KIRKLAND, WA. Characterizing the 2016 economic climate as “a good year overall though off slightly from last year,” Kenworth Truck general manager Mike Dozier nevertheless sees U.S.and Canada retail Class 8 sales falling off from an initial forecast set at a range of 260,000 to 280,00. Given softer than expected sales in the first half, that forecast is now down in the range of 220,000 to 240,000, he said during a press conference at company headquarters.
Coming off 2015’s exceptionally strong sales, the average age of the U.S. heavy truck fleet is at it’s lowest in years, so combined with sluggish economic growth and softer freight demand, the downturn in truck sales wasn’t a surprise. “We’ve been making adjustments in manufacturing capacity since the end of 2015,” Dozier said.
As for 2017 heavy-duty truck sales, “we think the market will hold at 2016 levels,” he said.
Turning to Kenworth performance, Dozier said the MX-13 and newly introduced MX-11 Paccar engines are now powering about 45% of Kenworth’s new trucks and that it’s T680 and T880 models now account for 80% of that build.
Separately Kenworth announced that it will sunset the older T660 at the end of the year with a final production run of 500 units. The T660 was introduced in 2007 as a replacement for the original aerodynamic heavy-duty tractor, the KW T600. Over 60,000 have been produced in the last nine years, according to Jason Skoog, assistant GM for sales and marketing.
“This final [production run] will give customers one final chance to own a T660,” Skoog said.
The T660 is available as a day cab or in 38-inch, 62-inch, 72-inch and 86-in. sleeper configurations. Standard power is the MX-13 rated at 455-hp and 1,650 lb-ft of torque.
Other product news announced at the press event includes expansion of the T370 vocational model to include a “Baby 8” version with 46K-lb. rear axles and 385/65R22.5 steer tires. Applications for the heavier capacity T370 include dump, fuel tanker, utility crane and mixer.
The T680 lineup has also been expanded with an aerodynamic package for the day cab model. Combined with powertrain refinements, the Advantage package can improve fuel economy by up to 6% over non-Advantage day cabs, according to Kevin Baney, KW chief engineer. Aerodynamic features, adopted from Advantage sleeper configurations, include a front air dam, new roof cap seals and lower fairing extensions.
The optimized powertrain includes either the MX-13 or MX-11 engine, Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission and Meritor MT40-14X drive axles.
The T680 day cab is also serving as the platform for a near-zero-emissions drayage truck being developed by Kenworth. With three grants totaling $8.6 million from Federal and California clean air programs, the company will deliver a total of six hybrid diesel-electric versions of the T680. At least one will use a CNG engine to produce electric power and another a hydrogen fuel cell, both with an all-electric range of 30-mi. and both assigned to port drayage duties at Long Beach. Technical specs for the other four hybrid electrics aren’t finalized, but they will run in a Southern California customer field test, according to Kenworth.