Much like mass-market light trucks and automobiles, the heavy-truck sector is increasing its focus on fuel efficiency and technology, squeezed by the double threat of rising fuel prices and an increase in government regulation. But rather than painting a gloomy picture of the heavy-truck market's future, the new products and technologies unveiled at the 2012 Mid-America Trucking Show indicate an unprecedented level of technical innovation in the market. The changes encompass everything from communication integration for expedited load pickups to new cab configurations adapting to the changing demographics of the industry. We rounded up some of the most significant new trucks and products at the show.
The biggest news was the debut of two new production trucks from Kenworth and Peterbilt and a particularly eye-catching concept from Freightliner. The Kenworth T680 is billed as the brand's most aerodynamic cab ever, with an integrated, sculpted full-height roof to optimize airflow over the cab and trailer, extensive use of aluminum and plastic composites in the body, and energy-efficient LED lighting throughout. Peterbilt also introduced the new 579, which likewise emphasizes aerodynamic efficiency and advanced materials in the quest for efficiency.
Freightliner showed its futuristic Revolution Innovation concept truck, which optimizes the design of the cab around the increasing trend of solo drivers, giving the comfort and convenience of a sleeper cab in a more compact package than a traditional sleeper cab.
The eye-catcher of the show was Freightliner's futuristic Revolution Innovation truck. Breaking the mold of conventional truck design, the Revolution Innovation forsakes a passenger-side door for an access door at the back of the cab, and a unique cab design optimized for solo drivers. More than just a pretty face, the Revolution Innovation is a fully functional truck, and will be appearing at truck trade shows across the U.S. and Canada in the months ahead.
Navistar introduced a new line of LoadStar cab-over severe-duty work trucks designed for use in the solid-waste, concrete-pumping, and aircraft-refueling markets, among others. The cabin features a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, 10 inches of fore/aft adjustment and 6.5 inches of vertical seat travel adjustment, and a 90-degree door opening with an 18-inch step-in height. The cab is made of stainless steel for strength and corrosion resistance.
Cummins announced development of a 15-liter natural gas engine to begin production in 2014. The company showed its 12-liter ISX12G natural-gas engine to begin production in 2013, and said its 2013 lineup of diesel engines will meet 2014 government fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards a year early.
Not to be outdone by its corporate cousin (Peterbilt and Kenworth are both part of the PACCAR corporate portfolio), Peterbilt unveiled the 579, which likewise focuses on efficiency with an aerodynamic, one-piece panoramic windshield; a lightweight aluminum cab; and technological integration with the SmartNav multifunction screen. Peterbilt also showed off a "tech truck" concept based on its 587 model, and a new extended day cab on its 382 model.
One of the biggest stars of the show was the Kenworth T680. The truck features an aerodynamically sculpted design with state-of-the-art cabin tech integration and a generous sleeper cab for class-leading comfort, efficiency, and convenience.