NASHVILLE. Meritor is launching several new products this week at the TMC 2016 Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition, and hinting that’s there more—much more—to come.
“What you’re seeing right now is just the first step,” Chris Villavarayan, president, Americas for Meritor, told Fleet Owner as he pointed out the features of the Meritor Front Steer axle (MFS+).
The MFS+ saves up to 85 pounds from the current offering due to a new gooseneck beam design, and an offset knuckle with integrated torque plate and tie-rod arms. The new design also reduces space constraints for easier access by technicians. The MFS+ is designed for mounting each brake at “12-o’clock” for easy removal.
“The system’s low-profile design improves overall packaging to simplify integration into the chassis,” Villavarayan said. “The MFS+ also offers high-angle turning capacity up to 55 degrees and universal compatibility with braking systems.”
The new axle is available in standard and wide track and has a gross axle weight rating (GAWR) between 12,000 and 13,200 pounds.
“A lot of people talk about their performance in the axle space, but 7 out of 10 Class 8 trucks run on our axles today”—and that’s the company’s highest market penetration ever, going back to the Rockwell days and beyond, he said. “It just shows where you can get if you focus on something.”
The MFS+ represents more than hardware, however. Villavarayan outlined Meritor’s increasingly integrated product strategy.
Already in the works is a new, lighter brake, along with the addition of an integrated wheel-end, Villavarayan continued. And after launching two or three products a year in the recent past, that pace is set to double. A new, laser-welded rear axle, to be billed as the most efficient in the marketplace, is slated for this fall; he just tosses in a mention of the industry-leading driveline, standard on most truck makes.
Indeed, growth is at the heart of Meritor’s new 3-year strategic plan, which follows a successful post-recession recovery that focused on cost savings and a return to profitability, Villavarayan explained. New designs, materials, and production processes, in turn, will drive the new products to fuel that growth.
“Everyone’s a little concerned about where the market is going, but this is still going to be one of the best years in the last 40,” he said.
Still, Meritor is looking to make substantial gains in the medium-duty market, Villavarayan said, noting that while the Class 8 cycle has peaked, forecasts call for continued strength in medium-duty truck sales.
So the company is also introducing a lighter weight, more efficient carrier platform designed for Class 6 and 7 applications.
“With its power-dense design, the 13X is built to meet or exceed customer expectations for performance and durability,” said Karl Mayer, director, Product Strategy, Axles, North America for Meritor. “While the 14X platform has served us well in these markets, we’ve listened to our OEM customers’ requests for an axle that is lighter, more efficient and tailored to meet the needs of medium-duty applications.”
Engineered for a variety of medium-duty applications, including pick-up and delivery, beverage, utility, school bus, construction and ambulance, the single, rear-drive 13X utilizes the best technologies of Meritor’s 14X platform. Because the 13X includes the same housing, yokes and seals as the 14X, the new axle system will be familiar to fleet technicians, according to the company.
Available in a wide variety of ratios from 3.90 to 6.50 and with gross axle weight ratings (GAWR) between 17,000 and 21,000 pounds, the 13X can be configured for most Class 6 and 7 specific applications and fleet needs.
The 13X is offered with standard differentials and is compatible with air drum or hydraulic disc brakes as well as parking brakes. For limited application options that the 13X will not address, including ratios or driver-controlled differential locks (DCDL), the 14X single-axle platform will continue to be available.
The 13X will be available for OEM production starting in the second quarter of this year.