Truck and trailer update

SEVERAL truck and trailer manufacturers announced line-up changes during the recent Great American Truck Show in Dallas.

From advanced concepts for future models to model refinements that are available now, here is a sample of what visitors viewed:

Transcraft shows 100,000-lb GVWR drop-deck

Transcraft D-Eagle aluminum/steel combo drop-deck trailer is available with multiple axle configurations for a greater hauling capacity.

With a GVWR of 100,000 pounds, the D-Eagle is a lightweight drop deck trailer that offers a tri-axle rear and/or center axle lift option to allow more payload and versatility — including a 121-inch widespread configuration.

Previously only available as an option on all steel DTL-3000 drop deck trailers, the overall weight reduction is 1,800 pounds on the D-Eagle equipped with the axle lift. With all lightweight options specified, a standard 48-inch × 102-inch D-Eagle tri-axle rear and center lift combo drop deck trailer can weigh as little as 13,000 pounds (+/- standard 3% variance).

Transcraft also announced that:

  • The Transcraft TL-2000H flatbed trailer is available with a new factory-installed Moffett M5000 forklift kit system. The factory-installed system eliminates aftermarket installations that void trailer warranties.

  • The Transcraft DTL-3000 beavertail drop deck trailer with level deck ramp system now includes additional heavy-duty features:

  1. six-inch structural steel side rails for more stiffness to accommodate heavy loads.

  2. recessed D rings to enable heavier loads to have a stronger lashing point.

  3. beveled drop section to allow cargo to roll up onto the upper deck for better utilization of overall deck space.

The DTL-3000 beavertail comes standard with a Hendrickson Quick-Align air-ride suspension, which provides a smooth ride. Loose connections are eliminated with the patented USA Plus — Positive Lock Under Seal System from USA Harness. The specially-designed wiring system is double insulated with double-sealed connectors to protect against corrosion from moisture and road salt.

Freightliner displays hybrid prototype

Freightliner LLC president and CEO Chris Patterson introduced a proof-of-concept prototype utility truck and discussed the company's plans to bring medium-duty hybrid vehicles to the market.

The prototype vehicle on display, a Class 7 Business Class M2 106, is an example of how Freightliner can integrate engine, powertrain, and other vehicle functions with industry-leading and environmentally responsible technology. Freightliner is collaborating on this effort with the Hybrid Business Unit of Eaton Corporation.

The prototype is a full-parallel hybrid, similar to hybrid electric cars, with regenerative braking that recharges the batteries and electric launch functionality. It has an integrated electric motor in line with the engine and transmission, enabling operation with electric or diesel power, either separately or in combination. The truck launches with electric power, and the diesel engine provides additional torque as required.

The prototype is a Business Class M2 106 model with a 33,000-lb gross vehicle weight rating chassis powered by a 230-horsepower MBE 900 engine that offers 660-lb/ft of torque. By incorporating a 44-kilowatt, 59-hp electric motor, the engine can achieve 290 horsepower and 860 lb/ft torque when the electric and diesel motors are paired. Simulations and testing have shown significant fuel economy improvements over conventional diesel engines and promises to greatly reduce vehicle operating costs.

“Freightliner LLC has been testing hybrid vans for some time through our Freightliner Custom Chassis business unit. This prototype is an important step toward future production of a medium-duty hybrid commercial vehicle,” said Michael Delaney, senior vice-president of marketing. “We are bullish on hybrid technology and its future in the commercial marketplace.”

The prototype vehicle on display integrates the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) system with hydraulics for electric power takeoff (ePTO) operation. On a jobsite, the engine remains off for the majority of the operation with the hydraulics being run by batteries. When the batteries get low, the engine automatically turns on to recharge them. This takes approximately five minutes and, when the batteries are fully recharged, the engine automatically turns itself off. Work is not interrupted during this process.

Because of the ePTO operation, utility companies will be able to perform their duties with significantly less idle time, resulting in lower levels of noise, heat, and exhaust emissions. And, because the batteries are charged by regenerative braking, brake shoes will receive far less wear, extending their life and reducing maintenance costs.

Pending final results of tests currently underway with this proof-of-concept vehicle, Freightliner LLC is considering implementing the hybrid system in a variety of medium-duty trucking segments, including beverage, school bus and pick-up and delivery applications (including foodservice distribution and petroleum deliveries).

New medium cabover

Complementing its lineup of medium-duty trucks, Peterbilt is introducing a new cabover, the Model 220. The new Model 220 will initially be offered in Class 7 truck configurations and will be limited to 100 units. Full production and distribution of the Model 220 is scheduled for late 2007, at which time the manufacturer also will offer a Class 6 configuration.

“The Model 220 is based on the award-winning design of the DAF LF, a European market leader for our sister company DAF Trucks, which introduced the vehicle in 2001,” said Dan Sobic, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice-president.

DAF is a subsidiary of Bellevue, Washington-based company.

Peterbilt also announced a new exclusive power option for its medium-duty Model 330, Model 335, and Model 340 trucks — the PACCAR 6.7-liter PX-6 and the 8.3-liter PX-8 engines. The engines are being built for PACCAR by Cummins Engine Co.

“Peterbilt will offer the new PACCAR engines exclusively for its medium duty models, serving customer drivetrain needs with a solution that is optimized for our products,” Sobic said.

