Whether a large-scale attack on infrastructure or a smaller-scale attack on individual trucks, how real is the threat of cyberattacks in the trucking industry? - Graphic: HDT
Whether a large-scale attack on infrastructure or a smaller-scale attack on individual trucks, how real is the threat of cyberattacks in the trucking industry?
Graphic: HDT

In May, a ransomware cyberattack forced the shutdown of a major U.S. pipeline between Texas and New York, causing disruption to the supply of diesel and other petroleum products.

The event even prompted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to create more flexibility for motor carriers and drivers hauling these products to the affected states.

Whether a large-scale attack like this one, or a smaller-scale attack on individual trucks, how real is the threat of cyberattacks in the trucking industry? Heavy Duty Trucking has gathered up some of the top cybersecurity-related articles into one place for quick reference:

June 30, 2021 • by Vesna Brajkovic • HDT

Cummins displayed a hydrogen-fuel-cell concept vehicle at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in 2019. - Photo: Deborah Lockridge
Cummins displayed a hydrogen-fuel-cell concept vehicle at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in 2019.
Photo: Deborah Lockridge

You don’t have to look very hard at all to be inundated by news about electric cars and buses and trucks these days. In the four-wheel world, some manufacturers plan to offer predominantly electric powertrains within the decade or nearly so. By 2025, Volvo aims for 50% of its cars to be “pure electric,” the rest plug-in hybrids. In Norway — a rich oil-producing nation — the majority of cars sold today are already electric.

The electric storm won’t slow down, and it’s just as strong in the trucking universe. But Daimler and Volvo recently put the hydrogen fuel cell option more firmly on the truck map than it’s ever been. (More on that in a minute.)

You won’t catch me owning an electric personal vehicle any time soon, I promise. It’s about the range, or dramatic lack of it. I just read one car-maker’s attempt to assuage range fears, which suggested that its car’s 250-mile maximum one-charge driving distance would be fine for long trips. When you hit that max, you just stop for a meal and wait 40 minutes for a fast charger to give you 80% of a full charge, they say.

Gimme a break.

First off, getting 250 miles out of a charge assumes warm weather, with limited use of air conditioning and electric bits like headlights, and certainly no trailer being towed. Try getting that far in winter when battery life shrinks like mad. No, thanks. I routinely drive from my Toronto-area base to Michigan and Indiana and such places, and an electric car just wouldn’t cut it.

Just take a Detroit jaunt. For me, it’s an easy-peasy 290-mile run with no stops. Do I want to gamble that I can stretch my range by 40 miles? Or shut it down and wait 40 minutes when I’m less than an hour away from the end? Assuming I could find a vacant fast charger.

Columbus, Indiana, is something like 625 miles for me, usually a straight-through run. In ideal conditions, an electric vehicle with that 250-mile range would demand three stops, again assuming fast chargers. As things stand now, my Explorer needs one fuel stop for five minutes or so and maybe another 10 minutes to grab a hamburger to eat on the fly. The extreme hassle of stopping three times to recharge, not to mention wasting a couple of hours while plugged in, would drive me nuts. That nine-hour trip would become 11-12 hours at least.

In other words, again, an utterly firm no thanks.

But hey, this is about trucking. In our game we have an advantage in many applications where the required range is predictable. Urban and close-regional freight work, towing, utilities, and such where the truck is likely shut down overnight are all fine for battery-electric vehicles.

But when we get thousands of cars and buses and trucks demanding power from the grid at the same time, where are we then? Billions of dollars will have to be invested over the next 20 or 30 years to make it all work. I’m not even sure that’s possible. And if the power isn’t produced by sustainable, environmentally responsible means, what do we gain?

Hydrogen Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells, on the other hand, don’t come with such baggage, though an expensive infrastructure does have to be developed. Crucially for trucks, a fill-up takes no longer than diesel does.

“Hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric trucks will be key for enabling CO2-neutral transportation in the future,” said Martin Daum, chief of Daimler Truck. “In combination with pure battery-electric drives, it enables us to offer our customers the best genuinely CO2-neutral vehicle options, depending on the application.”

