LAS VEGAS SPEEDWAY. A new lightweight highway and vocational tractor is being introduced by Western Star this year as the truck maker – a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America – seeks to “re-engage” both customers and dealers with the brand, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2012.

The tractor – rolled out for the press ahead of a special two-week customer/dealer ride and drive event here just outside of Las Vegas – is a version of Western Star’s new 4700 vocational truck model that it introduced back in March 2011 and represents a “new focus” on trying to fill in gaps within the company’s product offerings, noted Mike Jackson, Western Star’s general manager.

(Video: See how the 4700 fits into Western Star’s overall strategy)

“The easy answer to why we’re introducing this tractor is, ‘Why not?’” Jackson told Fleet Owner. “It didn’t take much to add a 5th wheel to our 4700 chassis, converting it to a tractor platform. It’s another way to enhance our product line by adding a lighter-weight tractor as well as one with a lower price point.”

He added that in addition to the six vocational segments targeted by Western Star for its 4700 model – which it considers a “Baby 8” – the new 4700 tractor configuration is aimed at bulk haul, local delivery and construction applications.

(Video: See the official introduction of the 4700 tractor model)

Available in a set-forward and set-back day cab configuration, the company noted that the 4700 tractor offers a wide variety of fifth wheel, wheelbase, engine and transmission selections. It can be spec’d with the Cummins ISC and ISL engines plus the Detroit DD13, offering power ratings from 260 hp to 470 hp. Transmission offerings include Allison Transmission’s fully automatic product line, manual gearboxes from Eaton Corp., and Eaton’s UltraShift Plus automated transmission as well.

Other options for the new 4700 tractor include:

  • Hendrickson and Watson Chalin lift axles to increase the customization options for vocational applications. The benefits include varying weight savings, SPIF compliance, optimized packaging and added durability, just to name a few;
  • New roof fairings and side extenders to help improve aerodynamic performance and maximize fuel efficiency;
  • And a Chalmers rubber suspension option to offer increased stability and traction for off-road applications, plus lower maintenance costs on suspensions and other components such as tires.

Jackson added that the 4700 tractor chassis, like 4700 truck model, were necessary product introductions to “help reinforce the brand direction” Western Star is moving in.

(Video: Michael Jackson provides updates on the 4700 since its introduction last year)

“It’s part of our ‘re-engagement’ effort in the market, to develop a diverse line of premium, rugged, customized yet traditionally-styled trucks that appeals the specialized trucking operator,” he explained.

“Next, we’ll eventually be brining a natural gas-powered truck option to the market – that’s a natural step for us,” Jackson pointed out. “Finally, we’re also working on a new on-highway truck model; a project looking at extremely new styling. But that’s still a ways off in the future.”