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Daimler Trucks North America announced its new Western Star 49X model designed to increase the brand’s share in the heavy-duty vocational market.
It described the 49X as the most-tested truck in Western Star’s lineup. The vehicle emerged, in part, from discussions with truck-body builders, and customer tests by loggers in British Columbia, snowplow operators in New Hampshire and oil patch truckers in West Texas.
The 49X will be available for ordering this winter and first deliveries are scheduled to begin in early 2021, said Portland, Ore.-based DTNA.
“We are the absolute leader in the North American on-highway side and we look to bring that success with that expertise and knowledge into the vocational side of the business,” David Carson, senior vice president of sales for the vocational segment at DTNA, said during a webinar.
WardsAuto.com reported DTNA’s Freightliner brand posted sales this year through August of 41,943 and at Western Star 3,646. The combined total of 45,589 amounted to 39.7% of the industry’s overall sales of 114,795 for the period — which compared with total industry sales of 183,462 in the first eight months of 2019.
Carson said the launch comes at a unique time “with more unpredictability than maybe predictability.”
Western Star 49X dump trucks. (Daimler Trucks North America)
He said the current Western Star 4900 model will continue to be sold as well and that DTNA will “monitor” those sales and decide “how we want to proceed after that.”
ACT Research Vice President Steve Tam told Transport Topics that vocational Class 8 vehicles represent about 27% of the total Class 8 market.
“We are expecting [total] U.S. Class 8 market sales to fall 37% this year,” Tam said. “Tractors are forecast to be down 42% while trucks should see a 24% reduction from 2019. The difference goes back to the more volatile and freight-centric nature of the tractor portion of the market. Vocational trucks also tend to be more long-lived, so replacement tends to be more stable.”
Earlier this year, DTNA announced it was transitioning from a brand structure in its sales and marketing to a segment structure focused on on-highway and vocational.
Western Star 49X (Daimler Trucks North America)
Meanwhile, the Western Star 49X has total weight savings of over 350 pounds in like-for-like spec’ing compared with the current Western Star 4900, starting with an all-new vocational frame. Single-channel frame rail options are available in a variety of thicknesses and feature best-in-class RBM (resisting bending moment) strength rating for single channel of up to 3.7 million inch-pounds, according to the company.
Another new feature is the hood. It uses a patented suspension system that behaves similarly to a typical coil-over shock suspension with spring and damper to dissipate vibrations from the chassis when driving over uneven terrain to protect the hood from damage and cracking.
Under the hood, the 49X comes standard with either the Detroit DT12 vocational or DT12 vocational extreme series of automated manual transmissions. The DT12 vocational series was validated in more than 35 million miles of testing and can be paired with the Detroit DD15 Gen 5 engine or Detroit DD16 engine, the largest and most powerful diesel engine available in the North American heavy-truck market. Both engines come equipped with Detroit Connect Virtual Technician remote diagnostic services to increase uptime and productivity.
DTNA spent more than $100 million developing the transmission series, said Samantha Parlier, vice president of vocational market development at DTNA. “So it is ready to go in the vocational space.”
The 49X can also be paired with a Cummins Inc. engine and an automatic transmission from Allison or a manual one from Eaton, she added.
Parlier said slips, trips and falls are the second most common type of workplace injury, and some operators may enter and exit the truck 50 times in a shift.
ABA5 with Detroit Assurance detects distance and speed to moving and stationary objects in the driving path of the 49X and determines if warning or automated braking is necessary. (Daimler Trucks North America)
With that in mind, Western Star design-engineered ergonomic ingress and egress for the 49X: door opening angles of 70 degrees, five handholds, and step treads widened by half an inch and constructed as a staircase (instead of a ladder) to help facilitate safer entry and exit from the cab. The steps start closer to the ground and use a volcano tread for high traction, added toe clearance, and mud, dirt and debris pass-through.
“We spent months and months and months trying to make sure we had the absolute best design in the industry, supplemented by the wide door opening,” said Tracy Mack-Askew, general manager of heavy-duty vocational platforms at DTNA.
The 49X also debuts a dual-stage LED headlight system featuring an internally printed heat grid and ambient air temperature sensor that can melt 3 millimeters of ice in less than 10 minutes at 40 degrees below zero, or to burn through condensation in warm, humid environments.
The Detroit Assurance suite of advanced collision mitigation systems is available in the 49X too.
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