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Kenworth rolls forward with array of products, systems

LOUISVILLE, KY – Kenworth is projecting a growing Class 8 truck market in a year that will feature several planned rollouts – from automatic transmission options to a program for certified used trucks.

In the coming months, Allison TC10 automatic transmissions will be added as an option on Kenworth’s flagship T680 and T880 trucks in applications that need up to 1,850 lb-ft of torque and Gross Combination Weights up to 110,000 pounds.

The new T880S truck with a set-forward front axle has also entered production, targeting operations like ready-mix, dump and crane fleets. “Customer demand has already exceeded expectations,” says chief engineer Patrick Dean. The model includes a 28-inch bumper setting, and also comes with a 29.5-inch setting typical in dump applications, and a 31.5-inch bumper with a sturdy box bumper. They all help the truck to meet Bridge Formula requirements and stay under 40-foot limits.

The TruckTech+ Service Management continues to roll out, and an integrated fleet portal is coming this year.The plans reach beyond hardware alone. A Certified Pre-Owned Class 8 truck program officially launched at the Mid-America Trucking Show this week. Trucks sold through that will all have less than 725,000 kilometers on the odometer and need to pass a 150-point inspection. Those trucks with a PACCAR MX-13 engine under the hood will also benefit from a one year/200,000-kilometer warranty covering 105 engine and aftertreatment components.

At the dealership level, the TruckTech+ Service Management platform will continue to roll out this year. That will help service teams access chassis information, service bulletins, repair history and more. From there it will begin service requests, deliver estimates, and update the status of repairs. An integrated fleet portal coming this year will further help to manage service.

Collectively, that will help connect with more than 30,000 Class 8 Kenworths that have remote diagnostics and have collectively logged about 2.4 billion kilometers of service.

The updates follow what general manager Mike Dozier refers to as an “excellent year” for the company, which secured 15.1% of the heavy-duty market and 8.6% of medium-duty sales in 2016. And 47% of the heavy-duty trucks are now powered by the proprietary PACCAR MX engines.

He sees positive signs for 2017 as well. Truck tonnage is robust, construction is at a 10-year high, and auto sales are solid, he noted, adding that consumer confidence is at a 15-year high and forecast to remain strong.

It leads the company to project a Class 8 market of 190,000 to 220,000 units, with medium-duty trucks holding at about 85,000, Dozier says, adding that the growth in MX engine shares should continue as well.

It will all emerge from a strong domestic manufacturing presence.

“’Made in the USA’ is part of the Kenworth fabric,” Dozier added, referring to the 2,000 employees at manufacturing facilities in Chillicothe, Ohio and Renton, Washington. In the last five years, about US $70 million has been invested in those operations as well.

Kenworth also continues to look to the future, focusing on the promise of autonomous vehicles. A new partnership with Nvidia, for example, will offer the graphic processing power needed for things like lane controls and traffic jam assist, Dozier said.

And the company continues to leverage grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and California Air Resources Board to develop six T680 hyrbid-electric drayage tractors, one of which will be powered by hydrogen. Track tests are on schedule to begin later this year on that equipment.

“They share a very similar platform,” Dean said. “We’re trying to develop chassis and vehicle systems that, powertrain wise, are very flexible.”

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Kenworth truck market automatic transmissions dealerships. T880S MX engine manufacturing