The 2021 edition of The Work Truck Show begins on March 8. And like many industry trade shows have done since the COVID-19 global health crisis started, it is being held as a virtual event. By doing so, show organizer NTEA - The Association for the Work Truck Industry can still bring the industry together while also keeping attendees, exhibitors and trade show staff safe.
READ MORE: Taking a New Approach to Industry Events in the Age of COVID
Running through March 12, this year's Work Truck Show will once again highlight the many technologies and trends currently under development for the work truck industry. A green hour will be held each day, as well, highlighting alternative energy technologies much like the Green Truck Summit would which is held in conjunction with The Work Truck Show.
This year's show kicked off on Monday, March 8 with a media day during which a handful of press conferences were held by major manufacturers including Mack Trucks, Ford, XL Fleet and more, highlighting new technologies and initiatives from the companies.
Each day this week we'll update this article with all of the news from the show that will be of most interest to you our readers in the heavy-duty on- and off-highway engineering industries, so be sure to check back for updates.
News highlights from Day 5 - March 12
Truck OEMs provide electrification overview
On the final day of the virtual Work Truck Show, several truck OEMs provided updates on their electrification strategies. Brett Duarte, Sales Manager – Electrified Vehicles at Kenworth Truck Company, noted the industry is witnessing its most significant and rapid shift in technology. Electric vehicle (EV) uptake he said is being driven by both regulations and the reduced cost of ownership possible with EVs.
During its presentation, Peterbilt highlighted the fact its electric the 579EV recently achieved the milestone of scaling Pikes Peak. The truck’s ability to do so demonstrated its capabilities in difficult driving conditions as well as its ability to perform similar to a diesel truck which is an important factor for customers.
Peterbilt also provided an overview of the many benefits, and challenges, which remain with battery-electric vehicles. Battery size and weight continues to be a challenge and the reason the company and others like it are first focusing on shorter range and regional haul applications. The battery size and weight in these vehicles will not negatively impact payload, and recharging infrastructure can be installed at a home base which is necessary until more charging infrastructure is built out across the U.S.
To best accommodate the four batteries used on the Mack LR Electric refuse truck, the company said during its presentation that two of the batteries are mounted transversely behind the cab. The other two batteries are mounted on the truck’s chassis. Mounting the batteries transversely allows room on the frame on the passenger side of the truck for the automated side loader mechanism, explained Scott Barraclough, Technology Product Manager at Mack Trucks.
During its presentation, Hino Trucks overviewed the various battery technologies available in the market and the different advantages they can provide. Dominik Beckman, Director, Marketing & Dealer Operations at Hino Trucks, said there are several major factors that need to be considered including the voltage system, battery chemistry and cooling system.
The company also announced during its chassis update session it will use Cummins engines for its L and XL Series models by the end of 2021. “This will enable us to free up resources to accelerate our efforts in ZEV (zero-emissions vehicles) and PROJECT Z developments and bring our ZEV vehicles to market by the end of 2022,” said Beckman.
Project Z is Hino’s development path for ZEV ranging from Class 4-8. It is working with several companies to develop various product offerings. When first announced in October, the aim was to have vehicles in production by 2024. But the new collaboration with Cummins will now help accelerate those efforts.
Beckman also noted new advancements have been made in the company’s fuel cell technology, and announcements will be made in the company months about its fuel cell truck.
All of the OEMs emphasized there is no one solution that will fit all applications and needs. Because of this, they continue to research technology options and evolve their electric truck designs.
News highlights from Day 4 - March 11
Alternative power sources put in the spotlight
The fourth day of The Work Truck Show provided a focus on alternative energy technologies during some sessions. During a Green Hour presentation entitled “Emissions Reduction: Leveraging Multiple Techniques” leaders from CALSTART, NACFE and Chicago Area Clean Cities discussed the various alternative power solutions currently available and the ways their organizations work with the industry and fleets to help evaluate and implement those solutions.
Steve Sokolsky, Program Manager at CALSTART, noted during the presentation the many resources it has available to help those looking to add alternative power vehicles to their fleet. One of the next tools the organization is working on is a charging infrastructure guide as it knows that is one of the biggest challenges to adopting electrification or other alternative energy options. The guide is meant to help plan out the process of adopting necessary infrastructure and engaging with utilities.
