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What’s New in Heavy-Duty Trucks for 2021

By Sean M. Lyden - Staff Writer
Posted Feb 15th 2021 12:25PM

If you’re an expedite owner-operator or fleet owner who runs class-8 straight trucks or tractors, you might be considering purchasing new vehicles this year.

So, what’s new in heavy-duty trucks for 2021to boost fuel economy, lower maintenance costs and enhance safety?

Here are four trucks with notable updates this year.

Freightliner Cascadia
What’s New: DT12-HE transmission, DD15 Gen 5 engine

Freightliner rolled out the next generation of the Detroit DD15 engine and expanded the Detroit DT12 automated manual transmission lineup to include the DT12-HE for Cascadia models.

Available with January 2021 truck builds, the DD15 Gen 5 engine has been completely updated and engineered to enhance performance, durability and fuel economy.

Improvements for 2021 include increased down-speeding, better combustion and a new swirl piston design, delivering up to a three percent improvement in fuel efficiency from propulsion alone.

A new ball bearing simple geometry turbocharger reduces friction and allows peak power and torque to be reached faster in the Cascadia. Peak horsepower is reached at lower engine RPMs of 1500 RPM versus the prior generation’s 1625 RPM, and peak torque is achieved at 900 RPM versus a previously rated 1075 RPM.

Modified inlet ports in engine cylinders and a new piston bowl shape generate a swirl effect that creates a fuel spray pattern that produces cleaner combustion with greater efficiency than the previous generation of the DD15.

The Detroit DT12-HE transmission is an all-new DT12 option that enables down-speeding with faster rear axle ratios to achieve maximum powertrain fuel efficiency.

Cascadia production with the DT12-HE begins in early 2021.

Volvo Trucks
What’s New: Driver Display Activation (DDA)

After a four-month pilot program, Volvo Trucks’ Driver Display Activation (DDA) application went into full production on Nov. 30, 2020. With DDA, operators can directly activate over-the-air system updates within minutes, at a convenient and safe location – whether at the next rest stop or back at the shop.

Volvo Trucks’ Remote Programming service provides fleet operators with a flexible way to update software and parameters to enhance the truck’s engine, transmission, and aftertreatment. And DDA puts the activation step into the operator’s hands instead of calling a Volvo Action Service agent to initiate a remote update. Volvo says DDA cuts administration and updating time in half.

All Volvo trucks built after Nov. 30, 2020, will offer the DDA interface free of charge for the first two years, bundled with Volvo Trucks’ Remote Diagnostics services.

Mack Trucks
What’s New: Updated 13-liter Mack MP8HE engine

In October, Mack Trucks announced a new version of its 13-liter Mack MP8HE engine that improves fuel efficiency by up to three percent compared to the current MP8HE.

The company also said that Mack Anthem models spec’d with Mack’s new extended chassis fairings and HE+ efficiency package - which includes the updated MP8HE engine - now deliver up to a 13 percent improvement in fuel efficiency compared with a baseline Anthem model.

The new MP8HE engine will continue to be offered in 415 and 445 horsepower ratings with 1,760 and 1,860 lb.-ft. of torque, respectively.

International Trucks
What’s New: Enhanced automated safety systems

International Truck, the commercial truck brand of Navistar International Corporation, now offers enhanced features of the Bendix Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system on the International LT Series, RH Series, MV Series, HV Series and HX Series.

The new Wingman Fusion system offers increased braking power on the tractor and trailer compared to the original Fusion system. It also retains the capabilities of the system’s earlier versions, such as stationary object alerts, over-speed alerts and intervention, lane departure warning, and prioritized alerts to help reduce driver distraction.

International has also added an enhanced optional Bendix BlindSpotter Side Object Detection System features for the LT Series and RH Series. The new BlindSpotter system provides a more expansive 150-degree coverage range, with object detection up to 20 feet in front of and behind the radar.

By operating in two modes – highway speeds and lower speeds – the new Blindspotter system has an increased ability to filter stationary objects like guardrails at highway speeds and narrow the range for alerts without filtering stationary objects infrastructure at speeds less than 20 mph.