He was speaking in late spring during the formal launch of a new fuel-cell joint venture between Daimler Truck and the Volvo Group. The two companies outlined their “industry-first commitment to accelerate the use of hydrogen-based fuel cells for long-haul trucks and beyond” with the new venture, called cellcentric.

They say fuel-cell electric and battery-electric options are complementary, which they obviously are, if you accept that the grid and infrastructure challenges can be met.

Daimler Truck is testing its second-generation fuel-cell electric truck. - Photo: Daimler Truck
Daimler Truck is testing its second-generation fuel-cell electric truck.
Photo: Daimler Truck

According to a press release, the other major European truck manufacturers, backed by Daimler and Volvo, are calling for the setup of around 300 “high-performance” hydrogen refuelling stations suitable for heavy-duty vehicles by 2025 and of around 1,000 hydrogen refuelling stations no later than 2030 in Europe. Daimler and Volvo aim to start with customer tests of fuel-cell trucks in about three years and to be in series production of such trucks during the second half of this decade.

This joint effort does not mean that the two manufacturers are joining forces to produce trucks together. All vehicle-related activities will be carried out independently from each other, and the companies will remain competitors in all vehicle and product ranges, particularly in the integration of fuel cells in their trucks.

Cellcentric is a huge step forward in the advancement of fuel cells in Europe, where environmental goals are far more rigidly respected than they are on this side of the Atlantic, but of course the technologies it develops will be applied elsewhere.

Fuel-Cell Trucks in North America

Here in North America, Daimler and Volvo’s involvement in fuel-cell-electric trucks remains to be seen, but there are many others in the picture.

Cummins, for example, is a leader. Among other projects, which include a demo fuel-cell truck running in California and a joint development with Navistar, it bought the Canadian company Hydrogenics two years ago and has since built a 20-megawatt PEM electrolyser system to generate green hydrogen. It’s the largest such operation in the world. Installed at the Air Liquide hydrogen production facility in Bécancour, Quebec, it can produce over 3,000 tons of hydrogen annually using clean hydropower. The technical details don’t matter here. Just know that this solves the challenge of how to store hydrogen.

Kenworth, Toyota, and Shell have teamed up with public agencies in California to test hydrogen-fuel cell trucks at the Port of Los Angeles with four fleets (including Toyota’s own private fleet.) The Class 8 fuel cell electric trucks will have the ability to travel 300 miles on one charge of hydrogen.

Hyzon is a new entrant into the hydrogen-fuel-cell truck market. - Photo: Hyzon
Hyzon is a new entrant into the hydrogen-fuel-cell truck market.
Photo: Hyzon

An interesting new entrant is Hyzon Motors, which aims to build up to 100 hydrogen production hubs across the United States and globally. Each hub will convert organic waste in nearly every form into locally produced, renewable hydrogen for Hyzon’s zero-emission commercial vehicles, including garbage trucks. The first hub is planned at a landfill in the San Francisco Bay Area and is expected to be commissioned in 2022.

“In our considered opinion, the slam-dunk use case for hydrogen is heavy, high-utilization vehicles,” said company CEO Craig Knight in an interview with my colleague Jim Park. “A big vehicle that gets driven many hours a day is a bloody hard thing to get off fossil fuels without hydrogen. So we focus on those heavy kind of payload-imperative type vehicles, where they’re paid to carry weight.”

It’s ready to put trucks on the road this year.

Locking It In  • July 12, 2021 • by Rolf Lockwood • 

A blue sleeper semi parked on street
Transition Trucking

Kenworth, FASTPORT and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring our Heroes initiative are joining together for the sixth consecutive year to discover America’s top rookie military veteran driver, who has made the transition from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces to driving for a commercial fleet.

Under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program, Kenworth will again provide the top award – a Kenworth T680 equipped with a 76-inch sleeper and the PaccarPowertrain featuring the PaccarMX-13 engine, PaccarTX-12 automated transmission, and PaccarDX-40 tandem rear axles.

“Kenworth’s ongoing participation in the Transition Trucking program is one way to recognize the importance of our veterans and thank them for their service. We urge trucking fleets to nominate their best rookie drivers who have served our country and encourage service members transitioning from the military to consider the trucking industry as their future career,” says Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. 