He also discussed the Global Drive to Zero program which is a global initiative aiming to accelerate growth of near- and zero-emissions commercial vehicles. He said currently there are many vehicles available for the medium- and heavy-duty (MHDV) markets which fit this goal, and more will soon. By 2040, the goal is to have the majority of the MHDV market be composed of zero-emissions vehicles.
Dave Schaller, Industry Engagement Director, North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), also discussed the various resources available to manufacturers and fleets. He discussed how NACFE continues to monitor the various alternative fuels and energy sources available in the market or under development, and how they continue growing. While not all of them are necessarily considered to be zero-emissions, there are options which help to lower emissions compared to traditional fuels and offer alternatives that can be used now.
Schaller said it’s an interesting and exciting time in the industry, and the next two decades will be what NACFE has termed the “messy middle.” More electric and alternative fuel powered vehicles will enter the market, more infrastructure for those vehicles will be built, and as they are used in real-world applications there will be further optimization. So there will be a lot of continued advancements and challenges in the coming years. But that will all eventually get us to a more stable scenario where technologies will be matured and the learning curves will be lessened.
He said NACFE will also launch a new Run on Less program in 2021 focused on battery-electric vehicles. It will be looking for 10 fleets and 10 different OEM models to participate in the program which aims to track daily vehicle performance to demonstrate the fuel and emissions savings possible with these vehicle types.
In another session, Cummins Inc. provided a bit of a Q&A with its Chief Technical Officer, Jim Fier. In it he discussed the many advances he’s seen over the years as well as the excitement he feels for what’s yet ahead.
A key thing he pointed out, and which Cummins has been emphasizing for several years now, is the company’s goal of delivering ‘power of choice.’ Like many companies, Cummins knows not every power solution is going to work for every customer or application. Because of this, it is investing in various areas including diesel engines, alternative fuels, battery solutions and fuel cells.
Fier noted partnerships with other companies as well as investments in its own talent will be key to achieving the various technology goals it has set for itself. He said there is a lot of debate about what the future will hold and the best technologies to utilize, but in general things are changing, we’re in a transition period, and it’s an exciting time to be working in the industries that Cummins does.
READ MORE: Achieving Net-Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050
News highlights from Day 3 - March 10
ZF overviews new 8-speed transmission technology
ZF provided a demo of its PowerLine 8-Speed Automatic Transmission which is now available for commercial vehicle applications.
Andre Kohl, North America Commercial Vehicle Driveline Business Development at ZF, noted it will be produced in the U.S. at an existing facility in Gray Court, SC. The transmission will be manufactured on a dedicated production line using state-of-the-art technology; it will help add 500 new jobs to the area.
Kohl said the transmission has four gearsets, the same as 6-speed transmissions. However, the improved architecture of the transmission enables two additional speeds with the same amount of gear sets. Use of advanced technology—including fast shifting, additional speeds and applying lockup after launch—enables 15% better acceleration than 6-speed transmissions on the market.
The transmission also offers easier installation for OEMs as it has a compact package and uses just one connector between the engine and transmission. There is no external hardware either, ensuring durability of the transmission.
Additional features include:
- Twin torsional damper and advanced software for a smoother ride.
- Motion DRD to shift between drive and reverse, and vice versa, without needing to bring the vehicle to a full stop.
- Multi-Shift Skip which eliminates gear hunting during hill climbs; instead the optimal gear is automatically selected.
Isuzu announces enhancements to N-Series diesel trucks
Isuzu Commercial Truck of America, Inc. announced an enhancement to its 2022 interim model year N-Series diesel trucks. Designated model year 2022i, they include various improvements such as optional Advanced Driver Assistance Systems with Automatic emergency Braking and Lane Departure Warning.
Electronic Vehicle Stability Control, new standard and optional fuel tanks, and standard four-wheel disc brakes are also included on these vehicles. Isuzu noted the trucks have refreshed interior and exterior designs as well.
