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TRUCKING IN AMERICA | North American Commercial Vehicle Show

Chris Mullett reports from the North American Commercial Vehicle Show.

The North American Commercial Vehicle Show (NACV) fired up the rhetoric in Atlanta, Georgia as the major US manufacturers gathered for what is now the leading trucking event in the bi-annual calendar.

Taking over from the Mid America Truck Show (MATS), that still takes place annually in Louisville, Kentucky, it’s a sign of the times that the leading original equipment manufacturers don’t want the hassle of presenting their latest and greatest products every 12 months. This US event is orchestrated to play on opposing years to the major European trucking show, the IAA in Hanover, Germany, meaning that the global parents can concentrate on their business without duplicating shows each year.

Whereas the Louisville event catered for owner/drivers and fleets of all sizes, the Atlanta show is very much tailored to major fleets and their management teams, with technical and educational workshop presentations running during the show to highlight better business practices.

The Atlanta World Congress Centre venue is undoubtedly able to cope with any plans for future expansion, featuring a modern, huge exhibit space. With this year being the second show since its inception, it has the tick of approval from the exhibitors. Unfortunately, it has not attempted to showcase the industry to trucking enthusiasts and with high admission costs of around $1500 per ticket, per person, it will be under pressure to deliver tangible benefits for those that do make it through the doors.

The location does have its concerns, with Atlanta being one of the top 50 of America’s most dangerous cities and providing the daunting statistic that while attending the show visitors have to consider the fact they stand a one in 16 chance of being a victim of assault or property crime during their stay. This is not a city where a casual evening stroll is recommended – in fact, it pays to have an Uber account and use that service on a door to door basis wherever you want to go.

In 2019 the crime rate for Atlanta is expected to be lower than a previous peak in 2016, when violet crime rate was 172.9 percent higher than the national average. In addition, the city property crime rate is  higher by 114.7 percent. Incidentally, the murder rate in Atlanta is 17.7 per 100,000 people, from a population of just 500,000, making Australia look like an extremely safe haven.

But back to the show, and this year all the truck makers set a positive tone for the industry, confirming the generally strong economy with truck tonnage at record highs and good levels of consumer confidence.

Class 8 sales for 2019 in the US and Canada are expected to be the second highest in history at 310,000 – 320,00 units, with forward estimates that the Class 8 market for US and Canada in 2020 will decline to peak around 230,000 – 260,000. The Class 6 market for 2019 in the US and Canada is running this year at 105,000 sales, with a forecast at 90,000-110,000 in 2020.

The PACCAR brands of Kenworth and Peterbilt had already released their updated products earlier during this year, with Kenworth particularly focussed on the launch of the W990 which was hailed as the ‘Driver’s Reward’ truck. This set an impressive level of appeal for owners and drivers to personalise their truck by adding a wide range of over 80 chrome accessories and options.

For the vocational market the T880, which replaced the T800, is available with the full in-house driveline of the PACCAR automated manual transmission (AMT) and drive axles, matched to the PACCAR MX engine. The MX engine was launched in the US in 2010, followed by PACCAR drive axles added in 2017, with the PACCAR AMT in 2018 and this in-house driveline now fills 50 percent of vehicle orders.

Staying in the PACCAR family and Peterbilt echoed much of what had been said at the Kenworth media conference, especially in relation to the size of the market for 2019 and the forward estimates for 2020.

The PACCAR NACV display tended to focus on battery electric, fuel cell electric and hydrogen technologies, some of which are in conjunction with Toyota, with the aim of showing its zero emissions technologies.

Peterbilt currently has 16 trucks out in the field in its electric vehicle line-up, collecting real world data in terms of operating environmentally-friendly solutions. These will be joined by a further 21 trucks going into service in the first half of 2020, with low volume production commencing at the end of 2020.

Peterbilt’s 579EV uses a TransPower energy storage subsystem with a total storage capacity of 264 kWh. It is driven by a Meritor Blue-Horizon mid-ship motor drive sub-system with up to 430 hp, features a range of 200 kms and has a charging time of one- hour with a fast charging system.

In early October, Frito Lay, a division of Pepsico, took delivery of a Peterbilt 220EV as part of an internal programme to reduce emissions for its freight equipment by 20 percent by 2030. This zero-emissions 220EV is powered by two TransPower battery packs with a storage capacity of 148 kWh, and a Meritor Blue-Horizon two-speed drive e-axle with up to 335 hp. It features a range of 160 km with a fast recharge time as low as one hour.