“An estimated 200,000 veterans transition from the military into the private sector each year. FASTPORT’s mission is to educate and inform veterans about career opportunities in the nation’s trucking industry. The ongoing driver shortage makes recruiting from the military more important than ever before. We look forward to awarding a well-deserving veteran with a Kenworth T680 in the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” program this year,” says Brad Bentley, FASTPORT president.

“The trucking industry thrived last year despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, proving its position as a sustainable career pathway,” says Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes. “The 2021 ‘Transition Trucking’ award campaign is another opportunity to highlight the impact veterans are making in the transportation industry and introduce a new generation of veterans to the real economic opportunity a career in trucking can represent.”

The top driver will be determined by an expert panel of judges. To qualify, drivers must meet three eligibility requirements:

  • Must have been active military or member of the National Guard or Reserve.
  • Graduated from PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school, with a valid CDL.
  • First hired in a trucking position between Jan. 1, 2021, and July 31, 2021.

The nomination window opened June 10 and the final deadline is July 31, 2021. Full criteria and online nomination forms can be found on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” website (www.transitiontrucking.org).        

TRUCKS, PARTS, SERVICE ™ Staff (TPS)Jun 29, 2021

Kenworth 52 In Sleeper

Kenworth has debuted a 52-in. flat roof sleeper especially targeted for Class 8 crane, pump, car hauler and other applications that may require a low roof.

With the addition of the 52-in. flat roof sleeper and the Kenworth AG400L rear suspension’s new 6.5-in. ride height – two inches lower than previously available – Kenworth says it has created a perfect combination for low roof applications. The new specification and sleeper are available for the Kenworth T680, T880 and W990 models.

“Truck height is extremely critical in many low-roof operations,” says Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “The 52-in. flat roof sleeper, plus the other supporting options, will help our customers specify their trucks to meet the needs of their low-profile applications.” 

Additionally, to support the new application, the W990 added a righthand side horizontal tailpipe under the DPF/SCR to match the current T680 and T880 offering. An under rail DPF/SCR exhaust system is also available on the T680 and T880 models. 

To further reduce overall truck height, Kenworth says the set forward front axle W990 and T880S models have a 5-in. drop front axle option that lowers the front of the truck by 1.5 in. over the standard 3.5 in. drop. Kenworth low-profile tire options include 275/80R22.5 front tires and 255/70R22.5 rear tires, 295/60R22.5 front and rear tires. The smaller 22.5-in. diameter fuel tanks allow for maximum ground clearance.

Marker lights, beacons, airhorns and vertical stacks are also available, making the flat roof sleeper an excellent option for image-conscious fleets and truck operators, the company says.

Finally, the flat roof sleeper model is equipped with the 2.1-meter wide cab providing a premium driver experience. Key features include fully trimmed premium interior, 56-in. interior cab height, triple-sealed door for a quiet ride, 15-in. Digital Display, Kenworth SmartWheel available with cruise and radio control on the steering wheel, and under door light which illuminates the steps and ground. Also available are the latest driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation, Kenworth says. Remote PTO controls also are available from the factory for easy upfit and a full truck kit provides air and light lines to the end of the frame. 

Truck, Parts, Service Staff (TPS) May 27, 2021

Paccar unveils 2021 MX engines

Posted: May 11, 2021 in Kenworth
2021 PACCAR MX-13 Engine 2
2021 PACCAR MX-13 Engine 2

With the launch of Kenworth’s new T680 Next Generation truck model, also comes the 2021 Paccar MX-11 and Paccar MX-13 engines, giving even better performance and efficiency to Kenworth’s Class 8 truck lineup, Paccar says.

Both engines feature re-designed internal components to enhance fuel economy — up to 2.4 percent in the Paccar MX-13, and 3.4 percent in the Paccar MX-11 — depending on the application and specification. The Paccar MX-11 can now be spec’d with a higher horsepower rating of up to 445 hp at 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque @ 900 RPM. The Paccar MX-13 can be spec’d up to 510 hp at 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque at 1,000 RPM, the company says.

These new engine developments make Kenworth trucks more productive. When paired with the 12-speed Paccar TX-12 transmission, Kenworth predictive cruise control and Paccar DX-40 axles, the performance is enhanced even further.

