Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) previewed some of the latest productivity improvement technologies, directly from DTNA's development labs, on a new Innovation Truck. Starting with Freightliner Trucks' most aerodynamic solution — the Cascadia — DTNA added a sampling of the what it called the most promising cutting-edge advancements that will further enhance fuel economy.
“We've created the new Innovation Truck to highlight not only our existing technologies, but to show our customers what they can expect from us in the near future,” said Elmar Boeckenhoff, senior vice-president of engineering and technology at DTNA. “The Innovation Truck is part of our ongoing effort to shape future transportation by pushing the boundaries in engineering and technology.”
From the initial launch of the industry's first lightweight aluminum cab, to the unveiling of the Cascadia in 2007, DTNA has continued to develop products that push the boundaries to enhance the driving experience and impact the bottom line.
The Innovation Truck reflected greater refinement in aerodynamics with the addition of rear-wheel fairings to smooth the airflow around the rear wheels, under body panels that smooth air flow under the chassis, a roof deflector to direct air over the trailer, and a front-air splitter incorporated into the front bumper to pass air around the truck.
The Innovation Truck also replaced the mirrors with side-view cameras to further reduce drag. The camera system improves the field of view, eliminates blind spots, and reduces the typical “fish eye” effect.
Together, these enhancements improve the airflow over, under, and around the vehicle — resulting in further fuel savings. “What makes the Innovation Truck so aerodynamic is not just its shape, but the entire package, from bumper to tail lights,” said Boeckenhoff.
Mechatronics, the combination of electronic and mechanical systems, has been used to improve vehicle function and driver interaction with development of the RunSmart Predictive Cruise system. A world premiere for heavy-duty trucking industry, this system offers significant fuel savings by combining the latest in GPS technology with digital mapping to provide a 3D profile of the road ahead. The truck evaluates the upcoming road profile more than one mile in advance and determines the most fuel-efficient vehicle speed.
Further pushing the aerodynamic envelope, the Innovation Truck integrated a dual-ride-height system that, at highway speeds, lowers the tractor height, reducing under-chassis drag. The system uses a proprietary front air suspension in conjunction with Freightliner's rear air suspension.
The Innovation Truck was designed with a single drive axle, incorporating a load-management system that can transfer weight to the drive axle in low-traction situations. This configuration also reduced weight and cost.
A wireless SmarTire tire-pressure-monitoring system is integrated with a Lectronix T7000 navigation/infotainment unit. This system more accurately reports tire pressure, and the display unit simplifies pressure checks.
The Innovation Truck is EPA 2010 engine-emissions compliant using Daimler's proven BlueTec selective catalytic-reduction emissions technology. The exhaust after-treatment system is packaged under the right-hand step, and a diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is mounted on the left-hand-forward frame rail.
The ParkSmart HVAC System on the Innovation Truck is already available for the Cascadia. The system provides an integrated system solution for emission-free cooling and highly efficient heating without engine idling. Operating from a second bank of batteries, the ParkSmart system provides 8-10 hours of cooling, and up to 34 hours in heating mode, using a diesel-fired coolant heater.