Truck Offerings Kick into High Gear

If you thought the economic slowdown would stifle innovation in a depressed truck market, you’re wrong. Apparently manufacturers have been busy planning for the pending upturn. Major introductions at both the Work Truck Show, sponsored by the National Truck Equipment Association, and CONEXPO-CON/AGG, sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, revealed all-new product offerings, as well as a new player in the vocational truck market.

Caterpillar makes its debut

Caterpillar made good on its promise to enter the vocational truck market when it unveiled its CT660 set-back axle truck, which should start shipping in July. It will be followed by the CT680 set-forward axle truck, which will be launched in 2013. Both will be sold and serviced exclusively through the Cat North American dealer network, which offers 2,300 service bays and over 7,000 mobile service trucks.

"When we announced we were going to stop selling truck engines to on-highway truck manufacturers, at the same time, we announced that we were moving down this path," says George Taylor, director of Caterpillar's On-Highway Truck Group. "So for us, it was really about a strategic move that looked at all the current players in the market having their own integrated powertrains and us making decisions that kept us moving forward."

The CT660 will be available with either a 116- or 122-in. BBC. "We will have the full variety of axle configurations on both of the trucks," notes Taylor.

Engine options include the Cat CT11, CT13 and CT15, with displacements of 11.2, 12.5 and 15.2 liters, power ranges from 330 to 550 hp and 1,450 to 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque. The engines combine advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) with a high-pressure common-rail fuel system, precision intake air management system and electronic controls to meet emissions and provide optimum performance. A compact graphite engine block reduces weight by as much as 500 lbs. vs. a conventional iron block.

A combination of dual sequential turbochargers and a precise fuel injection system allows the engines to develop peak torque at lower speeds. This reduces shifting and allows for shifting at significantly lower speeds.

A unique option for the trucks is the Cat CX31 automatic transmission, which traces its roots back to the company’s articulated dump trucks. The CX31, with six forward speeds and one reverse, is built to compliment the torque output of the Cat CT Series engines. The transmission features heavy-duty clutches and gear sets that allow full-power shifts, increasing efficiency and productivity, while reducing drivetrain shock loads.

An electronic control module, mounted directly on the transmission, regulates shift points based on throttle demand and vehicle speed. With adaptive shift logic, the CX31 can sense driver operating style to balance fuel economy and performance. There are two side locations and a high-ouput rear location for the power take-off.

An aluminum lock-up torque converter in the CX31 allows quick starts from a dead stop, even with heavy loads. In addition, the CT660 can also be specified with other transmission options, including the manual and UltraShift Plus Vocational transmissions built by Eaton.

The Cat CT660 will also feature a cab made from aluminum alloy for long life and low weight, one- or two-piece windshields, a modular hood that allows the customer to only replace damaged sections and a three-piece stainless steel bumper.

Class 8 gets a little more crowded

Western Star and Mack both introduced trucks at the "small" end of the Class 8 market.

Western Star, known primarily as a premium custom truck builder, is diving into new territory with the launch of its 4700. "The Western Star 4700 broadens our product lineup to meet the growing needs of value-minded vocational customers who still demand the attributes found in a traditional Western Star truck," says Mike Jackson, general manager. Available in a set-forward and set-back configuration, the 4700 features a 110-in. BBC. It targets the dump, plow, mixer, crane, roll-off and sewer vac markets.

"With the 4900 and 6900, we had played on the fringes of these markets for decades, doing the extreme-duty applications," notes Dan Silbernagel, product strategy manager. "This was actually a natural progression for the growth of the brand to provide a product that brings Western Star the more mainstream customer."

A wide range of powertrain options should meet almost anyone's requirements. "We have three engines with probably 20 different horsepower and torque ratings," says Silbernagel. "We are going to offer the Cummins ISC, Cummins ISL and Detroit Diesel DD13, so that gives us a horsepower range of 260 to 450 in one model, with torque ratings from 660 to 1,650 ft.-lbs."

These will be mated to a range of Allison automatic and Eaton manual transmissions. "One thing that is new to the industry is the Eaton UltraShift Plus at 1,150 ft.-lb. of torque married behind the Cummins ISL 9-liters engine," says Silbernagel.

Body upfitting was a design priority. There is an electrical racway for the upfitters and the body builder connections are all in one spot. "It is just kind of plug and play," says Silbernagel. "Having in-cab connections increases the reliability of the entire electrical system."

A single-channel, 3.2-million RBM rail saves weight over double-channel rails and reduces the possibility of corrosion. This rail is custom punched to eliminate unnecessary holes that can reduce frame strength.

Mack Truck also identified a growing demand at the light end of the Class 8 market. The Granite Medium Heavy Duty (MHD) fills this void. "In the current economic environment, companies are taking an even harder look at how much truck they really need," says Curtis Dowart, vocational products marketing manager. The Granite MHD is designed to meet the needs of customers for whom a lighter spec gets the job done.

