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April 3, 2017 9:00 AM, EDT

Kenworth, Peterbilt Refresh Truck Offerings

Kenworth Driver's Studio by Philip Scott Andrews for TT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kenworth Trucks and Peterbilt Motors said they will offer Allison TC10 fully automatic transmissions on selected models, that they are starting certified pre-owned truck sales programs and that they will soon offer as standard Bendix Wingman Advanced safety systems on certain models.

The two Paccar Inc. heavy-duty truck makers made these and other announcements here on March 22 at the Mid-America Truck Show.

Kenworth also displayed a new version of one of its vocational trucks, the T880S with a set-forward front axle, and rolled out a new cab interior called the Driver’s Studio package.

General managers for both companies said in separate presentations that recent economic news has led to a modest increase in optimism about 2017 Class 8 truck sales.

Kenworth’s Mike Dozier cited high levels of truck tonnage as measured by American Trucking Associations, strong construction spending, solid consumer confidence and steady automobile sales.

Kyle Quinn, who replaced Darrin Siver as Peterbilt’s chief in January, mentioned stronger spot market rates for trucking services and increased activity in the domestic oil and gas business. He also said talk of a large federal infrastructure program and corporate tax restructuring could lead to more need for trucks to haul freight.

The Allison transmission will become an option for Kenworth T680s and T880s and Peterbilt 567s and 579s during this year’s third quarter.

Kenworth Chief Engineer Patrick Dean said the transmission is aimed at linehaul, regional haul and pickup-and-delivery applications. It has 10 gears for going forward and two for reverse.

Scott Newhouse, Peterbilt’s chief engineer, said the transmission could work with Paccar’s MX-11 or MX-13 engines, or the Cummins X15.

Dean said Allison has been very strong in transmissions for vocational trucks, but now the company “wants to branch out” into over-the-road work. He said the TC10 is “completely different” from the Allison automatics used on vocational vehicles.

The Wingman Advanced active safety system uses radar — but not cameras — for collision mitigation and builds on electronic stability control. Starting in July the system will be standard on the Kenworth T680 and the Peterbilt 579.

Those two tractors are the most fuel-efficient highway tractors that the two OEMs produce.