Freightliner upgrades Century S/T, introduces Mercedes components

Oct. 1, 2003
After a four-year production run following the initial announcement of the Century S/T conventional tractor, Freightliner has upgraded the vehicle with

After a four-year production run following the initial announcement of the Century S/T conventional tractor, Freightliner has upgraded the vehicle with a new hood, grille, and bumper. The original Century S/T was introduced in 1999 when Freightliner split its Century Class product line into two parts — the Century S/T, a high technology offering, and the Columbia, a traditional highway tractor primarily for truckload fleets.

The original Century S/T was built with many safety and technology features as standard equipment, including a driver's side airbag, an Eaton-Fuller AutoShift 10-speed transmission, an EzyRider seat, along with noise reduction and ride enhancements.

The new Century S/T is designed to remain the most technologically advanced vehicle in the Freightliner inventory, says Mark Lampert, Freightliner senior vice-president, sales and marketing. In addition to styling changes, the new Century S/T has increased cooling capacity and better light distribution from new headlamps. With the new grille and headlamps, the Century S/T takes on a slightly more traditional look than the previous model. However, the new design does not alter the aerodynamics or the driver visibility built into the original Century S/T, he says.

The new Century S/T is built as a 120-inch BBC conventional tractor. The new chrome grille allows for more cooling capacity needed to accommodate the new EPA 2002 engines. The grille and an opening in the bumper open up 55% of the total front surface area of the tractor to the cooling system.

The new tractor has a redesigned and restyled three-piece front bumper. The two outboard bumper pieces are damage-tolerant plastic. The center section is metal with a chrome finish as an option. In addition, inset road lamps and amber accent lamps can be specified as appearance options.

Headlamps have been changed by replacing the seven-inch circular lamps with a new composite lamp with better light distribution for increased night visibility. The headlamps use a polycarbonate lens and readily replaceable standard bulbs.

Fenders are designed to provide better protection of the engine compartment and easier access to the engine. Inner fender splash shields now mount to the hood instead of to the chassis. This helps protect fenders from road debris thrown up by the tires and keeps splash and spray away from the engine. When the hood is tilted, the splash shields move with the fenders, making the engine and other components easier to reach.

Freightliner has a new sun visor design available for tractors with sleeper berths. Production of the new sun visor begins in the fourth quarter 2003. The new visor is a one-piece aerodynamic design. It weighs less and can be removed and replaced more quickly than the previous three-piece sun visor, which remains an option for the Century S/T.

The new tractor can be specified with engines from Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, and Mercedes-Benz. Seven separate sleeper berth configurations will be offered.

Century S/T is not alone with the appearance makeover. Both Century S/T and the Freightliner Columbia have received a new interior package. The new Signature interior is available in vinyl or cloth with four options for color. The interior includes color-matched carpet and curtains along with diamond-stitched trim panels. Extra padding in the upholstered panels provides better insulation for a quiet ride. Seats also have a diamond pattern with a Freightliner logo in the seat back.

The new interior provides a leather-wrapped steering wheel and wood paneling on the instrument panel. The entire package is intended for independent contractors and for small fleets that want an interior that appeals to top-flight drivers.

Freightliner also has announced a new range of Mercedes-Benz diesel engines for both its Business Class medium trucks and its heavy trucks. The MBE900 is slated for the medium trucks. The engine is available into two configurations, a 4.3-liter four-cylinder version with horsepower ratings from 170 to 190, and a 7.2-liter version rated from 190 hp to 330 hp. Torque ratings for the MBE900 series range from 420 to 1,000 lb-ft. MBE900 engines have induction-hardened cylinder bores. The medium engines will be available in Freightliner Business Class trucks and Sterling Acterra trucks.

For heavy-duty applications, Freightliner offers the 12.8-liter MBE4000 with ratings from 350 hp to 450 hp and torque ratings from 1,350 to 1,450 lb-ft. The MBE4000 develops 90% of its available torque at 1,000 rpm, providing the capability to climb grades without excessive shifting. The MBE4000 is available in Freightliner Century S/T and Columbia tractors, and the heavy end of the Freightliner Business Class line, as well as in the Sterling A- and L-series trucks and tractor.

Both series of engines provide engine braking, with an exhaust brake, a compression brake, or a combination exhaust/compression brake on the MBE900 and an exhaust/compression brake on the MBE4000. The MBE900 can generate up to 215 braking horsepower, while the heavy-duty MBE4000 is good for up to 500 braking hp.

The engines use exhaust gas recirculation to meet EPA exhaust emission standards. Electronic fuel controls provide the capability to customize engine performance and to extract operating data for management and self-diagnosis for maintenance.

Warranties are three years or 150,000 miles for medium-duty engines in highway applications and two years with unlimited mileage for the heavy-duty MBE4000. Engine support is available from Freightliner, Sterling, and Detroit Diesel dealers. The engines will become available in the first quarter 2004.

To make driving in congested traffic easier, Freightliner has introduced a Mercedes-Benz automated gear shift (AGS) transmission for Business Class trucks. The automated transmission will be available in the first quarter 2004.

The AGS transmission has a two-pedal, automated clutch actuation system with no manual shifting or clutch operation required. Removing the clutch pedal from the vehicle controls helps extend clutch and transmission life, and makes the transmission more economical to maintain. However, the AGS transmission can be shifted manually using the Freightliner SmartShift lever used to control other automated transmissions.

The AGS transmission is available with Mercedes-Benz MBE900 engines rated from 170 to 250 hp. Approved torque ratings are 520 lb-ft for vehicles weighing up to 40,000 lb and 660 lb ft for 60,000 lb trucks.

The transmission is controlled by an electronic transmission control unit that senses road and load conditions and grades to determine shift points for the most efficient operation and best fuel economy. The control unit selects the proper engine speed for a shift and engages smoother than a conventional manual transmission.

The AGS is based on a Mercedes-Benz six-speed transmission that has a long history of use in Europe. It has heat-treated steel alloy gears and sealed bearings in an aluminum alloy case with an integrated bell housing. The shift actuator is hydraulic.

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