SUNNYVALE, CA. As Peterbilt Motors Co. finds itself in the middle of what is shaping up to be a record-breaking year, the company invited trucking journalists to the site of where some of the industry's next big breakthroughs are likely to happen.
The June 27 media briefing took place at the PACCAR Innovation Center, which opened its doors last summer. Jake Montero, general manager of the 26,000-square-foot facility, said the Silicon Valley location provides PACCAR the chance to be at the forefront of automotive technology. (Editor’s note: A more detailed look inside the PACCAR Innovation Center will be posted next week).
The event was the first opportunity for Jason Skoog to speak with the trucking press since becoming Peterbilt’s new general manager on April 1. He has been with PACCAR since 1994, and replaced Kyle Quinn, who was named PACCAR’s chief technology officer.
Skoog said strong order intake that picked up in the latter part of 2017 has translated into a “great first half of 2018.” He projected 2018 industrywide Class 8 retail sales for U.S. and Canada between 265,000 and 285,000, finishing potentially as the third-strongest year ever.
Skoog added Peterbilt is on pace to top its record of a 15.3% Class 8 market share, set in 2017. It is also likely to surpass its market share in medium-duty market.
On July 2, the company goes into wider production of the Model 579 UltraLoft, initially announced in February. Skoog said there are already about 2,500 orders, and the company is planning a “rational” production schedule as it fully ramps up. He also said Peterbilt was working closely with suppliers to manage costs and avoid any possible shortages due to the high demand across the industry.
Scott Newhouse, chief engineer of Peterbilt, said the coming years will see more technology offerings, such as lane-keeping assist and platooning. These technologies “are the building blocks” for more active safety and automated techonologies in the future.
The daylong event offered Peterbilt a chance to showcase a range of products. For example, the company offered ride-and-drives of an all-electric Peterbilt 579 that was built in collaboration with TransPower. The vehicle is expected to be put into the service at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in the future.
On the maintenance front, it showed its Augmented Technology (AR) Tech tool that has been shown in a pilot program to “simplify and speed repairs,” Skoog said.
It offers color-coded 3-D images of harnesses and pin locations on a tablet, allowing technicians to better troubleshoot problems. AR Tech is expected to roll out to the entire Peterbilt dealer network next year, and expand into other maintenance areas such as air hoses.
Peterbilt announced the Bendix Wingman Fusion safety technology will be standard on all Model 579 trucks built starting in July. The system combines camera, radar, and braking systems to provide collision mitigation and driver safety alerts.
Peterbilt also announced a new alert switch and the pass-through seat for its 567 and 579 models.
The alert switch was designed with input from the Women in Trucking Association. Located in the sleeper control panel, is an alarm that behaves like a panic button on a car, flashing external lights and sounding alarms when activated.
The pass-through seat was designed to help drivers when they are packing vehicles. The storage cabinet is accessible from both the inside and outside of the cab, allowing drivers to load the cabinet before entering the vehicle.
In addition, Peterbilt announced the PACCAR MX-11 engine is now available with the PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission.
“When combined with the MX-11 engine, the PACCAR automated transmission offers superior drivability, with industry-leading maneuverability at low speeds,” said Wesley Slavin, Peterbilt’s on-highway marketing manager.