“The positive economic outlook for 2021 suggests that the medium-duty segment will grow this year,” said Shaun C. Skinner, President of both Isuzu Commercial Truck of America and Isuzu Commercial Truck of Canada. “These changes to the foundation of our lineup—our Class 3 through 5 N-Series diesel-powered trucks—respond to our customers’ requests and come at the perfect time to take advantage of growth in this segment.”
DOE presents sustainable transportation strategy
Michael Berube, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), provided an overview of the transportation strategy the department and Biden administration are looking to achieve.
He noted President Biden has set out one of the country’s most ambitious climate plans to date, and has proposed a goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. To do this, Berube said there will need to be close collaboration between industry and government.
He said a diversified portfolio of fuel and power options will be needed for vehicles including those in the medium- and heavy-duty truck space. It will be necessary to focus on solutions that can be incrementally deployed and capable of delivering results in the near term. Berube said to achieve the 2050 goal there needs to be results by as soon as 2030. Doing so will require more anticipation and leveraging of new mobility solutions.
As a means of helping meet these goals, Kelly Speakes-Backman, Acting Assistant Secretary at EERE, announced there will be three new notices of intent for sustainable transportation technologies funding opportunities coming in the spring of 2021.
This includes the third phase of the DOE’s SuperTruck program which aims to look at even further efficiency improvements for heavy vehicles. In this iteration, there will be involvement from the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) and improvements to medium- and heavy-duty trucks will be investigated as well as freight systems.
Read more about the SuperTruck program.
News highlights from Day 2 - March 9
Rosco Vision overviews latest safety systems
Rosco Vision highlighted its newest technology, including its Eye-Max LED under-mounted lights which are designed to improve visibility of people and objects in front of a truck in low light conditions. More LED lights have been added to the Eye-Max mirror head to improve visibility for drivers.
In addition, the company discussed its video technology including its Dual-Vision XC4 which captures and records unsafe driving behaviors. It can be connected to up to eight cameras, and provides real-time alerts so drivers can make corrective actions for safer driving behaviors. Fleet managers can also review the recorded information to help improve driving behavior and training.
Rosco Vision also noted there will be new technologies coming in the near future from the company, such as a Driver Management System (DMS). It will help detect unsafe behaviors while the vehicle is in operation, said Josh Terebinski, Senior Regional Sales Manager, Midwest at Rosco Vision. The DMS can detect:
- Drowsiness – if driver yawns or eyes are closed for prolonged periods of time.
- Distraction – when driver’s eyes are not looking forward as well as downward head movements.
- Phone Use – if drivers are holding a phone by their ear while driving.
- Audio alerts will be provided if any of these are detected to encourage drivers to make corrective actions.
Additionally, the company plans to introduce an updated version of its in-cab recorders which use artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technology to improve recording capabilities.
IHS Markit provides truck market forecast
Andrej Divis, Director, Medium & Heavy Commercial Vehicle Research, IHS Markit, provided an overview of the truck market in 2020 and forecasts for 2021. The medium-duty market faired relatively well in 2020, with Class 5 trucks gaining market share and significantly increasing volume. Divis said this was partly due to the booming e-commerce sector as well as specific vocations which use this class size truck fairing better than some other markets.
Class 7 performed the worst in 2020, he said; this segment registered the lowest volumes seen in the last 10 years and had the lowest market share in the Class 4-8 segments.
During 2020, most of the top vocations for Class 4-8 trucks remained relatively stable except for the Lease/Rental segment which decreased significantly compared to 2019, said Divis. The construction sector saw a slight increase to a 7% share of the Class 4-8 market as housing starts were much improved in 2020.
When looking at new truck registrations by fuel type, Divis noted diesel remains the dominant fuel type although its market share is declining. Traditionally its market share is over 80% but in 2020 that declined. Divis said in the U.S. this is due not to growing use of electric and fuel cell technology but the increased use of gasoline, particularly for Class 4 and lower vehicles. Natural gas remains a niche fuel for some applications, and the market share for other alternatives such as propane and electrification remain small at the moment but is expected to grow in the future.
In general, the forecast for 2021 looks positive. Strong consumer demand will continue to drive freight and housing starts are expected to remain at a high level, as well said Divis. There is also a healthy trend in business fixed investments, which will also bode well for the heavy truck industry.
