Born in the USA!

December 5, 2019
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The second North American Commercial Vehicle (NACV) Show recently took place in Atlanta, and we had the opportunity to check out the wares of the 473 exhibitors and learn about the latest technologies at play globally (see page 14 of this issue for the latest on vehicle autonomy)

The North American Commercial Vehicle Show featured the biggest names in Class 8 trucks and trailers, including Daimler, Dana, Hino Trucks, Hyundai, Kenworth, Mack, Navistar’s International, Peterbilt and Volvo.

The show took place during a particularly good time for truck manufacturers that are selling to North American operators. At the Peterbilt press conference, the company predicted that around 310 000 to 320 000 Class 8 trucks would be sold in the United States (US) and Canada this year, softening to between 230 000 and 260 000 units in 2020.

Trucks galore!

So, what trucks are those operators buying? Daimler showed around 20 trucks, including the latest Freightliner Cascadia with partially automated driving functions (SAE Level 2). The top-selling truck in the US, it was recently enhanced with additional aerodynamic and powertrain management improvements to provide up to a five-percent fuel efficiency gain over the previous model.

The latest Cascadia boasts the Detroit Assurance 5.0 suite of safety systems and – with industry-first features such as Active Brake Assist 5.0 with full braking for moving pedestrians, Adaptive Cruise Control to zero miles per hour, and Lane Keep Assist – the truck is setting safety benchmarks.

This stunning Western Star 5700XE certainly grabbed our attention!

“The Cascadia delivers a seamless driver experience and an unrivalled focus on safety to bring us one step closer to our goal of accident-free driving,” commented Richard Howard, senior vice president sales and marketing at Daimler Trucks North America.

With effect from 2021, the Cascadia will be available with the new DD15 Gen 5, which will offer improved fuel economy and lower emissions.

Daimler launched its new Dynamic Lease platform, a telematics-based financing solution that enables commercial vehicle customers to match their lease payments to the actual use of their truck. The company also introduced Excelerator, its new e-commerce platform, which will launch in 2020. Excelerator links Daimler Trucks North America’s dealer management systems, parts distribution centres and Alliance Parts stores to streamline parts ordering and accelerate order fulfilment times.

Dana, in collaboration with Lonestar Specialty Vehicles, launched a fully electrified terminal truck tractor. The powertrain provided by Dana includes the motor, inverter, power electronics cradle, and battery systems. The vehicle has a gross combination weight rating (GCWR) of 80 000 or 101 000 pounds (36,2 to 45,8 t) and is offered in 4×2, 6×2 and 6×4 guise.

Navistar introduced a new business unit called NEXT eMobility Solutions, which delivers customised electrification solutions in the truck and school bus markets. In conjunction with NEXT, Navistar introduced an electrified medium-duty truck and announced new investments in truck connectivity. Navistar also announced that it would be distributing Scania’s mining trucks in Canada.

Daimler Trucks North America has built its first two eCascadia all-electric trucks. Series production is expected in 2021

Peterbilt is anticipating a market share of close on 15 percent of the Class 8 sector this year, and is also eyeing the e-mobility business. “Peterbilt and Paccar are leading the charge with commercial vehicle electrification,” general manager Jason Skoog announced during the company’s media briefing, referring to existing test models including 12 electrified Model 579EV day cabs, a trio of Model 520EV refuse trucks, and a Model 220EV beverage vehicle.

The company plans to have 36 electric vehicles on the road by the first quarter of 2020. “We will begin low-volume production by the end of next year,” Skoog revealed.

While e-mobility was the talk of the town, hydrogen was very topical at the NACV Show, too. The Hyundai HDC-6 Neptune Concept – a hydrogen-powered Class 8 truck – made its debut at the show. Hyundai Translead (HT) lifted the lid on its new, clean-energy refrigerated concept trailer – the HT Nitro ThermoTech – which uses a cryogenic nitrogen refrigeration technology system and is claimed to reduce the carbon footprint of a trailer by 90 percent.

Kenworth showcased a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle and announced that it would collaborate with Toyota Motor North America to develop 10 zero-emission Kenworth T680s powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel-cell electric powertrains.

Kenworth also introduced its TruckTech+ Over-The-Air programme. This enhances uptime for Kenworth Class 8 trucks with 2017 or later Paccar MX-13 and MX-11 engines by making it convenient for customers to download the latest Paccar engine and aftertreatment software updates remotely.

Bosch, which had a hydrogen-powered Nikola truck on its stand, highlighted its investments in the technology. “Last NACV, there weren’t too many people that were talking about this, but that small band of believers has turned into a large band of implementers,” Jason Roycht, vice president for commercial vehicles at Bosch North America, told Transport Topics.

Peterbilt is anticipating about a 15 percent share of the Class 8 sector this year

During the show, Mack introduced its limited-edition Mack Black Anthem, a special run of 500 all-black trucks. They feature a blacked-out exterior trim package and additional interior features.

“The Mack Black Anthem screams power and performance like no other truck on the highway,” Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks senior vice president, North American sales and marketing, commented. “It’s a badass looking truck that puts our customers’ businesses in the black, thanks to the Anthem’s incredible fuel efficiency, together with our industry-leading uptime solutions and ever-strengthening Mack dealer support network.”

