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June 1, 2007
AMID a shower of sparks from fireworks and under a flood of spotlights, Freightliner LLC took the wraps off Cascadia. The new Class 8 tractor made its

AMID a shower of sparks from fireworks and under a flood of spotlights, Freightliner LLC took the wraps off Cascadia. The new Class 8 tractor made its public debut May 2 during a media event in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Production will begin in August for Cascadia, developed as a replacement for the Century and Columbia models, both of which will be discontinued in 2010. Freightliner dealers began taking orders for Cascadia in mid-May.

Available in daycab and sleeper versions, Cascadia was built on an entirely new platform. Further, it is the first Freightliner built and engineered using the company's Portland, Oregon, wind tunnel, the only testing facility of its kind in the world built specifically for Class 8 vehicles.

More than one million engineering hours, including 2,500 hours in the wind tunnel, went into Cascadia's development. The result is a sleek tractor design that offers 3% improvement in fuel economy over previous models.

“Our wind tunnel was constructed expressly for this kind of new model development,” said Chris Patterson, president and chief executive officer of Freighliner LLC. “Apparently tiny tweaks in the design made possible by unlimited use of our own facility can bring owners significant savings in fuel consumption over the life of their truck.”

Michael Delaney, senior vice-president of marketing for Freightliner LLC, added: “We are confident that the Cascadia has the most aerodynamic truck design on the market today. Improvements included major design features and many small enhancements. We closed gaps on the hood — reducing drag — and we created more main and auxiliary mirrors. Fog lamps are flush with the bumper. We incorporated a smooth stamped aluminum body and a whole new design. The end result is an optimized tractor surface with 20% less wind drag in addition to the 3% gain in fuel efficiency. That can amount to $1,200 to $1,500 or more in fuel savings a year per truck.”

New engines

In addition, Cascadia was designed specifically for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 2007 engines and will be able to adapt easily to the EPA 2010 engines. Its expandable DaimlerChrysler-engineered electronic platform can easily accommodate new engine technology. Cascadia was designed for easy optimization with the all-new 2010-ready Detroit Diesel heavy-duty engine family, the first of which will debut later this year. Known within DaimlerChrysler as the Heavy-Duty Engine Platform, this engine family will be used in Truck Group vehicles worldwide, following its launch in Freightliner vehicles.

The new engines bring increased cooling requirements, and the engine compartment was designed with bigger radiators in mind. Tractors with the 2007 engines will have a 1,625-square-inch radiator. A 1,755-square-inch radiator will be used with the 2010 engines.

Cascadia also was designed for greater reliability and lower cost of maintenance. Ease-of-maintenance features include an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system designed to reduce repair frequency, extended life headlamp bulbs, and easy access to the engine and accessory components attached to it.

In addition, the two-piece, roped-in windshield can be replaced in as little as 16 minutes, according to Delaney. The truck has a three-piece bumper and three-piece hood making it possible for mechanics to quickly remove and replace just a damaged section. Engineers moved the batteries forward on the frame making them more accessible and quicker to change.

The Cascadia doesn't just boost profits. Freightliner engineers crafted a comfortable heavy-duty truck that surrounds the driver with productivity-enhancing features. “Recruiting drivers is challenging, so many of our customers wanted to add more style and comfort features to their fleets without breaking the bank,” said Patterson. “The Cascadia offers these amenities without compromise.”

When developing the Cascadia, Freightliner engineers studied the needs of drivers and how they operate their vehicles. This feedback was the basis for design features such as a wider cab with automotive styling, ergonomic controls, and extensive lighting and storage space to make the cab more comfortable and livable.

The Cascadia also provides a more peaceful work environment. With double door and window seals, improved engine and cab mounts, additional insulation and a hydraulic clutch, the cab offers reduced vibration and significantly less road noise. The noise level in the cab is just 68 to 72 decibels, according to Delaney.

The Cascadia's enhanced ergonomics are another result of customer feedback. “The truck was designed to today's driver, something that was long overdue,” Delaney said. “In 1983, the average driver weighed 190 pounds. By 2001, the average weight was 215 pounds. Today's drivers weigh on average 230 pounds, a 17.3% increase from 1983. It is clear that older interior sizes don't address the realities now.”

The cab is 20% bigger and has larger seats, larger door openings (29% wider) for easy entry and egress, more head and belly room, and easier-to-use switches and climate controls. Steering wheel controls, including the compression brake activation, allow drivers to be more comfortable and improve safety as they drive down the highway.

Maneuverability and handling are two more driver-friendly features. Freightliner's innovative rack and pinion steering system — the first system of its kind installed on Class 8 trucks — is available as an option on Cascadia.

Rack and pinion improves durability through lower system pressure and temperature, provides quicker steering response, and reduces steering effort. It eliminates bump steer, and roll steer is significantly reduced, which reduces driver fatigue. Rack and pinion also offers a 45-lb weight savings.

Upgraded visibility is another safety benefit found on the Cascadia. Redesigned mirrors, mounted on both the doors and the fender, offer aerodynamic benefits as well as improved visibility. A larger windshield also provides better upward sight lines.

Cascadia is available with an impressive range of standard and optional equipment. Specifications include:

  • Gross vehicle weight ratings of 35,000 to 71,000 pounds with a gross combination weight rating of 92,000 pounds.

  • Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine with 455 horsepower is standard; an MBE 4000 with ratings of 370 to 450 hp and Caterpillar C15 with ratings from 435 to 550 hp are available options.

  • EatonFuller manual transmission is standard; UltraShift and AutoShift transmissions are available options.

  • Standard front taperleaf suspension rated at 12,000 pounds; optional spring suspension rated at 14,600 pounds.

  • Standard rear AirLiner suspension rated at 40,000 pounds; optional AirLiner suspension rated at 21,000 pounds.

  • Cascadia initially is available with a 72-inch raised roof sleeper. A 72-inch mid-roof sleeper will follow this fall.