Heavy-duty OEMs preview 2022 offerings

Nov. 9, 2021
What’s coming in the new year in Class 8s: More aerodynamics, emissions reduction, electric expansion, even more emphasis on ADAS, and wider available drivetrains.

Technology, technology and—lest we forget—technology is still all the buzz as the trucking industry heads into 2022, specifically further integration in heavy-duty trucks of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). Just a decade ago, the industry was considered way behind in technology.

But truck makers were quick to emphasize in several recent releases and interviews with FleetOwner that they didn’t want buyers and fleets to overlook advances in structural and mechanical components of their new vehicles: steering systems, aerodynamics, cab design, engines, corrosion resistance, and durability.

Truck makers that are raising the bar on fuel efficiency going into 2022 include International, with its just announced A26 engine, and Kenworth, with its next-gen T680 truck, which the company says is the most aerodynamic Class 8 in its history, with a high-tech design and an EPA SmartWay designation.

At Mack, perhaps the biggest splash this year was its introduction of a medium-duty MD Series, but the company said it is focusing going into 2022 on technology advances in ADAS, efficiency packages, and will start production on its LR Electric refuse model.

Volvo, too, had much to celebrate in 2021 with the production kickoff of its VNR Electric, which is available for order in the U.S. and Canada, and heads into the new year touting its own add-on technology, the Driver Display Activation feature to Remote Programming, standard on all Volvo trucks. Volvo right now also is emphasizing telematics and diesel engine fuel-efficiency enhancements.

Daimler’s Freightliner was on the forefront in 2021 of electric truck testing and usage with its eCascadias and eM2s and plans to continue to do so in the new year. Both are available for order, and production is set to start in 2022.

Another Daimler nameplate, Western Star, is fresh off the announcement of the newest addition to its vocational lineup, the 47X, a slightly smaller but versatile alternative to the upfit-friendly Western Star 49X that debuted a year ago.

Besides Freightliner’s and Volvo’s advancements in electrification, there is other movement with other EV and sustainable heavies going into 2022.

Kenworth continues to take orders on the zero-emission version of its T680, the new T680E, which joins medium-duty K270Es and K370Es in its “Driving to Zero Emissions” program.

Heavy-duty battery-electric manufacturer Nikola still is expected to deliver the first models of its Tre, a reimagined cabover for local-regional applications, to select customers in North America at the end of this year. In a shareholders meeting during October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk blamed industrywide parts and supply shortages for even more delays in production of its Semi—first shown all the way back in 2017—but estimated that Tesla’s EV heavy-duty truck won't start production before 2023.

On another sustainability front, Hyliion, not a maker of commercial trucks but a producer of electric powertrains for Class 8s, is coming into the market with its Hypertruck ERX, which is recharged by an onboard natural-gas generator to lower operating costs and emissions and improve performance. The powertrain can refill at any of the 700-plus commercial filling stations across North America and is compatible with many OEMs’ Class 8s. However, the Hypertruck ERX will launch in Peterbilt trucks first, Hyliion said in an Oct. 11 statement.

Fleet Maintenance Editor John Hitch contributed portions of this story.

About the Author

Scott Achelpohl | Managing Editor

I'm back to the trucking and transportation track of my career after some time away freelancing and working to cover the branches of the U.S. military, specifically the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Coast Guard. I'm a graduate of the University of Kansas and the William Allen White School of Journalism there with several years of experience inside and outside business-to-business journalism. I'm a wordsmith by nature, and I edit FleetOwner magazine and our website as well as report and write all kinds of news that affects trucking and transportation.

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