Volvo Trucks North America launched its new Volvo VNR 660 truck model, expanding its offerings for regional-haul applications with specs related to length, weight and driver comfort. The VNR 660 combines a high-roof configuration with a 61-inch sleeper that comfortably accommodates an extra person for an overnight stop, making it ideal for local and regional routes that utilise team drivers.

Volvo Trucks also introduced its FlowBelow tractor aerokit, which includes a system of wheel covers and fairings designed for improved aerodynamics and fuel efficiency.

Hino announced its new M Series Class 4/5 cab-over-engine trucks and new L Series Class 6/7 conventional trucks, which – when combined with Hino’s recently launched XL Series Class 7/8 vehicles – create a cohesive family of commercial trucks. Each truck contains larger cab configurations, and a full suite of features adding safety, fresh designs, durability, flexibility and connectivity options.

Lots of other terrific products, too

The NACV Show didn’t just showcase the wares of truck manufacturers; there were lots of other fascinating products and services on display, too.

Meritor launched new, next-generation air-disc brakes; new vocational axle-weight ratings for front non-drive steer axles; new high-efficiency drive axles for vocational, linehaul and 6×2 applications and its 12Xe electric axle for Class 4, 5, 6 and 7 applications.

The Mercedes-Benz Econic was launched in North America last year, where it is badged the Freightliner Econic

The axle, which has a modular design, uses many of the same components as Meritor’s 14Xe full-electric axle, which is now undergoing testing with fleets. It features a range of wheel ends, brakes, transmissions and differential gearing, which can be tailored to meet a vehicle’s duty cycle. The electric motor can be scaled to specific vehicle requirements and delivers 150, 180 or 200 kW.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary during its in-booth press conference, Cummins presented a showcase of power solutions, ranging from advanced diesel engines and powertrain components to connectivity solutions and fuel-cell technologies. Cummins unveiled a heavy-duty truck with fuel-cell and battery electric power.

Power management company Eaton showcased a number of new products across its e-mobility business. The company launched a heavy-duty four-speed transmission for electrified commercial vehicles that is currently being tested with multiple truck makers.

It also introduced a new FLEX Power Distribution Unit that can be used on all types of electrified commercial vehicles. Also, Eaton Cummins announced expanded applications for its Endurant 12-speed automated transmission.

Hendrickson launched its Haulmaax EX, the next generation in heavy-duty rubber suspensions and its new tyre-pressure control system, the Tiremaax PRO-LB. Hendrickson also introduced the Watchman advanced wheel-end sensor technology for trailers that includes trailer tyre-pressure monitoring, wheel-end temperature and wheel-end vibration data that will be communicated to the fleet through a tractor telematics system.

Navistar announced that it would begin distributing Scania mining trucks in Canada

ZF Friedrichshafen announced major investments, including approximately US$ 14 billion (about R205 billion) on autonomous driving and e-mobility for commercial vehicles during the NACV Show.

The company also discussed its development of a new eight-speed automatic transmission for medium-duty vehicles, the ZF PowerLine, which will debut at the end of 2020. It also launched an electric drive axle, the AxTrax, which powers the Freightliner Innovation Fleet eCascadia.

“It offers zero-emission driving with maximised performance and minimal noise emission – ideal for battery electric vehicles, hybrid drives and fuel-cell technology,” explained Christian Feldhaus, head of truck and van driveline technology North America at ZF.

Eaton launched its cylinder-deactivation (CDA) technology that has been proven to help truck makers meet or exceed 2024 and 2027 US emission regulations. Eaton’s CDA is claimed to be the only single technology that can simultaneously reduce both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

Maxion Wheels, the world’s largest wheel manufacturer, unveiled several new commercial vehicle wheels and related innovations – not least of which was the industry’s first wheel-related connectivity solution.

The company is partnering with ZF Openmatics to help fleets perform more safely and efficiently by collecting essential vehicle data at the wheel through its MaxSmart technology. Maxion Wheels’ wheel sensor technology is paired with ZF Openmatics’ intelligent sensing and telematics expertise to offer the Smart Wheel Connectivity Solution, a fully integrated mechanical and sensing solution to help prevent potentially dangerous and costly tyre and wheel-end failures.

Mounted directly to the truck wheel rim, a Bluetooth tag tracks vehicle load, tyre humidity, temperature, and air pressure, as well as wheel position, speed and vibration. Information is collected in real time and transmitted wirelessly to the vehicle’s telematics on-board unit before being transferred to the ZF Cloud. The multiservice sensor will undergo feasibility studies during the first half of 2020, followed by real-world testing and validation.

The 2021 NACV Show takes place in Atlanta from September 27 to 30, 2021. See you there! 

My friends call me a glomad (a global nomad lest you don’t get it). That’s a particularly apt word, because I am always trawling all corners of the globe, looking for stories. As a result, I have slept in some seriously strange places – on a bed of ice in the Arctic circle, on the floor in a traditional Japanese hotel, on the sand dunes in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan … and even on the floor of a Thai cargo ship. Mostly however I tend to sleep on aircraft (if I had a dog, he would bark at me when I eventually come home). I am passionate about trucks, cars, travel, food, wine, people and hugs – so I write about all these things. Except the hugs.

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