Yountville, Ca.  Freightliner’s 2014 Cascadia Evolution, announced in May, got its first public showing at a ride and drive event for the press that also marked the official launch of Daimler Truck’s new automated mechanical transmission, the Detroit DT12. 

Scheduled to start limited production early next year, the truck is powered by a new version of the proprietary Detroit DD15 engine that joins the new transmission and proprietary Detroit drive axles for a completely integrated Daimler powertrain. Benefits include substantially better fuel economy and performance by allowing full communications between those components and their control units, according to Freightliner officials.

For example, the DT12 can automatically allow the truck to coast when coming off even a slight rise. In a coast-to-coast test run earlier this year, one Evolution model coasted over 650 mi. during the trip, which contributed to an overall fuel economy average over 9 mpg.

Other advanced features of the new Detroit transmission include smoothing out torque inputs to protect the driveline, a choice between economy and performance driving characteristics, predictive and smart cruise control, a creep mode for slow speed maneuvering in forward or reverse, and sensors that can tell whether to apply strong or gradual engine braking depending on conditions and driver inputs.

A two-pedal AMT, the DD12 also features a pneumatic clutch and shift actuator for fast shifts, and helical gearing for quiet operation, according to Brad Williamson, marketing manager for powetrains.

A high-torque capacity version for use with the DD15 will start production next May, with a smaller, lighter version for the DD13 following later in the year. All versions will come with a 5-yr./750,000-mi. warranty and will be equipped with Freightliner’s Virtual Technician onboard diagnostics system.

Freightliner also announced that is launching an interactive community for independent owner-operators and small fleets. Called Team Run Smart (www.teamrunsmart.com), it is intended to give drivers online tools addressing maintenance, fuel, business and health issues, as well as providing a social media forum for them. Blogs from working drivers will also be featured.

Team Run Smart will be accessible through a dedicated website, a mobile website and dedicated pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, according to David Hames, general manager, product marketing and strategy for Freightliner Trucks.