Louisville, KY. The Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) exhibits were crowded Wednesday evening at MATS as several of the company’s entities shared previews of new products and new programs with customers and members of the press before the show officially opened this morning. 

Freightliner

Freightliner Trucks announced the release of several new options for its Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution models, each developed to enhance driver performance and safety and further contribute to the comfort and productivity of the Cascadia and Cascadia Evolution.  Some of the options previewed included:

  • The ParkSmart HVAC system combined with Optimized Idle, which is designed to automatically start the engine if both the main and auxiliary battery packs are depleted. Cab temperature is controlled by the ParkSmart HVAC system and the Optimized Idle system will monitor the battery voltage and oil temperature and start the engine when necessary.
  • A new yellow B-pillar grab handle option that is more visible for cab entry, especially when it is dark outside.
  •  The new 12.5K -rated leaf spring suspension to complement the Detroit front axle offering and provide a smoother ride with lighter weight than a 13.3k suspension.
  • Genuine Bendix AD-9SI air dryer: More than 40% lighter with an additional 25%  increase in capacity over the current AD-IP dryer, this new air dryer has a spinon cartridge, enabling faster replacement.
  • LED flush-mounted lights to provide bright and clean light. The new back-of-cab flush mounted LED lights also draw less amperage and have a longer life than incandescent lamps.
  • New daycab roof fairings redesigned to optimize aerodynamics for non-Evolution Models. The new Cascadia day cab roof deflector improves aerodynamics, resulting in up to a 3.7% increase in fuel economy.
  • A bulb-out detection system that automatically performs a check to determine if exterior lamps are functioning, and notifies drivers via an in-dash light if an exterior lamp fails to turn on.

 Freightliner Trucks also announced that the Cascadia natural gas tractor is now available with a 48-inch sleeper cab and factory-installed compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel tanks. The Meritor WABCO OnGuard Collision Safety System is also now available on Cascadia natural gas-powered tractors spec’d with a manual transmission.

 In other news, the company announced that its Team Run Smart program will offer rewards for participation in the online community. “Run Smart Rewards” is a new offering the community will provide in addition to the industry resources and tools already available to help owner-operators, company drivers and fleet managers advance in the business of trucking.

 “Run Smart Rewards” are awarded to the more than 15,000 Team Run Smart members who share their time and advice within the community. The more a member participates, the more “miles” they earn, and the more rewards they can redeem.

“‘Run Smart Rewards’ is a great opportunity for us to recognize our community members for their loyalty to and participation in Team Run Smart,” Mary Aufdemberg, director of product marketing for Freightliner Trucks, told the audience, “This program will allow us to show appreciation to our members and help us to facilitate a rewarding community experience overall.”

 Once a Team Run Smart member hits a major milestone, they will be able to choose between merchandise and on-the-road tools as a gift. The “Run Smart Rewards” include everything from custom water bottles and hats, to mud flaps and truck decals.

 Western Star

In the Western Star Truck Sales, Inc. exhibit, there was also plenty of news, including an announcement that, due to increased demand, the company has started manufacturing the Western Star 4700 at the DTNA truck manufacturing plant in Cleveland, NC. The truck is also produced at the Portland, OR truck manufacturing plant.

 “We’re pleased that our customers and the market have embraced the 4700 for their businesses,” said Ann Demitruk, director of marketing for Western Star. “The 4700 encompasses the best of what we have to offer – tough and rugged components for the most rigorous of applications – packaged for today’s tighter budgets.”

 The new Western Star Optimus Prime truck, which will star in Paramount Pictures’ upcoming “Transformers: Age of Extinction” movie, turned the heads of Transformer buffs and truckers alike. Developed specifically for the new Michael Bay film, “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” many styling cues were leveraged from a new Western Star on-highway vehicle that will be unveiled in fall 2014. The new Western Star truck will be badged as a 5700.

 The company also announced that the Detroit Virtual Technician onboard diagnostic system is now standard on 2014 Western Star 4700, 4800 and 4900 truck models equipped with Detroit GHG14 and newer engines. Developed in collaboration with Zonar Systems, the award-winning Virtual Technician technology has already benefitted more than 70,000 trucks.