Both engines will be available from Peterbilt beginning in 2007. The PX-6 will be available in horsepower ratings from 200 to 325 and torque ranging from 520 to 750 foot-pounds. The PX-6 will be the standard engine for the Class 6 Model 330 and will also be available for the Class 7 Model 335. The PX-8 is available in horsepower ratings from 240 to 330 and torque ranging from 660 to 1,000 foot-pounds. It will be the standard engine for the Model 335 and Model 340.

Western Star Trucks introduces new design

Western Star Trucks announced a redesigned cab front wall that features updated system diagnostic capabilities and streamlines air and electrical routing with improved accessibility and serviceability.

“Body builders will appreciate the improved access to the trucks electrical system along with new user-friendly electrical and airing schematics that aid in their body installations,” said Matt Stevenson, manager of product strategy for Western Star Trucks.

The enhanced design will allow key electrical connections to be serviced from the ground without having to remove additional front wall equipment.

The electrical system has been updated to a modular design concept that will improve serviceability by making it easier to isolate individual electrical circuits and to diagnose issues in the field. Communications capabilities now include SAE J1587/J1708 and J1939 standards with diagnostic access via a nine-pin connector under the dash. The improved electronic system diagnostic capability is standard with the new design.

Hendrickson expands suspension products

Hendrickson International rolled out a cornucopia of new products at the GATS and discussed plans to build a stronger global presence.

New products targeted both trucks and trailers. On the truck suspension front, Hendrickson is introducing two rear suspensions, the Softek Plus and Vocational Airtek, and an independent front suspension that hasn't yet been named. On the trailer side, the company is introducing a new generation of P-90 wheel-end spindles, the second generation of its Hendrickson Unitized System (HUS) along with a brand new HNP wheel end designed to offer a new equipment option between the P- and N-spindles commonly used on trailer wheel ends. Company officials also announced that a platform is coming in 2007 for disk brake technology.

Turning to trailer products, Hendrickson officials said the company has focused designs that give customers flexibility in the way they configure running gear. “In addition to delivering weight savings, durability, and outstanding performance, HNP and HUS wheel-end systems provide complete system integration from axle through wheel end and feature the advantage of a single wheel source,” said Jeff Shahan, program manager, Hendrickson Trailer Suspension Systems.

Factory installation of both HNP and HUS systems locks out contaminates from the assembly process to increase bearing life and help reduce maintenance. Hendrickson's patented axle filter provides additional protection from contaminates.

The P90 spindle gives fleets the choice to use either wide-base or dual tires. This 90mm parallel spindle also promotes even lubrication for the bearings. The HNP and HUS systems accommodate both the zero-offset and two-inch outset wheel-end applications for wide-base tires as well as duals.

These products are part of Hendrickson's new global expansion strategy, as it seeks to become less reliant on North America to provide the bulk of its business. Management discussed several recent developments in overseas ventures.

Hendrickson opened an engineering and sales office in Shanghai, China, in August 2005. “With China expected to produce more than 2.2 million commercial vehicles in the next three years, it represents an extremely important market,” said Keith Stephenson, Hendrickson chief development officer for The Boler Company and president of international operations. “This is the first step in establishing a broad Hendrickson presence in China.”

Hendrickson also launched a 50/50 joint venture with Tata AutoComp Systems Limited (TACO) to produce a full range of truck, trailer and bus suspensions for India. Named TACO Hendrickson Suspensions Private Limited, the joint venture will assemble, market, and distribute steer axle, drive axle, and liftable truck suspensions; trailer suspensions, and bus suspensions to the Indian commercial vehicle industry.

Hendrickson and its parent company (The Boler Company) increased its equity position in an existing joint venture, Muelles y Ballestas Hispano-Alemanas, SA, (MBHA) in Valencia, Spain.

Alcoa wheels get brighter

ALCOA'S new Dura-Bright wheels with XBR technology are brighter than ever and provide customers with wheels that are 53% more reflective and with 74% more image clarity. Alcoa began transitioning in September from original Dura-Bright treatment to new Dura-Bright with XBR technology.

XBR technology penetrates the wheel and allows the shine to withstand years of use. Brake dust, grime, and oil residue wash off quickly and with a spray of soap and water.

Volvo adds automated transmission

Volvo Trucks North America introduced an automated transmission for Model Year 2008 Volvo trucks that will be marketed in the United States and Canada.

The company's I-Shift automatic was designed specifically for Volvo's new family of heavy-duty diesel engines (D11, D13 and D16) that will comply with the 2007 Environmental Protection Agency emission regulations. I-Shift incorporates a host of fuel-saving and productivity-enhancing features into a reliable, durable, and lightweight design.

Volvo will offer three I-Shift models, with the ability to handle all power and torque inputs from its new engine family, including the top 600-horsepower/2,050 lb-ft rating. I-Shift will be available for all Volvo truck models, including the VN and VT highway tractors, and the VHD vocational truck.

I-Shift is a 12-speed, single countershaft transmission built up with a splitter, a main section with three forward and one reverse gear, plus a range gear. It is an automated mechanical transmission and does not use synchronizers in its main section. It does not require a clutch pedal.

The transmission continuously calculates the vehicle's speed, acceleration, torque demand, weight, rolling and air resistance, and road grade to continuously predict and select the most efficient utilization of the engine for the next 30 seconds.

I-Shift is also fully integrated into the Volvo engine brake system, and can automatically downshift the engine to maintain set cruise speeds on downhills.

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