Truck Makers Promote Better Mileage and Better Rides in 2012

The four major truck manufacturers have unveiled their 2013 models. Volvo, Peterbilt, Kenworth and International have all made significant improvements to their trucks to improve fuel mileage and driver comfort. Aerodynamic improvements for better mileage are the major change in the new models for all four companies.

Both Kenworth and International have created completely redesigned models with fuel efficiency and comfort in mind. The Kenworth T680 is the latest model in their popular T600 line. Aerodynamic improvements include rounded mirror cowls and inset headlights to create a more aerodynamic line. Wipers are also set just below the hood line to decrease wind resistance. The redesigned windshield is bigger and is angled. Kenworth estimates the changes will translate into a 5% increase in fuel economy, or $4000 per truck per year.

The T680 has great head room and two feet clearance between the seats for ease of movement within the cab. The cab has been fully integrated with the sleeper to increase driver comfort.

International has also made aerodynamic changes to the size and slope of their windshields, hoods and body parts to decrease drag. Both the LoneStar and new LoadStar models feature large windshields and increased cab insulation. The LoneStar nose has been lengthened a bit but still sports the distinctive hood and grille.

International’s unique front and rear suspensions, which are cushioned by air, allow for a smoother, more comfortable ride. LoadStar will be available to order with a compressed natural gas engine in October.

Volvo has made similar design changes to the 2013 VN and VHD lines to improve fuel efficiency. The lines of its cabs are more angled and curved to help save drivers money on fuel. Headlights are redesigned and inset to decrease wind resistance. Since Volvo trucks are welded rather than riveted, they have lower wind resistance than other manufacturers. With their short wheel base, there is less space between the cab and trailer to catch air.

One big change in the Volvo line is the introduction of their Remote Diagnostics Aftermarket Service. With this service, problems and breakdowns can be diagnosed remotely.

Using Computational Fluid Dynamics testing, Peterbilt has created sloped exterior surfaces that help with fuel costs. Like the other manufacturers, the company has also improved headlight placement and functionality to improve performance and provide a safer driving experience.

The introduction of the SMARTNAV system in some models is sure to increase driver comfort. The system has a 7” touch screen and multiple functions. Entertainment and navigational tools are combined in one simple to use system. Included are vehicle monitoring sensors and a Garmin navigational program. SMARTNAV also includes hands-free Bluetooth, satellite radio and ports for MP3, USB and IPod functions.

Peterbilt is also offering Class 7 Model 330 and 335 hybrid electric medium duty trucks in limited quantities. This unit delivers 30-50% increased fuel efficiency over a conventional truck.

All four manufacturers are very well aware of the increasing toll rising fuel costs are taking on drivers, and all have strived to improve mileage. Improved aerodynamics is the common theme among all the manufacturers, but they haven’t neglected improvements to safety and comfort, either.

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