July 31, 2017 11:15 AM, EDT

Production of New Freightliner Cascadia Ramps Up

Cascadia Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics

YOUNTVILLE, Calif. — Freightliner Trucks has ramped up production of its updated Cascadia model and has begun to roll out additional variations and options for the truck.

The new Cascadia, unveiled in September 2016, entered production in January and was on track to surpass 10,000 units during August, the original equipment manufacturer said.

Kary Schaefer, general manager of marketing and strategy at Daimler Trucks North America, touted the model’s early market reception at a July 27 press event here. Freightliner is the flagship brand of DTNA.

“We focused on delivering the lowest cost of ownership, which includes a great driver experience and leading fuel efficiency,” she said.

DTNA measured an 8% fuel efficiency improvement over a similarly spec’d 2016 Cascadia Evolution, and fleet customers have been confirming those fuel economy benefits, with one fleet reporting that it is averaging more than 9 miles per gallon with its trucks, Schaefer said.

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“We have had several fleets tell us that the new Cascadia has helped strengthen their driver recruiting efforts,” she added, citing the look of the truck, its handling, visibility, ergonomics and interior design.

Schaefer also highlighted the updated Cascadia’s use of Detroit’s connected vehicle technology, including the Virtual Technician remote diagnostics service.

Mike McHorse, on-highway product marketing manager for Freightliner, said take rates on Detroit components have increased on the new Cascadia compared with its predecessor.

Customers have spec’d the DT12 automated manual transmission on 94% of the new Cascadias ordered through July 7, versus about 68% on the older Cascadia.

Adoption rates for the Detroit Assurance safety system also have increased. About 59% of new Cascadia orders included Assurance 4.0, compared with 25% penetration of Assurance 2.0 on the classic Cascadia.

While DTNA has been a major proponent of in-house powertrains — urging customers to choose Detroit engines, axles and transmissions on their Freightliners and Western Stars — the company does allow room for customer choice. In July, DTNA introduced new product options for Cascadias, including the Cummins Inc. X15 engine and the Eaton Advantage automated manual transmission.

The company also now offers its “driver loft,” featuring opposing seats and a table that fold down in seconds, and a full-size Murphy bed.

“It’s a great utilization of space,” said McHorse, who described the loft as a driver recruiting and retention tool. “It’s almost become a recreational vehicle experience within that truck.”

DTNA plans to showcase variations and options for the new Cascadia at the inaugural North American Commercial Vehicle Show, scheduled for Sept. 25-28 in Atlanta.