An entirely new Class 8 tractor, due to begin production in 2007, was shown to dealers for the first time last month by International Truck and Engine Corp.

Withholding most details, including the new truck's name, the company announced in a later press conference that the heavy-duty conventional would be a direct replacement for the 9400 Series on-highway tractor when introduced in 2007.

Eventually the model lineup will be expanded to also replace International's 9200 Series.

Designed from the start to integrate 2007 emissions technology, the tractor initially will be offered with 2007-compliant diesel engines from Cummins and Caterpillar, according to Tom Baughman, vp and general manager of International's Heavy Truck and Engine Vehicle Center.

Later in the year, the new big-bore engine being jointly developed by International and MAN will be added to the power mix, he says.

The truck will feature an aerodynamic steel cab sitting on an all-new chassis. Aimed at small and mid-size fleet applications, the new design stresses fuel economy and driver comfort, according to International. It will be offered in a day cab, as well as 51- and 71-in. sleeper models.

Fleets will be able to choose from a variety of trim levels ranging from “value” models all the way up to International's premium Eagle packages.

An integral part of International's recently redesigned vocational truck lineup, the company's Aware telematics and multiplexed electronics systems will also be used for the new tractor.

Eight pre-production versions of the tractor are currently out for evaluation by International fleet customers, the company says. They carry Cummins engines fitted with diesel particulate filters and are running on ultra-low sulfur fuel. Caterpillar-powered versions will also be released soon for fleet testing, International officials say.

The first public showing of the new tractor will be next March at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.