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What’s New in Class 8 Trucks for Expediters in 2020

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Jan 13th 2020 1:46PM

As an expedite owner-operator or fleet owner who runs straight trucks or tractors for your business, you might be looking into purchasing new vehicles this year.

So, what’s new in heavy-duty trucks for 2020? What will you see in terms of new technologies, available options, and standard offerings that could impact your fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and safety?

Here are the trucks with notable changes for 2020 to give you an idea of what to expect.

Freightliner Cascadias powered by Detroit engines now come standard with Detroit Assurance 5.0, an active driver safety system that combines advanced radar and camera sensors.

The updated capabilities of Detroit Assurance 5.0 include:

  • Adaptive Cruise Control to 0 MPH: In stop-and-go-traffic, if the vehicle in front stops, the truck will also come to a stop and hold indefinitely. If the vehicle ahead moves in less than two seconds, the truck will resume moving at a safe following distance.
  • Active Brake Assist 5.0: When a moving pedestrian enters the truck’s path, the system applies input from the radar and camera sensors to warn the driver using visual and audible warnings simultaneously with partial emergency braking. If the driver doesn’t act, full emergency braking brings the truck to a complete stop.
  • Active Lane Assist: This optional feature will be available in early 2020 and consists of Lane Departure Protection and Lane Keep Assist. With Lane Departure Protection, if the truck begins to drift from its lane without the turn signal activated, a rumbling sound, along with a visual warning, will alert the driver. The system will then counter-steer the truck back into its lane. When Adaptive Cruise Control is enabled, Lane Keep Assist uses micro-steering movements to keep the truck centered in its detected lane.

Another critical update for the Cascadia from Detroit is Intelligent Powertrain Management 6 (IPM6), which comes standard with Detroit's DT12 automated manual transmission.

Think of IPM6 as predictive cruise control that uses pre-loaded terrain maps and GPS data to “predict” hilly terrain ahead and automatically adjust the truck’s acceleration and braking for optimal fuel efficiency and performance throughout the slope of each hill. The company says that IPM6 has increased map coverage of existing major highways and interstates by 35% from previous versions.

Here are the key updates from Volvo Trucks North America:

  • New workstation: Optional on the VNL 70-inch sleeper cab and VNX models, the new workstation offers a comfortable sitting area with a folding table that lowers to provide a base for the mattress cushions that can be unfolded to make a bed.
  • New 23-Inch wide-width seats: The two-inch wider seat cushion and back increase the comfort of the standard National seats. It’s available for both driver and passenger seats, ranging from level X5 to X7, with both heated and ventilated options.
  • Pre-Trip Assistant Upgrade: This system features a new exterior light inspection switch, on the left of the ignition, which makes it easier for drivers to perform an exterior light check during their pre-trip inspection.
  • Xceed Fuel Efficiency Package: This is tailored for Volvo’s VNL 760 and 860 sleeper models. Volvo says that the Xceed package can improve fuel efficiency by up to 11% compared with the Fuel Efficiency Plus specification, and is 3.5% more efficient than the Fuel Efficiency Advanced specification, which was previously the company’s most efficient offering.
  • New Turbo Compound engine: Volvo says this is the company's most fuel-efficient engine to-date, providing up to an additional 3% improvement in fuel efficiency over the previous D13 Turbo Compound engine and up to 11% fuel savings overall compared to model-year 2015 trucks.
  • Volvo Dynamic Maintenance: This connected vehicle service is designed to improve fleet operations efficiency through proactive vehicle maintenance planning. The new service allows a more accurate approach to planned maintenance needs and replaces the traditional "set-mileage-scheduled" service intervals.
  • Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS): This ultra-responsive new steering system is designed to reduce steering force up to 85%, helping to reduce driver fatigue and increase road safety.

In October, Kenworth announced the rollout of the company's TruckTech+ Over-The-Air program, making it more convenient for truck owners to load PACCAR MX engine and aftertreatment software updates remotely, without having to take the vehicle into the shop. The remote software update service began in December for select customers, with the full roll out expected early this year.

Kenworth Class 8 trucks equipped with 2017 or later model year PACCAR MX-13 and PACCAR MX-11 engines can receive software updates remotely. Active Kenworth TruckTech+ customers can access these updates on the PACCAR Solutions online portal or through the PACCAR Over-The-Air mobile app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The PACCAR Solutions portal provides truck owners with visibility to all their Kenworth trucks, truck performance data, and shows which trucks are requiring updates. Once you approve the update, the vehicle's software update package is automatically built, and you receive an email when the download is ready for installation.

How does it work?

When a truck is parked, a member of your maintenance team or your driver holds down the cruise control set switch for five seconds, and the download begins through the secure PACCAR cloud server. The PACCAR mobile app allows monitoring of the download, and lets you know when the download is complete—a process that typically takes less than 30 minutes, according to the company.

Peterbilt Motors Company announced enhanced capabilities and new features for the next generation Bendix Wingman Fusion collision-mitigation system. Updates include:

  • Highway Departure Braking (HDB): This system provides an audible alert to the driver and, if necessary, applies the brakes to reduce vehicle speed up to 20 mph if the system determines the vehicle has left the roadway unintentionally.
  • Multi-Lane Emergency Braking (AEB): This system can help the driver mitigate both the first, and potentially second, crash situation when more than one highway lane is blocked. Once a collision mitigation braking event begins, and the driver steers into an adjacent lane to avoid the forward vehicle, the new multi-lane AEB feature continues to apply the brakes when it detects another forward vehicle blocking the path in the new traffic lane.

The updated collision-mitigation system will be available early this year and comes standard on the company’s Model 579.