Freightliner unveils new on-highway truck

Avery Vise | Commercial Carrier Journal

Freightliner Trucks on Wednesday, May 2, revealed the Cascadia, a new Class 8 on-highway tractor that goes into production in August. The Cascadia, which will replace the current Columbia and Century Class trucks in 2010, offers a 3 percent improvement in fuel economy over previous models and was designed to accommodate DaimlerChrysler’s new global heavy-duty engine platform, the Portland, Ore.-based truck maker says. Detroit Diesel will launch the new platform — designed to meet 2010 U.S. environmental regulations — late this year.

“Our customers are faced with the consequences of ever-tightening emissions standards, higher fuel prices, rapidly escalating wages and benefits, and a dire shortage of maintenance technicians,” said Freightliner LLC President and CEO Chris Patterson in announcing the new truck.

In addition to improved fuel economy, the Cascadia addresses these concerns through improved serviceability to reduce vehicle downtime and improved cab comfort and ergonomics to help fleets attract and retain drivers, Patterson said.

To achieve the improvements in fuel economy, the more than 1 million engineering hours included 2,500 hours in Freightliner’s full-scale wind tunnel. “Our wind tunnel was constructed expressly for this kind of new model development,” Patterson said. “Apparently tiny tweaks in the design made possible by our unlimited use of our own facility can save owners hundreds of dollars in fuel consumption over the life of their truck.”

In addition to aerodynamics, fuel-saving features of the Cascadia include an integrated battery-powered auxiliary HVAC system and an engine cooling system that minimizes engine fan and air-conditioning compressor on-time.

Serviceability features include improved diagnostics, an HVAC system designed to reduce repair frequency, breakaway side extenders, a roped-in windshield that can be changed in minutes, extended-life headlamp bulbs and easier access to engine and accessory components, Freightliner says.

Cab design followed extensive research into driver wants and needs, Freightliner says. The Cascadia features double door and window seals, improved engine and cab mounts, additional insulation and a hydraulic clutch to reduce vibration and road noise. It also offers larger seats, larger door openings for easy entry and egress, more head and belly room, and easier-to-use switches and climate controls, the truck maker adds. Freightliner’s rack and pinion steering system is intended to improve durability through lower system pressure and temperature and to provide quicker steering response and reduced steering effort.

Cascadia specs include:

  • GVWRs of 35,000 to 71,000 lbs. with a GCWR of 92,000 lbs.;
  • Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine, 455 hp is standard; an MBE 4000 with ratings of 370 to 450 hp and Caterpillar C15 with ratings of 435 to 550 hp are available;
  • EatonFuller manual transmission is standard; UltraShift and AutoShift transmissions are available;
  • Standard front taperleaf suspension rated at 12,000 lbs.; optional spring suspension rated at 14,600 lbs.; and
  • Standard rear AirLiner suspension rated at 40,000 lbs.; optional AirLiner suspension rated at 21,000 lbs.Freightliner launched the Cascadia in grand fashion Wednesday, May 2, at a press event in Charlotte, N.C.