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W990 Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner
The W990 just off Interstate 15 in Las Vegas during a ride-and-drive event.

For design director, developing the Kenworth W990 a balance of emotions

LAS VEGAS - When Jonathan Duncan, director of design for Kenworth Trucks, and his team set out to create the next generation of the W900, he said they were facing “more emotional than functional details.”

Since its debut in 1961, the W900 had bas been a vehicle that “makes other truckers stare and nod their heads in appreciation,” he said.

Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth's design director, shares the features of the W990 during an event at the Las Vegas Speedway.

After working on the project for more than two years, the new W990 was unveiled Sept. 27 at the Las Vegas Speedway during an event for fleet and dealer representatives.  

“The Kenworth W990 represents the pride, image and freedom of trucking, and captures the spirit of what trucking is all about,” said Mike Dozier, general manager of Kenworth.

Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

The cab of the W990 is based off the T680, offering drivers more space over the W900.

The following morning, during a ride-and-drive event for journalists at the nearby Kenworth Sales Las Vegas dealership, Duncan said every step of the process focused maintaining the “wow factor” from the W900, while trying to improve it.

“Balancing the legacy with true innovation was really rewarding for our design team,” Duncan said. 

Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

The grill is the face of the W990, Kenworth design director Jonathan Duncan says.

He called the grill the “face of the new W990” and discussed how the hood complements the stainless steel air intakes. 

The bumper-to-back measures 131.5-inches - 1.5 inches longer than the existing W900L.

The cab is based on the T680 and T880, so there are eight more inches between the seats, making it easier to move around the cab. The mirrors were lowered for better visibility and the bolt-on fender makes it easier to get on and off. 

Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Full production of the W990 will officially begin in January.

Kurt Swihart, Kenworth’s marketing director, said the W990 is viewed by many fleets as an important component of their driver recruiting and retention programs. 

He called it a “reward truck,” with an exterior that displays pride and small details on the inside that drivers appreciate.


Photo: Neil Abt/Fleet Owner

Mike Dozier, Kenworth's general manager, talks about the long history of the W990 ahead of the W990 unveiling.

That feeling was shared by Kyle Cousins, vice president of operations of Fleetnor Bros., who was on hand to take the keys to one of the first W990s. 

“A well-spec’d long-hood conventional stands out in a crowd,” he said. “The big hoods get you noticed; and customers, as well as our, drivers love them. I know it’s helped in our recruiting and retention.”  

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