As an ideal vehicle for the refuse industry, Peterbilt’s 520EV again uses a TransPower Energy Storage Subsystem with up to 430 hp, features a range of 160 km and has a recharge time of four hours.

Kenworth and Toyota Motor North America are collaborating to develop ten zero-emission Kenworth T680s powered by Toyota hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains.

The effort is part of a $41 million Zero and Near-Zero Emissions Freight Facilities (ZANZEFF) grant awarded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB), with the Port of Los Angeles as the prime applicant. CARB has awarded those funds to the Port of Los Angeles for the ZANZEFF project as part of California Climate Investments, a California initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities.

“The Port of Los Angeles, Kenworth, Toyota and Shell are working together to foster the development of hydrogen fuel cell electric technology in Class 8 trucks, producing water as the only emissions by-product, while meeting or exceeding diesel truck performance,” said Kevin Baney, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president.

“The Kenworth T680 on-highway flagship offers superior fuel efficiency, performance and comfort, and serves as an excellent foundation to develop the hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrain,” he added.

Kenworth chief engineer, Patrick Dean said Kenworth provides the T680 chassis and cab, motors, transmission, and cooling systems, and delivers overall FCEV integration. Toyota provides fuel cell stacks, hydrogen tanks, load balancing batteries, and other components necessary to deliver the high voltage to the motors, in addition to the controls for that power.

Kenworth and Peterbilt both announced the option of running software upgrades over the air through their respective data portals to vehicles out on the road. These data portals are standard on every Class 8 truck. The software upgrade can be applied out in the field, provided the truck parks up during the data-transfer process, saving the time and inconvenience of having to visit a local dealership.

With the scale of preference for in-house driveline solutions expanding, Peterbilt has extended the availability of the 12-speed PACCAR transmission for use now in vocational applications. It’s available with either the PACCAR MX-11 or MX-13 engines, with ratings of up to 510hp and 1850 lbs ft (2508 Nm) of torque.

The Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system offered throughout the PACCAR line-up as well as though the MACK and Volvo Truck product range has additional features this year, including highway departure braking, which applies the foundation braking system to reduce vehicle speeds to 32 km/h if the system determines the vehicle has left the roadway unintentionally.

Multi-lane emergency braking can help the driver mitigate both the first, and potentially the second crash situation when one or more highway lanes are blocked. Once a collision mitigation event begins and the driver steers into an adjacent lane to avoid the forward vehicle, the new multi-lane AEB feature continues to apply the brakes – if needed – when it detects another vehicle blocking the path in the new traffic lane.

This seems to be the year for onward development of over-the-air telematic upgrades to engine and transmission software programmes, with all major manufacturers now offering these solutions. All upgrades can be completed without heading into a service port but do require the vehicles to be stationary while the upgrade is taking place.

MACK Trucks was particularly upbeat about the industry and continues to remain involved in producing iconic examples of specific models. This year it was the turn of the Mack Anthem with a 70-inch stand-up sleeper model with a 6×2 liftable pusher axle to receive a totally black treatment, where even the Bulldog on the bonnet changed from chrome or gold to sport a shiny black coat.

This 500 vehicle Limited Edition MACK Black Anthem does result from a lot of work behind the scenes, with a black exterior trim and grille, Alcoa Durablack wheel rims, black steps and deck plates, taillight surrounds and mudflap brackets. The steering wheel acquired black spokes while the instrument panel also gets the black treatment for gauge bezels with black wood accents. There’s also a special upgrade for seating and interior trim panels.

Fuel economy of course is the guiding factor and the common spec’ for MACK buyers is becoming a package comprising the 13-litre, MP8HE plus mDRIVE and aero enhancements that collectively provide up to 10 percent improved fuel efficiency.

Volvo Trucks North America introduced the new VNR 660 model at NACV 2019, expanding its appeal for regional haul applications. For Australian visitors it’s obviously interesting to see bonneted versions of what we know as a cabover, even if the overall dimensions are somewhat bizarre in enabling the prime mover to be of any length, when all the restrictions apply to the trailers.

