International Truck and Engine Corp. unveiled its new Class 8 LoneStar to a crowd of International dealers and members of the press yesterday as the Chicago Auto Show prepared to open. According to the company, the LoneStar was developed to be the premium flagship model in International’s truck line, delivering the fuel economy of aero models plus the comfort, customization and classic chromed looks of the long-nosed conventionals beloved by drivers for decades. “This is a modern interpretation of what ‘classic’ is,” said David Allendorph, International chief designer. “It is a product that is all about being authentic.”
The new truck, which will be available beginning in April, is expected to be 5% to 15% more fuel efficient than other classic models, the company said. It features ABS as standard, roll stability, traction control, Bluetooth integration for hands-free phone use, and an automotive-styled dash and gauges with a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Although the front axle has been moved forward, it has a 50-degree wheel cut. The low, chromed front bumper is one piece of vacuum-formed aluminum.
The interior was designed to provide a clear delineation between the working space of the cockpit and the living space of the sleeper, according to Dr. Lenora Hardee, chief engineer, human factors and ergonomics for International. The wood flooring of the sleeper area serves to provide a visual and emotional line between the two areas, she explained.
Driver and passenger seats both swivel, cabinets are closed “airline style” to make it easier to maintain a clean, uncluttered living space, and the pull-down bed converts to a contemporary looking curved couch with back pillows, Hardee added. The Lonestar also includes workspaces with plug-ins for laptops plus a mini refrigerator and a Monsoon stereo system.
The company feels the list of some 42 factory-available options for customizing the truck will really appeal to drivers who are looking for a vehicle they can make their own. These include an array of lighting options, mag wheels and a “Latto Flex” mattress originally designed for the medical industry to further dampen road vibrations for driving teams.
The new model, which International said made it to market in a record-breaking 24 months, progressed directly from math and clay models to production, without any of the customary developmental prototypes. The company sees this new process as the way of the future and the new chassis as game changer for the marketplace.
“Our engineering team felt confident that we could develop this truck without spending months in prototyping,” said Tom Baughman, vp and general manager, International Heavy Truck Vehicle Center. “We knew we had a winning truck and we wanted to make it available to our customers as soon as it could be ready.”
International sees a dual market for the new LoneStar that includes fleets as well as owner-operators. “Sixty-three percent of classic registrations are to fleets with 26 or more trucks,” explained Steve Gilligan, assistant gm, International Heavy Truck Vehicle Center. “Small fleets buy 13% of the classic trucks. With the LoneStar, we really believe we are blurring the traditional lines.”