The Granite MHD, available in both axle-forward and axle-back configurations, is powered by a Cummins ISL9. This 9-liter engine pumps out 345 hp and 1,150 lb.-ft. of torque. An Eaton manual or Allison automatic transmission is available.

This truck is built on the same Cornerstone Chassis that has proven reliable on the rest of the Granite line. The Cornerstone's constant frame rail height and high-strength steel alloy design creates strong, yet light frames. A new 7-mm frame rail thickness is ideal for the MHD. The truck also uses a UniMax front axle with sealed and maintenance-free axle hubs. The short distance from bumper to tire provides front-end swing clearance, sharp wheel cuts and a tight turning radius. The 16,500-lb. axle capacity is best suited for the Granite MHD, but four axle options are available – 12,000-, 14,600-, 18,000- and 20,000-lb. capacities, depending upon chassis configuration.

Renewed Focus

Freightliner is getting serious about the vocational truck market and is rolling out a complete line of vocational products.

Dave Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy, admits that in the past Freightliner was primarily an on-highway company. While the company built a strong reputation in the vocational market with the FLD-SD product line, capacity was often hindered by on-highway production. That has changed. "Freightliner is committed to vocational trucks," says Hames.

As evidence, Freightliner rolled out two new models, the 114SD and 108SD, to fill out its vocational truck line, which also includes the previously announced Coronado SD. The 114SD features a 114-in. BBC and is available with a set-forward and set-back axle configuration. The set-forward axle features a standard 31-in. front axle position and an optional 29.5-in. bridge formula configuration. The set-back configuration has a 48-in. axle setting for maximum maneuverability.

The 114SD offers a choice of Detroit Diesel DD13 or Cummins ISC or ISL engine. The DD13 offers a power range from 350 to 450 hp and 1,250 to 1,650 lb.-ft. of torque. The Cummins options provide a power range from 260 to 380 hp and 660 to 1,300 lb.-ft. of torque.

"With the 114SD, we really focused on packaging," says Ivan Neblett, vocational product manager. "All of the components – the exhaust, the fuel tank, your diesel exhaust fluid – is all packaged under the cab to leave more room for the equipment manufacturer to upfit the chassis."

Like its 114-in. BBC sibling, the 108SD with a 108-in. BBC is geared toward the vocational segment, with key markets including municipal, sewer vac, snowplow, light-duty dump and crane trucks. "The max power is up to 350 hp with 1,050 ft.-lbs. of torque," says T.J. Reed. The 108SD is propelled by a Cummins ISB or ISC engine, which provide 200 to 350 hp and 520 to 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque.

Axle ratings range from 10,000 to 20,000 lbs. for front axles. Single and tandem rear axle options range from 21,000 to 46,000 lbs.

"When you have a lot of equipment in a short area, mid-chassis packaging is absolutely key," notes Reed. "We have to package as much as we can underneath the truck cab. So we have packaged an 80-gal. fuel tank, a 6-gal. DEF tank and our battery box all underneath the cab. On the passenger side, we have a single box aftertreatment system that offers clean back of cab, as well."

"From the vehicle perspective, the visibility and maneuverability are absolutely key," states Reed. "The 108SD features a 42-in. set-back axle and has a wheel cut up to 50°. So it provides some pretty flexible steering geometry. It makes the truck extremely maneuverable."

The new SD family incorporates a steel-reinforced aluminum cab and unique chassis packaging with options such as front frame extensions and radiator-mounted grilles for body attachment applications. Front and rear power take-offs and body-specific chassis layouts match the truck to the application.

A complete offering of single- and double-channel frame rails feature a tensile strength of up to 120,000 psi and an RBM rating up to 4.4 million in.-lbs. per rail. Combined with the Coronado SD, Freightliner now offers a complete solution for all vocational applications by BBC, engine displacement and axle capacity. 

Updates on medium duties

On the medium-duty side of the business, Navistar rolled out a 4WD version of its Class 4/5 TerraStar, which fills a current void in the market. This truck will use a chain-driven transfer case, but there is a gear-driven transfer case also under development.

The Terrastar was initially launched last year in a two-wheel-drive configuration. At the heart of the TerraStar is a 300-hp, 6.4-liter MaxxForce 7 V-8 engine that delivers 660 lb.-ft. torque. This engine features a compacted graphite iron (CGI) block that offers high strength without added weight. Advanced EGR leads to even greater weight savings. With no added aftertreatment equipment, the TerraStar provides a clean and clear chassis for body mounting, not to mention less added weight.

A 107-in. BBC helps ensure maneuverability on tight jobsites. The truck is available with optional extended cab or crew cab configurations.