Peter Voorhoeve, moved from his role as President of Volvo Group Australia to head up North American operations and in an exclusive interview with PowerTorque it’s obvious that he is thoroughly enjoying the challenges that come with the job.

Announcing the release of the new VNR 660, Peter explained how it addresses the needs of regional-haul customers looking for ways to increase payloads by decreasing the weight of the vehicle and enabling the use of longer trailer sizes without sacrificing efficiency.

“As an extension of the Volvo VNR product line, the new Volvo VNR 660 combines a high-roof configuration with a 61-inch sleeper that will comfortably accommodate an extra person for an overnight stop, making it ideal for local and regional routes that use team drivers. There is ample room for a refrigerator, microwave and television with storage above the driver and passenger seats.”

The company also announced reaching over 200,000 connected vehicles in North America, part of one million connected vehicles in Volvo Group worldwide.

Daimler Trucks North America was particularly upbeat with the release of the latest Freightliner Cascadia enhanced with additional aerodynamic and powertrain improvements to deliver up to a five percent fuel efficiency gain over the previous model. It is the first truck in series production in North America to offer SAE level 2 automation when equipped with the full Detroit Assurance 5.0 suite of safety systems.

These include Active Brake Assist 5.0 with full braking for moving pedestrians, Adaptive Cruise Control to zero kilometres per hour, and Lane Keep Assist enable the first SAE Level 2 automated driving experience for heavy-duty trucks.

Side Guard Assist with full-trailer sweep is currently the industry’s only aid of its kind, Side Guard Assist uses a robust sensor array to alert the driver to the presence of vehicles, stationary objects, or pedestrians alongside both truck and entire length of the trailer when the driver attempts to make a lane change or right-hand turn, maximizing safety in both receiving yards and urban driving situations.

The next generation heavy-duty Detroit DD15 Gen 5 engine (available 2021) boosts fuel economy and lowers CO2 emissions for the Class 8 market – a win for real cost of ownership and a win for the climate. That’s not to say that Australia will be seeing these upgrades to the DD15, as the launch of the New Cascadia into our market will run with the DD13 and DD16 engines, matched to the DT12 automated manual transmission which now achieves an order take-up of over 90 percent.

The financial sector is usually one of the most boring to deal with, especially at truck shows, but at Atlanta the release of the Dynamic Lease Programme from Daimler Truck Financial (DTF) really was worthy of sitting up and taking notice of the features and benefits.

“The North American Commercial Vehicle Show is the ideal venue to showcase the latest solutions for our customers,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America as he announced an all-new and unique telematics-based solution for vehicle financing.

The Dynamic Lease created by DTF and powered by the Detroit Connect Platform enables pay-as-you-drive financing to match lease payments to billable kilometres.

This revolutionary telematics-based financing option is powered by the embedded Detroit Connect Platform and debuts on the market-leading Cascadia spec’d with Detroit engines. The Dynamic Lease will be available in late Q1 2020 and will empower customers to better manage cash flow by aligning billable kilometres to the lease payment, placing them firmly in the driver’s seat for the road ahead.

Western Star had less to shout about at NACV, with its replacement model to match the new Cascadia still being over a year out from release into the market.

As an indication of what lies ahead in terms of styling and design, in collaboration with the ArtCenter College of Design in Los Angeles, Western Star put young, aspiring design students to design the trucks of the future.

Examples of the students’ designs were on display and included models of a snow plough that vaporizes snow, a concrete truck with a forward-facing chute, a dump truck with see-through A-pillars and many more creative and unique solutions to enhance driver and product safety.

Over at Navistar International things were particularly upbeat, especially with the European heads of TRATON Group being on US soil to spruik the big picture.

There’s been talk since the last IAA Show in Hanover in 2018 that International was considering the LT as a natural replacement for the current Prostar in the Australian market.

Troy Clarke, the CEO and President of Navistar International, was at that time extremely enthusiastic, stating:

“This is an even better truck than ProStar and gives us much better opportunities. We can put in the right-hand drive option much more easily, with the design enabling us to move the engine back and have a much larger pedal area so we don’t compromise anything for the driver,” said Mr. Clarke.

“It’s our intention to be a major competitor to Cascadia. We haven’t made an announcement yet and don’t have a date yet. We’ll let the market figure out how we go,” he added.

