Well, barely a couple of weeks into the year and we already have significant news to talk about on the hardware front. That’s courtesy of Daimler Trucks North America which launched its own proprietary axles — and a very full lineup at that — under the new ‘Detroit‘ brand during a press event in Miami last week. The press corps was grateful for the venue.
A steer axle plus both single and tandem drives come in a broad range of ratings said to cover 90% of North American applications. Detroit’s I-beam steer axles have an innovative needle-bearing design — no bushings — that promises to reduce wear, tighten tolerances, and deliver better performance with less maintenance. Friction and thrust bearings reduce chatter and enhance steerability, according to Tim Tindall, director of component sales for Detroit. This one sounds good.
The drive axles are marked by better sealing and more straightforward driveline angles that should reduce vibrations and add durability in the process.
The axles are built in Detroit’s Michigan plant but they originate, of course, from the very deep parts bin in Germany that DTNA is only beginning to access. And they’ll soon be followed by transmissions — the "missing link" — as part of Daimler’s long-term vehicle-integration plan that really began with the current Detroit engine that is in fact a diesel for Daimler at large, designed for global use from the outset, and built in both Germany and Japan as well as the U.S.
DTNA has several Mercedes Benz automated mechanical transmissions running around the U.S. in Freightliner Cascadia tractors right now, according to David Hames, general manager, marketing and strategy.