for North America was developed through the joint venture of Bendix and Knorr-Bremse. The joint venture currently has over two million air disc brakes in service worldwide and produces one million air disc brakes annually.

Truck-Lite Foresees 42-Volt Vehicle Power

Truck-Lite has developed a new product line, known as OmniVolt Universal Lighting Products, that addresses increasing vehicle power demands by operating equally in electrical systems that range from 12 to 42 volts.

With increasing power requirements placed on all vehicles by technical changes and the increasing use of driver comfort and convenience items, engineers agree that higher operating voltages will be required. Other major factors that drive higher voltages include mandated fuel economy standards, mandated emissions standards, and higher electrical loads from convenience features. At TMC and SAE sessions, engineers are preparing Recommended Practices for the use of 42-volt systems. The higher voltage systems are expected to become standard within a few years.

“Efforts in developing Truck-Lite safety lighting products to manage new voltage systems, whether they are 12- or 42-volt systems, began sometime ago,” stated Brad Van Riper, vice-president of research and development for Truck-Lite.

As equipment with higher voltage systems enters a fleet, OmniVolt eliminates the need to add new items to the fleet's inventory of lamps, to meet the requirements of the different vehicles. This simplifies ordering and records keeping, reducing confusion and eliminating errors of selection.

Truck-Lite's LED Super 44 S/T/T 4" round lamp and 2½" LED Model 10 or 2" LED Model 30 Clearance/Marker lamps have already been converted to OmniVolt and will operate, regardless of input voltage of 12, 24, or 42 volts.

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