Fast forward from that interview at the IAA Hanover in 2018 to an exclusive interview with Troy Clarke at this year’s NACV Show in Atlanta, Georgia, and there’s a possibility of further change that could substantially alter the course of the International brand in the Australian market.

The move to release Scania heavy-duty, off highway NTG models developed for the mining industry into the Canadian market is a complete change from standard North American trucking operations.

This is Scania’s first foray into the Canadian mining industry and it’s based on the Scania G500 8x4HZ mining truck. Powered by Scania’s DC13 155 engine with 500hp (372 kW) and 2550  Nm of torque, linked to a 14-speed Opticruise automated manual transmission, it features parabolic springs front and rear and a GVWR of 57,878 kgs.

It shows the first sign of TRATON Group considering the synergies available globally and linking the different divisions into finding transport solutions in countries and markets that were not previously available.

Navistar has signed an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Scania to explore bringing Scania’s unique mining solutions to Canadian customers and to develop specific vehicles for the North American and Canadian mining industries. This understanding also covers the options of developing autonomous trucks in the mining industry.

For remote area operation the service and maintenance solution is to introduce re-locatable modular service locations. These are similar to a pop-up service dealership with a full-service workshop created from what could best be described as a series of pre-equipped containers, staffed by factory qualified professionals.

Remote monitoring systems and telematic linking of fleets, with both prime movers and trailers of differing makes all linked together is a feature of Navistar’s ‘International 360’ telematics solutions, combining six different platforms into one cohesive database.

With current distribution and representation of the International brand handled in Australia by IVECO Trucks, down the track there may be a fork in the road that entices International to merge with the Scania Australia network, offering a conventional truck in the form of the LT, to complement the cabover range of Scania. Similarly, there may also be further benefits to brand members of the TRATON Group by working more closely with Penske Commercial Vehicles, distributors of the MAN brand, although that might compromise that group’s existing relationships with Western Star.

There is certainly a future available for International Trucks in the Australian market, based on the introduction of the LT model range, replacing the current ProStar.

PowerTorque discussed the ongoing option of introducing the LT model range to the Australian market with Troy Clarke, who made this comment.

“We’ve kind of pushed the pause button there as with Prostar we have only really sold a handful. Before we decide to push the button to go on the LT we are stepping back. Are we doing it right, can we really satisfy a segment there? Is there really a market there? We’ve had several meetings recently to decide if we need to do some things to make the product right for the market,” said Mr. Clarke.

“I think we have a great product and it would be cool to do some good business, but we have not been able to do anything in volume. The studies show that International is the second-best known truck brand in the world, it would be a shame not to use that,” Mr. Clarke added.

In the meantime, Navistar has launched a new business unit, NEXT eMobility Solutions, to deliver customized electrification solutions in the truck and school bus markets.

“Companies interested in operating electric trucks have more questions than answers; they are looking for a partner who also brings clarity,” said Persio Lisboa, Navistar executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer.

Vehicles developed by NEXT will be offered under the International Truck and IC Bus nameplates and will be sold and supported by International Truck and IC Bus dealers, respectively.

Using NEXT as a catalyst for implementation, Navistar plans to have IC Bus electric school buses available at the end of 2020, while International medium-duty electric trucks will be introduced in early 2021.

The NEXT team exhibited a prototype electric version of the International MV Series medium-duty vehicle, the eMV, at the NACV 2019, with the concept based on the production version of the diesel-powered International MV Series.

The truck features a redesigned aerodynamic hood for superior visibility and is powered by an electric motor with peak power of over 474 kW—or 645 HP—allowing it to be able to pull any load required.  The continuous power is 300 kW, or more than 400 HP, which is available at all times. The system, exclusive to Navistar, enables peak efficiency across the entire operating range.

The vehicle was designed to accommodate multiple battery capacity options that range from 107 to 321 kilowatt hours.  Navistar believes customers operating a truck with a 321 kWh battery in typical pickup and delivery cycles should expect to be able to travel up to 250 miles on a single charge.

If there’s one conclusion to be drawn about the future of International Trucks it’s that from 2020 onwards the International brand has gained considerable reserves on which it can now draw, all thanks to the TRATON Group. Total Cost of Operation is not just a catch cry for operators. It’s equally relevant to manufacturers, and the more shared technology and group buying benefits that become available, the greater the future of potential of each individual group member.

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