 Virtual Technician’s diagnostics prevent unnecessary downtime at eight out of 10 fault events through its instant assessments, according to the company. Virtual Technician is the industry’s only diagnostic system that captures vehicle data before, during and after a fault event to provide a more accurate diagnosis and generate uptime, they noted.

 The availability of the Eaton UltraShift PLUS automated transmission for Western Star’s 4800 model was also unveiled at MATS. Already available for the 4700 and 4900 truck models, the UltraShift PLUS is a tough and efficient option that complements Western Star’s powerful performance, they noted.

The UltraShift PLUS, available in six transmission models, suits the needs of both on-highway and vocational applications, and features maximum power capacity, superior acceleration and low-speed maneuverability, said Demitruk.

Additionally, the Meritor’s WABCO Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is now available on all Western Star 4900 truck models.

Detroit Diesel

Detroit Diesel Corporation also had good news to share with attendees. The company announced that it has received 17,000 orders for the Detroit DT12 transmission. Available in the Freightliner Cascadia Evolution and part of the Detroit product offering, the DT12 combines the operational ease of an automatic with the efficiency of a manual transmission, resulting in enhanced fuel economy, vehicle performance and safety.

“Within the first several months of the DT12 being in the market, we were already hearing from our early adopters that not only were they seeing performance and fuel economy benefits, but that their drivers particularly appreciated the transmission’s safety and operational features,” said Richard Shearing, vice president of national accounts for DTNA. “Many of those customers have since made additional purchases for their fleets due to that initial success.”

 Alliance Truck Parts

Alliance Truck Parts announced that it has expanded it remanufactured brake shoe and kit product line to include new EG brake lining options. The new brake lining options, rated for use on tandem axle tractor trailers up to 20,000 lbs., are manufactured for performance and durability.

 “We’re proud of the expanded brake lining options and particularly of the quality we’ve achieved on these critical parts,” said Wayne Turner, aftermarket product marketing manager for DTNA. “We’ve been working with our distribution network and customers to meet the market demand for quality wheel end products at a good price. These new brake lining options in our remanufactured brake shoe kits do just that; they provide customers with a quality product at a great price.”

 DTNA

DTNA announced the expansion of its Finish First technician training program for Freightliner and Western Star commercial vehicles in partnership with Universal Technical Institute (UTI). According to DTNA, the expansion comes in response to growing demand from its dealerships across the country for more qualified truck technicians. DTNA will launch the expansion of the Finish First program at UTI’s new facility in Lisle, IL near Chicago on July 28, with the same curriculum available at the current Finish First program site in Avondale, AZ.

 The Finish First program utilizes DTNA certified instructors to teach students about vehicle components such as suspension, brakes, steering, electrical and HVAC systems, as well as advanced multiplexed architectures featured in today’s trucks. The technicians graduate from the 12-week program with full Freightliner and Western Star certifications, providing an advantage to hiring dealerships as they can immediately begin working and providing customer value in the shop.

 Another new DTNA program, this one targeted to customers, was also announced during the Wednesday event. Dubbed the “TruckBucks” rewards program, the new offering rewards program member customers who shop within the DTNA network of Freightliner, Western Star, Detroit and Thomas Built Buses retail locations with special incentives throughout the year. Specials include discounts on select parts and services, which are automatically deducted at check-out without the need for coupons or further action by the customer.

 DTNA dealers are celebrating the success of yet another program, Elite Support Certification, launched earlier to further enhance dealership customer service levels. The network of Elite Support Certified dealers is celebrating five years of growth and success among the broader DTNA dealer network. Since its inception in 2009, the number of dealerships achieving Elite Support Certification has grown steadily every year to its current number of 129.

“Dealership involvement is the key,” said Jennifer Stevenson, director of distribution development at DTNA. “The dealers have really pushed the idea of continuous improvement in their own organizations, adding new criteria every year to improve their own efficiency and provide better service to their customers.”