READ MORE: 2021 is Looking Better for Most Global Commercial Vehicle Markets
Divis said the 2021 will likely see a 5.7% expansion of the U.S. economy followed by another 4.1% expansion in 2022. E-commerce will continue to play a key role, though may begin to decline slightly once service businesses open more and consumers begin spending their money in that part of the economy.
There are many factors which could have further effects on the industry, as well he noted, such as the potential of an infrastructure bill and upcoming greenhouse gas (GHG) Phase II regulations. For the latter, Divis said pre-buys in 2023 will likely occur but likely will not have a major impact sales as has been in the case when other emissions regulations have gone into effect.
He also noted the current supply chain issues being experienced by some of the smaller OEMs—particularly those related to a shortage of semiconductor chips—have not yet seemed to affect larger truck OEMs. However, many of them are experiencing a high level of demand for vehicles and needing to ramp up production which could pose its own challenges for some.
Freightliner Custom Chassis announces new safety features, electrification plans
Freightliner Custom Chassis (FCC) announced during Work Truck Show 2021 it will be adding several new technology features aimed at improving safety and comfort for operators. Among those is a new digital display which can be customized by vehicle operators to show the gauges and vehicle information most important to them.
Mike Stark, Product Manager at Freightliner Custom Chassis, said this Optiview Instrument Panel was originally developed for motorhome products and is now being brought to the medium-duty truck market. It helps to minimize driver distractions by providing only the information the driver wants which customers have told FCC is typically the speedometer, fuel gauge, navigation and some warnings such as the low fuel indicator.
In general the company is looking to add more features similar to those in the passenger car segment. This helps to not only improve comfort and safety, but also ease the learning curve for new drivers as the vehicle controls will be similar to what they have in their own vehicles.
On the safety side of things, FCC is adding its Roadwatch Safety Systems to its medium-duty offerings which includes object detection, a 360-degree camera system, lane departure warning, collision mitigation and more. There is also a backup camera system which increases in warning intensity if the vehicle starts getting too close to an object.
FCC also announced during the show its electrification plans. This included an overview of its MT50e all-electric, zero-emissions chassis. It is designed for the pickup and delivery market, and has the same base frame structure as the company’s current gas and diesel chassis platform.
The MT50e features a payload capacity of 6,000 lbs. It uses Proterra batteries with a capacity of 226 kWh offering a power rating of 226 kW (303 hp). FCC chose to use Proterra’s battery technology because it is proven and adaptable to a variety of applications; it is also heavy-duty enough to meet the needs of FCC customers.
Regenerative braking helps to recharge the batteries, particularly in applications with a lot of stop and start cycles. The electric chassis provides a driving range of 170-200 miles and fully charges in 3 hours using DC Fast Charging technology. The company also plans to introduce AC charging in the future.
The company plans to continue advancing its electrification development efforts which it began in 2018. It will continue with customer trials and move toward further global alignment of components and system strategies with sister brand Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA).
Cummins provides overview of new EPA2021 L9 engine
Cummins Inc. has introduced its EPA2021 L9 engine which lowers carbon dioxide emissions while increasing efficiency and fuel economy. The company did so by improving its existing engine technology; instead of redesigning its L9 engine platform, Cummins added additional external emissions equipment, said Adam Field, Assistant Product Manager at Cummins.
Derek Kiesler, Medium Duty Product Manager at Cummins, said the company approached the new engine design with reliability and performance improvements in mind. These were achieved through the head gasket material and capability improvements to handle the most aggressive application duty cycles and temperature environments.
Internal hardware improvements were made to the turbocharger actuator, and improvements were made to cooling venting to handle challenging running and hot shutdown conditions. Cummins also improved the EGR valve design to increase reliability and resist faults. Additionally, the engine block’s oil pan rail and oil pan gasket were re-engineered to improve sealing capability.
To enhance performance, Cummins lowered peak torque speed of the engine so it provides full torque over a wide operating range. Kiesler said this improves drivability with less downshifting required on grade.
Parasitic losses were reduced as well to get the most of every drop of diesel while meeting current emissions regulations. This was achieved through reduced and optimized piston ring tensions and coatings. Camshaft valve time was modified to reduce pumping work in the air handling system. Water pump speeds were also optimized to provide required system cooling without unnecessary coolant flow.
