Freightliner unveils big rig concept showcasing future technology

Click above for a high-res gallery of the Freightliner Innovation Truck

Daimler Trucks North America has used the Mid-America Trucking Show in Kentucky to release its latest concept in commercial-grade hauling. The Innovation Truck concept takes the fuel-saving innovations introduced on the Freightliner Cascadia, already the most aerodynamic of the company's trucks, and turns them up to eleven.

Included in the aero tweaks are rear wheel fairings, underbody panels, a roof deflector and a front air splitter. Further, the side mirrors were replaced with cameras to reduce drag. Once up to speed, the Innovation Truck can lower its ride height using air bladders, further reducing fuel usage. Wireless tire pressure monitoring also sends data to an onboard navigation/infotainment screen in the cabin. Also present on the truck is Freightliner's new RunSmart Predictive Cruise control.

With such a focus on fuel savings, it's not surprising that Daimler has fitted the diesel powerplant with its BlueTec emissions after-treatment system, which injects a urea-based fluid directly into the exhaust to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Lastly, ParkSmart VHAC technology allows the truck's climate control systems to operate without running the truck's engine using electricity from a second bank of batteries.

Daimler says that the Innovation Truck concept is meant to "show our customers what they can expect from us in the near future," so we'll be on the lookout for menacing flat black semi trucks the next time we're headed out for a road trip.

[Source: Daimler]


Daimler Trucks North America Previews Latest Technologies on New Innovation Truck at Mid-America Trucking Show

PORTLAND, Ore. – March 19, 2009 – Building upon its extensive history in developing pioneering solutions, Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) is previewing the latest technologies on a new Innovation Truck at the Mid-America Trucking Show.

The Innovation Truck features advanced technologies directly from DTNA's development labs. It takes Freightliner Trucks' most aerodynamic solution – the Cascadia™ – and adds a sampling of cutting-edge advancements that will further enhance fuel economy.

"We've created the new Innovation Truck to highlight not only our existing technologies, but to show our customers what they can expect from us in the near future," said Elmar Boeckenhoff, senior vice president, Engineering and Technology for Daimler Trucks North America. "The Innovation Truck is part of our ongoing effort to shape future transportation by pushing the boundaries in engineering and technology."

A Legacy of Solutions
Since its inception more than 60 years ago, DTNA has been committed to its core values of innovation, quality and meeting customers' needs.

From its initial launch of the industry's first lightweight aluminum cab to the unveiling of the Cascadia in 2007, DTNA has continued to develop products that push the boundaries to enhance the driving experience and impact the bottom line.

"We always combine our extensive global engineering resources with our proven industry knowledge to create smart solutions," said Boeckenhoff. "We build all of our products with the customer in mind, and the Innovation Truck is no exception."

Tomorrow's Technology Today
Building on the highly successful Cascadia platform, the Innovation Truck reflects greater refinement in aerodynamics with the addition of rear wheel fairings to smooth the airflow around the rear wheels, under body panels that smooth air flow under the chassis, a roof deflector to direct air over the trailer, and a front air splitter incorporated into the front bumper to pass air around the truck.

The Innovation Truck also replaces the mirrors with side view cameras to further reduce drag. The camera system improves the field of view, eliminates blind spots, and reduces the typical "fish eye" effect.

Together these enhancements improve the airflow over, under, and around the vehicle – resulting in further fuel savings.

"What makes the Innovation Truck so aerodynamic is not just its shape, but the entire package – from bumper to tail lights," said Boeckenhoff.

Mechatronic Systems
Mechatronics integrates the electronic and mechanical worlds into systems that help to improve vehicle function and driver interaction.

One such system is the RunSmart Predictive Cruise™ system. A world premiere for heavy-duty trucking industry, this system offers significant fuel savings by combining the latest in GPS technology with digital mapping to provide a 3D profile of the road ahead. The truck evaluates the upcoming road profile more than one mile in advance and determines the most fuel efficient vehicle speed.

"The RunSmart Predictive Cruise system showcases our commitment to shape the future of transportation," said Boeckenhoff. "And with Freightliner, the future starts right now."

Chassis Systems
Further pushing the aerodynamic envelope, the Innovation Truck integrates a Dual Ride Height system that, at highway speeds, lowers the tractor height, reducing under chassis drag. This system utilizes a proprietary front air suspension in conjunction with Freightliner's popular rear air suspension.

"Aerodynamic drag reduction is at the foundation of DTNA's engineering efforts, but decreasing friction can also result in fuel economy savings," said Boeckenhoff.

The Innovation Truck is configured with a single drive axle that is complemented with a load management system that can transfer weight to the drive axle in low traction situations. This configuration also reduces weight and cost.

Tire pressure monitoring is another important part of keeping a truck as fuel efficient as possible, and the Innovation Truck features the newest option – a wireless SmarTire tire pressure monitoring system integrated with a Lectronix T7000 navigation/infotainment unit. This system not only more accurately reports tire pressure, but it also features an integrated display that simplifies pressure checks.

The Innovation Truck is EPA 2010 emissions compliant using Daimler's proven BlueTec® emissions technology. The exhaust after-treatment system is packaged under the right-hand step, and a diesel exhaust fluid reservoir is mounted on the left hand forward frame rail. BlueTec provides a solution for the new emission standards while improving fuel economy.

Power Systems
The ParkSmart™ HVAC System featured on the Innovation Truck is now available for the Cascadia. The system provides an integrated system solution for emission-free cooling and highly efficient heating without engine idling. Operating from a second bank of batteries, the ParkSmart system provides 8-10 hours of cooling and up to 34 hours in the heating mode, using a diesel-fired coolant heater.

The advantage of an electrically-driven HVAC system is that shore power extends operating time while eliminating emissions. As showcased on the Innovation Truck, a fuel cell that produces 3-5 kilowatts of power is enough power to operate convenience items during a 34-hour reset period.

"While the concept of the Innovation Truck is forward-thinking, many of these technologies are available right now or will be within this year," said Boeckenhoff. "We at Daimler Trucks North America are committed to leading the way into the future of trucking with outstanding fuel efficiency and customer-focused, innovative technologies. With us, the future is closer than you may think."

To view the Innovation Truck, visit Booth #30135 at MATS.

Click here to download images associated with the press release

For more information, call or visit your nearby Freightliner Trucks dealership or go to

Freightliner Trucks is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, headquartered in Portland, Ore., and is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets Class 3-8 vehicles and is a Daimler company, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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