NASHVILLE. The new Meritor 14X HE (short for “high-efficiency”) linehaul tandem drive axle unveiled here at the 2017 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) annual meeting is designed at its heart to save fleets operating at high speeds on highways more money, explained Chris Villavarayan, Meritor’s president of the Americas.

“The long and the short of it is higher efficiency,” he told Fleet Owner. “Our linehaul customers are all about efficiency and this [tandem drive axle] is all about greater efficiency; that’s what drives them.”

Villavarayan added that the 14X HE generates 1.5% to 2% greater efficiency – “nothing is more important” – and is 30 lbs. lighter than Meritor’s 14X tandem drive axle due to specific design changes.

First, Meritor pointed to the use of laser welding in its axle manufacturing process to reduce weight and drive design efficiencies. For example, the 14X HE’s ring gear is laser-welded to the differential housing, offering a more robust joint that eliminates fasteners and reduces oil churning losses. The axle also sports “superfast ratios” down to 2.15 for aggressive downspeeding.

Charlie Allen, Meritor’s general manager for rear axle drives, explained to Fleet Owner that the 14X HE reduces “oil churn” by pushing lubricating oil out into the axle housing – thereby giving “a shot of oil” to the wheel hubs in the process – without the need for complicated electronics.

“It’s a highly efficient yet simple design,” he said.

Meritor said, based on today’s diesel prices, a fleet with 1,000 trucks equipped with the 14X HE could realize $1 million per year in fuel savings.

The company added that the 14X HE is one of 20 new global products Meritor plans to introduce as part of its “M2019” strategic plan ovetr the next two years.