Kenworth mid-roof sleeper heads to production

Smaller MX engine coming next year

A new model for its popular heavy-duty aerodynamic tractors and a new diesel are on the way from Kenworth Truck Co. as the company extends a string of rapid product releases over the last few months that include new equipment technologies such as predictive cruise control and an ultracapacitor starting module.

Introduced in 2012, the Kenworth T680 and T880 now account for 75% of the company’s heavy-duty truck production, according to Preston Feight, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR VP.  Next month, the company will start production of 76-in. mid-roof sleeper models intended for tanker and flatbed applications. The new model was initially announced at the Mid-America Trucking Show in March, and the company began taking orders for it in June.

The lower roof will cut 50 to 100 lbs. and also offer a 3% to 5% fuel economy improvement from aerodynamics optimized for those applications, according to chief engineer Kevin Baney.  The new mid-roof sleeper will also be available with an optional upper bunk, he said, adding that the inital Sept. build is already sold out.  Current configurations for the on-highway T680 include a 76-in high-roof sleeper, 52-in. regional sleeper and day cab.  The vocational T880 has similar cab options, less the high-roof model.  

The proprietary PACCAR MX-13 is currently being installed in 40% of the trucks Kenworth builds, and the company has just delivered its 50,000th in a T680 built for UPS.  Although full details aren’t yet available, a second engine – the MX-11 -- will join the proprietary PACCAR engine series in the U.S. and Canada in the first quarter of 2016, according to Feight.

Earlier this month, Kenworth began building both T680s and T880s with optional predictive cruise control and the ultracapacitor-based Maxwell Engine Start Module.  

The predictive cruise is able to anticipate road terrain to modulate engine speed for optimum fuel economy. It’s available in both the T680 and T880 when powered by the MX-13.  Trucks speced with the Eaton Ultrashift automated mechanical transmission get an added fuel-saving feature that when appropriate automatically shifts the transmission into neutral on downhills.

The new starting module offers dedicated starting power from a single ultracapacitor, allowing the truck’s standard batteries to be dedicated to powering accessories.  The company says the module will start engines in temperatures from -40F to 149F even if the standard batteries have low voltage.  The module can also be paired with a new 1,800-wat inverter option that provides AC power for hotel loads and can be used to recharge a truck plugged into shore power.

In July the company added Kenworth TruckTech+, a remote diagnostics system to its heavy-duty trucks. The system diagnoses equipment problems, sending recommended solutions to both drivers and fleet managers. It can also schedule emergency repairs at nearby dealer locations and post all data and repair progress reports to a web portal for review by fleet managers.  Developing the system, the focus was on ease of use and a seamless process for addressing problems, according to Baney.  All new KW’s with MX-13 engines come with a 2-yr. complimentary subscription to the new service.

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