When given a choice between a room with a king or smaller beds, the answer is obvious for most: you choose the king for best comfort and space. That's exactly the kind of thinking that went into Peterbilt Motors Co.'s new Model 579 Ultraloft integrated sleeper on-highway truck, which the company designed to top the industry in offering improved living and working quarters for long-haul drivers and driver teams.
That includes more storage — and in more convenient places — as well as more power outlets, room for up to a 32-in. flat screen TV and a wardrobe/storage closet that can accommodate large shirts and jackets without having to fold them with 42 in. of hanging storage. Upon entering the Ultraloft's cab, even taller drivers will immediately notice they can stand up freely — the ceiling provides more than 8 ft. of standing height and gives the truck's interior an almost cavernous appearance, and the cab is quieter than the standard sleeper model as well.
The Model 579 Ultraloft also boasts efficiency improvements, with a 2% aerodynamic improvement and about 95 lbs. weight savings overall compared with the 579 standard sleeper. All Ultraloft trucks get an 18-in fairing with 4-in. rubber extension end at the back of the cab and a new airfoil-shaped sun visor, with trim rails around the doors and windows omitted to smooth airflow and maximize aerodynamics.
In terms of additional convenience, both the driver and passenger up front can reach up above their respective side windows to new storage compartments with push-button locking, and there are additional storage compartments above the windshield. A door lock button has been added near the bunks — it locks but doesn't unlock the doors, thus preventing accidental unlocking while sleeping — and a storage compartment near the top bunk is large enough to accommodate two CPAP machines with power outlets for both, should drivers require those.
In another unique new feature, a foldaway ladder allowing access to the upper bunk in the double-bunk configuration supports up to 400 lbs. and locks away into the bunk's frame completely for "zero intrusion" into available space when not in use.
Watch below as Wesley Slavin, marketing manager for Peterbilt on-highway products, walks through a number of interior features of the 579 Ultraloft:
The new 579 Ultraloft, which is slated to begin production this summer, arrives as the heavy duty trucking industry has been increasing its focus on regional haul tractors and "hub and spoke" delivery models. Peterbilt addresses the other side of things by upping the ante for long-haul trucks and what they can offer drivers, with a larger, more convenient space to do their jobs.
The company engaged hundreds of truck drivers in the Ultraloft's design, polling them on their needs and what limitations or problems they face with their vehicles and having them test out different prototypes to see what would work best. "We got to see them, and they got to see how they'd interact with our designs," said Scott Newhouse, chief engineer at Peterbilt.
In a telling bit of feedback, when showing some customers the 579 Ultraloft, one observer in a group checking out the interior was surprised and commented, "There are seven of us in here," Newhouse noted.
The goal was to craft a truck that drivers would place at the top of their wish-list — an important potential tool in driver recruitment and retention.
It's a key factor to consider. In what Peterbilt is predicting will be a very strong year for Class 8 truck sales in the United States and Canada, the company noted that the persistent driver shortage is an element that's "keeping the lid on" fleet expansion somewhat, making driver appeal all the more relevant.
Additional features of the Model 579 Ultraloft include:
• Up to 70 cu. ft. of storage space available in single-bunk configuration
• Four LED dome lights with three directional spot/reading lights in cab
• Large, tilting upper windows allow more natural light and ventilation
• Lower or single bed in sleeper includes premium coil-spring 42-in. by 85-in. mattress
• Split-folding upper bunk provides a 36-in. by 82-in. second mattress or additional storage space
• Floor-to-ceiling distance of more than 8 ft.
• More headroom in double bunks, with 48 in. for the lower bunk and 39 in. for the upper bunk, making for easier ingress/egress and improved sitting comfort
• Large shelf can hold up to 1.1 cu. ft. microwave
• Six 12-volt outlets, three 110-volt outlets and two USB ports, depending on configuration
Click through our slideshow for interior and exterior views of the new Ultraloft.