LOUISVILLE, KY.  Peterbilt Motors Company unveiled its all-new Model 579 during the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) here in Louisville, KY, yesterday. More than 400 dealers and members of the press were on hand to see the unveiling.

Bill Kozek, Peterbilt general manager and Paccar vice president, introduced the new model to the crowd, noting that it is the culmination of five years of effort guided by the desire to set new standards for quality, reliability and innovation.

(Photos: See the new Peterbilt Model 579)

“This is the best truck Peterbilt has ever built,” he said. The new model will take top spot in the company’s model line-up when it begins rolling off the line in Denton, TX this May.

“The all-new 579 goes beyond meeting a market demand for an exceptional vehicle that satisfies both the bottom-line and operator expectations,” said Kozek. “The 579 integrates legendary Peterbilt quality and innovation with a product platform that delivers in every aspect of vehicle performance, productivity and safety. From optimized cab dimensions to an enhanced chassis design, and from driver amenities to a revamped electrical system [the 579 comes standard with front air-disc brakes and the Bendix Electronic Stability Control system], every design element of the 579 was analyzed and engineered to provide real-world benefits and business solutions that exceed industry trends.”

 Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer, reviewed some of the highlights of the new model, noting that performance and productivity drove the design process. “Maximizing fuel economy was a priority and we achieved best-in-class aerodynamic efficiency through computational fluid dynamics and subsequent wind tunnel testing,” he said.

According to Sproull, aerodynamic performance is enhanced through modular aero packages that meet the EPA’s SmartWay designation. The aero packages are designed to meet customer optimized requirements, with variable length chassis fairings, sleeper extenders and rubber flares, under-cab close-outs and under-fairing skirts.

The aerodynamic bumper is a three-piece design so individual sections can be replaced if they are damaged, to improve serviceability and reduce costs. The bumper is available with a molded-in-color finish that eliminates cosmetic issues if it is scratched or damaged and a painted finish that is durable and can be matched to any color.

The aero hood also has a three-piece design that was developed to be lightweight, durable and easy to service. It features the company’s most efficient tilt assist system that reduces lift effort to 25 lbs. Supports that direct energy around the cooling module are also incorporated into the hood pivot system and are designed to minimize damage in the event of certain types of accidents – such as impact with an animal – to help allow the operator to drive the truck to a safe location for repairs.

Underneath that smooth, aerodynamic exterior there is a tough skeleton. The cab structure is a new design that features greater strength and enhanced safety, according to Sproull. The 2.1 meter-wide, aluminum cab is intended to be strong, solid and lightweight.  Both cab and sleeper are tested to SAE and ECE crashworthiness standards.

The interior of the Model 579 “is designed around the driver,” he noted, “and when it is time to rest and relax, the [detachable] sleeper is loaded with practical luxuries including ample storage and an integrated entertainment center that can accommodate a 22-inch flat panel television.”

According to Sproull, the large entryway between the cab and sleeper has the roominess and accessibility that one expects from an integrated sleeper. However, as part of the Peterbilt Unibilt family, it is fully detachable for enhanced resale value and increased versatility in second- and third-life operations, he said.

Among the features of the 579’s sleeper are:

  • Wide use of LED lighting
  • Convenient pull-out workstation
  • Abundant side and rear wall cabinet storage
  • Wall-to-wall, 85-inch premium mattress
  • Liftable bunk for additional storage and service access to HVAC and audio components;
  • Optional mid-height refrigerator;
  • Optional mounting bracket for a 22-in. flat-panel television that includes an inverter, fourth battery and convenient duplex power outlets;
  • DVD / Video game console shelf with cable pass-through to the television and power
  • outlets; and
  • Oversized wardrobe closets

In the cab, the dash is constructed from a soft, durable material and has an integrated tray for convenient storage of often-used items. The main instrumentation panel, Sproull said, has easy-to-read gauges that are completely visible through the steering wheel, as is the color, 5-in. Driver Information Display which provides a new engine-rpm sweet-spot indicator to help drivers maximize fuel economy and the capability to display virtual gauges. The secondary gauge display area can accommodate six optional gauges or Peterbilt’s SmartNav driver infotainment center.

The standard steering column can be adjusted simultaneously for both tilt and telescoping through a column-mounted lever. Two new steering wheels are available – an 18-in., four-spoke, soft-touch Standard Wheel and the leather-wrapped Premium Wheel, with integrated audio and cruise control buttons.

The dash shell, kick panels and steering column shroud are made from molded-in-color parts to maintain cosmetic integrity and attractiveness. The Platinum-level interior includes a passenger-side work surface above the glove box for paperwork and other tasks. Sproull said two cab trim levels are available for the 579 – the Platinum with wood grain highlights throughout the cab and sleeper; and the Prestige, designed to provide an optimal balance between comfort and functionality. 

Electrical system integrity was also a key focus during the development of the 579. The result is an all-new system that includes innovative protection and routing design elements. Sproull explained. Additional electrical system enhancements include angled dress covers that reduce pin tension and provide additional protection to connections and routing troughs.  Sproull said the cab electrical and air connections, air intake filter, A/C service ports and fresh-air filter are mounted to the firewall for easy access.

“But perhaps the most innovative improvement to the electrical system are the new electric-over-air rocker switches that enable critical interlocks,” said Sproull. “Not only does this technology remove air plumbing from the dash, it ensures the correct operation settings of critical systems.”

“The Model 579 has a secure place in the legendary lineup of Peterbilt vehicles,” said Kozek. “It is a true cross-platform vehicle that will appeal to both the passion and sensibilities of a wide range of customers across numerous applications and market segments.

Fleet owners and drivers will have an opportunity to see the new model for themselves when the truck goes on its “Legend Continues Tour” beginning on April 24, 2012. It will stop at over 100 Peterbilt dealer locations across the United States and Canada throughout the year.

“The ‘Legend Continues Tour’ was designed to showcase the quality, performance and reliability of the new Model 579 and share the excitement about its launch with Peterbilt customers and dealers,”  Kozek. “The 579 represents the largest product investment in Peterbilt’s history, and this tour is an excellent opportunity to inform and educate the industry on its features, benefits and value.”

Peterbilt also announced the immediate availability of its Extended Day Cab feature for its complete lineup of medium-duty vehicles. Customers now have the option to expand the length of their day cab by an additional 10 inches and receive nearly 6 inches of added head room.

The Extended Day Cab is designed to increase the driver’s comfort and productivity.  Both the driver and passenger seat recline is doubled to 23 deg. and there are 4 in. of added space between the steering wheel and the seat. In addition, four cubic feet of built-in rear wall storage compartments have been added for equipment or paperwork.

The Extended Day Cab is available on Peterbilt’s entire medium duty product line, which spans Class 5 through Class 7 and includes the Models 348, 337, 330 and 325.

The Bendix ESP (Electronic Stability Program) full-stability system with Automatic Traction Control (ATC) also becomes standard in May 2012 on the majority of Peterbilt’s heavy-duty trucks and tractors, including the new 579.

The Bendix ESP full stability system is designed to work in conjunction with Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) to maintain vehicle stability and help mitigate rollovers, jackknifing and loss-of-control situations by selectively applying brakes when excessive wheel slip or a critical stability threshold is compromised.