October 29, 2019 1:45 PM, EDT

Peterbilt Adds New Features to Meet Market Returning to Normal Demand

Jason SkoogJason Skoog by John Sommers II for Transport Topics

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ATLANTA — Peterbilt Motors Co. announced a range of initiatives related to safety, electric vehicles, operational enhancements and its dealers.

They come at a time Peterbilt General Manager Jason Skoog said was marked by strong freight demand, softening rates especially in the spot market and robust interest in the operational efficiencies of new trucks.

Recent feedback from 40 customers showed they want to keep their fleet averages at less than two years, Skoog said, implying a four-year or better trade cycle. “They want to continue to take advantage of the latest technologies, improved fuel efficiency and be able to recruit drivers into newer equipment.”

He added that 2019 is expected to generate lower annual profits for many carriers compared with the very strong years of 2017 and 2018, but “it is likely to be the second-best year in aggregate in the past decade.” He said truck orders heading into 2020 are returning to a normal cycle.

The company made its announcements at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show Oct. 29.

Peterbilt reported the next-generation Bendix Wingman Fusion collision-mitigation system will be standard on its flagship 579 model for on-highway use starting in the first quarter of 2020.

The upgraded safety system features highway departure braking that provides an audible alert to the driver and, if necessary, applies the foundation brakes to reduce vehicle speed up to 20 mph if the system determines the vehicle has left the roadway unintentionally.

Also it includes a new multilane emergency braking feature intended to help the driver mitigate both the first, and potentially second, crash situation when more than one highway lane is blocked.

The 579 UltraLoft sleeper model has seen 70% of its orders from existing customers who converted out of Peterbilt’s traditional sleeper and 30% from other converts that had been with other truck makers, Skoog said. The company has received 11,000 orders and built 7,500 units since it was launched in July 2018.

At the same time, Peterbilt said it was showcasing its three electric vehicle configurations for refuse, regional haul and city delivery applications. Peterbilt is serving as parent company Paccar Inc.’s lead on electrification.

Peterbilt Frito-Lay

Peterbilt's Model 220EV was recently added to the Frito-Lay and PepsiCo fleet. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Peterbilt currently has 16 trucks in operation collecting real-world mileage with an additional 21 trucks going into service in the first half of 2020.

Its Model 579EV is currently in use by the third-party logistics provider Biagi Bros. The Model 220EV was recently added to the Frito-Lay and PepsiCo fleet, and the Model 520EV is for refuse applications.

Customers will be able to receive pricing information and begin ordering the electric vehicle configurations in the second quarter of 2020, and Peterbilt will begin low volume production of these units by the end of 2020, Skoog said.

Meanwhile, Peterbilt said Paccar’s 12-speed automated transmission is now available for use in vocational applications where the truck spends most of its time on pavement or maintained dirt and gravel roads, such as roll-offs, bottom dump trailers and heavy equipment transport.

Peterbilt will begin to offer over-the-air updates for the Paccar MX engines and aftertreatment systems beginning in December for customers with model year 2017 or newer MX-11 or MX-13 engines and an active SmartLINQ subscription.

Over 113,000 vehicles are equipped with SmartLINQ Remote Diagnostics functionality and customers are able to manage service events online through the Paccar Solutions Service Management portal.

Lastly, Peterbilt launched its Platinum Service Center program that scores each dealership location based on several key objective performance factors. These include outstanding facilities and drivers’ lounges, use of Paccar Solutions service management, expanded hours of service, excellent parts availability, certified MX engine technicians and lower dwell time for repairs, as well as performing Rapid Check triage.

Dealers who achieve the Platinum Service Center certification will be designated at the annual Peterbilt Dealer Meeting in February, and receive a special designation in Peterbilt’s Dealer Locator on the company’s website.

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