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FORT WORTH, Texas — The infield lanes of Texas Motor Speedway provided the setting for Peterbilt Motors Co. to introduce members of the media to its new lineup of Classes 5-8 trucks.
The four new models include the Class 5 Model 535, Class 6 Model 536, the Model 537 in Class 7 and the Model 548 for vocational Class 8 applications. All of the trucks will be powered by Paccar PX-7 and PX-9 engines and feature the new eight-speed, TX-8 Paccar transmission. This transmission, which uses a torque converter, delivers fuel savings of 5% when compared with the earlier, similarly-spec’d models, Peterbilt said.
Peterbilt is a brand of Paccar Inc.
The new instrument cluster has digital speed readout with conventional round dials. (Peterbilt Motors Co)
“These new trucks are a clean-sheet design,” said Phil Hall, medium-duty Marketing Segment Manager for Peterbilt. “We understand that the medium-duty market — and our customers who use these trucks — are changing. To meet these changing expectations and ways of working, our team settled on a ‘human-centered design.’ ”
Hall said he and his team devoted much time to the interior design. “For this new medium-duty lineup, I challenged our design team to think in terms of a ‘qualitative’ engineering process,” Hall explained. “This meant focusing on customer need and understanding why they do things in certain ways when they’re using our trucks.”
Paccar TX-8 transmission is smooth shifting, fuel saving and acceleration-enhancing. (Peterbilt Motors Co)
In the cab, that meant an additional 8 inches of interior width over the outgoing model to accommodate three-across seating, two cab heights and two hood lengths that allow for bumper-to-back-of-cab lengths of 107 and 109 inches. Hall said the different roof heights and frame lengths expand the trucks’ versatility.
There also is 4.6 cubic feet of cab storage space, developed around driver input collected during real-world outings with customers so engineers and stylists could see how the trucks were actually used, Peterbilt said. Even the low-roof cab — designed to accommodate over-cab equipment such as buckets and cranes — has overhead storage, Hall noted during a walk-around at the track. Other interior storage features a slot large enough to accommodate a clipboard, door bins and cellphone storage that features a lip to help hold the device in place and allow drivers to use phone-based navigation.
Safe entry and exit are enabled with bright yellow grab handles. (Peterbilt Motors Co)
A flat cab floor is designed to ease cleaning, even at the job site, while seating options include an available air-suspended driver seat. Also optional is air ride suspension for the cab and rear axle.
The trucks’ digital dash has selectable gauge options that drivers can select via a rotating finger control on the multicontrol steering wheel. A supplementary display is offered that can show a variety of information, including infotainment and navigation.
From behind the wheel, sight lines to the road are enhanced by a new hood that sits 6.5 inches lower at the crown than the previous model. A key visual difference between the new and previous trucks is a grille that integrates more smoothly with the styling lines on the hood, with grille bars following the crease in the hood down and into the bumper area.
Truck on display at the media event included a Model 535 with a blacked-out grille and black wheels. This look represents the standard trim package, and carries a discount to a chrome grille.
A Model 535 with a blacked-out grille and black wheels. (Sturgess Associates)
The Model 548 on display featured a crane and lift axle.
The truck’s doors are triple-sealed to help reduce noise and drafts. The cab is accessed with a stair-like setup that includes lighting when the doors are opened. An outside grab rail has finger knurling on the inside to aid grip, and dual handrails either side of the door are there to help drivers enter the cab.
Hall said five themes embody the new trucks: uptime, efficiency, versatility, technology and productivity. For uptime, he said the trucks are designed to encourage quick and easy servicing, citing such things as easy access for fluid checks. He also demonstrated how the inner fender liner could be unsnapped to allow for access to change a headlamp bulb, a job he said could be accomplished in under five minutes. Hall said the varied roof heights and frame lengths aid the versatility, while technology is highlighted by the new dash and also common diagnostics featured across all Peterbilt products’ dash display. The emphasis placed on cab design and access can help improve productivity, Hall said.
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