Kiesler said with these improvements, Cummins was able to create an engine which meets the EPA 2021 GHG Phase II requirements without having to introduce new technologies or sacrificing reliability and durability. The goal was to deliver the improvements with proven technology and designs.
To help meet the GHG emissions requirements, Cummins’ engine control module features increased computing capabilities to enable thousands of calculations required per second which are necessary to ensure compliance and run diagnostics. “All this is done while keeping the interface to the OEMs common with the EPA 2017 product,” said Kiesler.
Field noted fuel efficiency improvements up to 3.5% on the Performance Series engines and up to 1.5% for the Productivity Series have so far been seen with these new L9 engines, depending on the duty cycle. Downspeeding of the engine and reductions in parasitic losses help Cummins achieve these fuel efficiency improvements.
New highlights from Day 1 - March 8
Mack Trucks highlights MD series, Granite updates
During its press conference on March 8, Mack Trucks noted it began production of its MD Series trucks—the model which brought the company back into the medium-duty market—in September. Since then it has started delivery of the trucks to dealers and customers. According to Jonathan Randall, Mack Trucks Senior Vice President of North American Sales and Commercial Operations, there has been increased interest for the trucks and they are so far exceeding customers' and dealers' expectations.
Mack Trucks chose to re-enter the medium-duty market to offer customers a single source for all of their truck needs, and because of the stability the market typically presents. During the company's press conference, Randall noted typical annual market value for Class 6 & 7 trucks is about $100,000. Last year (2020) was an anomaly he said with the market reaching the high $70,000 range. "This year we're forecasting the market to be about $87,000," he said. "The fact is that the market is a strong market. Our customers are already operating in there and it will open new doors and new segments for Mack to penetrate in the industry."
READ MORE: Mack Re-Enters Medium-Duty Truck Market
During its press conference the company also discussed the recent updates it has made to its Mack Granite models, one of which was the introduction of Command Steer active steering. Tim Wrinkle, Construction Product Manager at Mack Trucks, said trucks with this technology are now in production and getting into customers' hands, and thus far the company has received positive feedback.
He explained the system uses multiple sensors to receive input, more than 2,000 times per second. It monitors road conditions, driver inputs and environmental elements to provide a safer driving experience. Command Steer is able to hold the lane when unexpected changes occur such as wind gusts, uneven pavement, ruts in the ground or even tire blowouts. "It also provides featherlight steering at low speeds; so light you can steer it with your finger," he said. "It minimizes the daily strain on drivers, and it's a great tool for driver retention and recruitment."
Wrinkle also noted during the press conference the company has achieved weight savings on its Mack mRIDE spring leaf over rubber block suspension; when paired with its proprietary Mack axles these weight savings can provide increased payload for customers.
Parts were integrated into the axles by casting them into the housing which Wrinkle said saves 140 lbs. with drum brakes and 146 lbs. with disc brakes. "This is now available at 40,000 lb. and 46,000 lb. suspension ratings and standard track axles," said Wrinkle.
Per Mack Trucks, the mRIDE’s parabolic springs are thickest at the center to ensure the clamp load area offers the greatest strength and are tapered to improve driver comfort. The mRIDE provides extreme articulation and constant tire contact, delivering superior traction on the rough terrain of jobsites.
The spring leaf design and V-shaped torque rods ensure stability to efficiently transmit forces into the truck’s frame. Shock absorbers, along with rubber and steel shock towers, improve ride and handling.
"This went into production in November of 2020, and is already on the job providing extra payload for our customers," concluded Wrinkle.
Buyers Products expands capacity in U.S.
Buyers Products announced it will expand its headquarter, which will include the addition of 280,000 sq. ft. of state-of-the-art warehouse space.
In addition, the company is investing in new manufacturing technology. This includes robotic welding, precision laser-cutting and fabrication automation. The company says these investments will enable it to manufacture and distribute equipment more efficiently. They will also help the company remain competitive in the global marketplace.
Expanded capacity will help Buyers Products continue to serve customers locally as well as across the globe.
Be sure to check back again tomorrow for more updates from The Work Truck Show 2021.