LOUISVILLE, KY. Navistar International Corp. plans to fine-tune its ongoing focus on the North American truck market to highlight the fuel-sipping capabilities of its trucks; an effort that will shift into high gear this summer with third-party controlled fuel economy tests involving its ProStar tractors against competitor models, said Jack Allen, president of the company’s North America Truck and Parts subsidiary.

“We’re developing new products like our MaxxForce 13 liter SCR [selective catalytic reduction] equipped engines with performance first – and the most important performance factor today is fuel economy,” he said during a press event here at the 2013 Mid America Trucking Show. “Our engineers are interested in pushing out trucks to the limit.”

Navistar showed off two initial production-builds of ProStartractors equipped with the new MaxxForce 13 SCR engine, with horsepower options ranging from 365 to 475 hp producing from 1,250 to 1,700 lb,-ft. of torque. Allen said Navistar expects to start broadly shipping ProStar trucks equipped with its new MaxxForce 13 to customers by the end of April.

“We believe the 13 liter engine is ideal for most fleet applications across the country in terms of power and fuel economy needs, for linehaul or regional operations” he said – noting that Navistar put its 13 liter engine through a “grueling” test cycle, with 28 field test vehicles racking up what will total nearly six million miles of operation across a diverse range of climates, altitudes and conditions by the time the engine is “officially” launched in April.

Allen added that Navistar has shipped to-date 1,100 ProStar tractors spec’d with Cummins ISX 15 liter SCR-equipped engines since December last year and pointed out that both companies expect big things from their renewed collaboration. “Back in 2008 we delivered 13,000 to 14,000 trucks equipped with Cummins engines,” Allen noted. “So we have high expectations where this combination is concerned.”

He also pointed out a special “Project Horizon” demonstration truck crafted by Navistar and brought to the Mid America show to highlight what he called “near term” possibilities in terms of making the OEM’s vehicles more efficient and driver-friendly.

“This is not a ‘way out there’ vehicle,” Allen said. “This is a ‘near term’ demonstration project, with the things you’ll see on this vehicle reaching the market 24 to 36 months from now.”

On another front, Troy Clarke, Navistar’s president and COO, noted that the turnaround effort launched by the company last year is going well, with its cash balance, for example, well ahead of its expectations.

“It’s not the end of our journey; it’s just the beginning,” he stressed. “But it shows we’re making progress.”