Helping drive fuel efficiency improvements is a number of refinements that all come together to maximize performance. The engines feature optimized combustion with multi-pulse fuel injection. A smaller, more efficient turbocharger boosts power and improves responsiveness. And an enhanced piston design has added features to reduce frictional losses. Paccar adds that its next generation aftertreatment system completes the system to further reduce particulates and NOx without sacrificing power or MPGs.

Paccar says the engines were updated for added reliability. An enhanced fully-encapsulated engine harness protects against the elements, while connections were reduced between the engine and vehicle. Inside the engine, several structural enhancements were added to strengthen components and optimize rigidity.

To make fuel filter changes more efficient, Paccar now mounts primary and secondary fuel filters on the engine, instead of on the chassis. And, a 12-volt fuel heater comes standard for improved cold weather performance.

Extended service intervals of up to 75,000 miles for both the oil and fuel filter combined with major components warranty, which is 5 years or 500,000 miles, results in improved performance and service intervals.

TRUCKS, PARTS, SERVICE ™ Staff (TPS)May 07, 2021

Both aluminum and steel wheels can work in any trucking application you can name. So deciding which is right for your operations is often a highly specialized decision. - Photo: Accuride
Both aluminum and steel wheels can work in any trucking application you can name. So deciding which is right for your operations is often a highly specialized decision. Photo: Accurid

Once upon a time, truck maintenance managers didn’t put much thought into the wheels on their trucks. These days, the choice of wheels is more complicated. Wheels need to be as light as possible to minimize weight and maximize fuel economy. Uptime is critical, so they need to be as maintenance-free as possible. On top of that, fleets need to think about how wheel choice will be affected by new technologies such as “smart” wheel hubs and braking systems, as well as tire pressure monitoring and inflation systems.

Jamie Hagen is the chief executive officer and chief driver for Hell Bent Xpress, a small fleet running bulk haulers and a new dry van fleet out of Aberdeen, South Dakota. He’s a “social media influencer” who shares his tests of the latest technology and his quest for always-higher fuel economy to a large following.

“I spec aluminum wheels for everything on my bulk haulers and run them with super singles on top,” Hagen says. “I want those rigs to be as light as possible for fuel economy. But recently, I’ve been buying new dry vans, and they’re coming from the factory with steel wheels on them. I’ve been buying aluminum wheels here and there, and will eventually put them on the dry vans. In this case, it’s as much about maintenance as it is weight. Up here in South Dakota, those trailers can sit idle for long months in the winter and they go forever between wash bays. So, I know that sooner or later they’re going to start to rust out on me. In fact, I’ve already got rust on some of the new trailer wheels – and they’re only about six months old.”

Hagen says aluminum wheels don’t seem to make much of a difference in his fuel economy numbers, although he’s never done a serious comparative study between the two.

“Mainly this is based on application. My bulk haulers are always maxed out at 80,000 pounds,” he explains. “Whereas my dry van trucks average 70,000 pounds per run. So, as far as I can tell, the difference in vehicle weight really negates any advantage I’d see in terms of fuel economy.”

Lighter wheels, better fuel economy?

The North American Council for Freight Efficiency says lightweighting technologies save 0.5% to 0.6% of fuel per 1,000 pounds of weight reduction, notes Mike Palladino, director of sales and product management at Accuride.

“We can use this formula to get an idea of what going from Accuride’s lightest steel wheel of 65 pounds down to our 38-pound aluminum wheel would save a single truck,” Palladino says. “According to our calculations, that spec change would cut 450 pounds off the truck, which translates into a fuel economy increase of 0.2%, assuming the total vehicle weight decreases.”

For bulk haulers like Hagen who often replace that weight saved with more payload, that equation isn’t valid. For those fleets, the extra payload capacity drives wheel choices.

“Weight reduction has been an ever-present goal for truck wheel manufacturers,” says Amy Gross, marketing manager of Alcoa Wheels. “We continue to innovate with manufacturing processes and metal technology, finding new opportunities for weight reduction without sacrificing performance and durability.”

Gross says aluminum wheels have come a long way over the past 75 years, with some models shedding up to 14 pounds per wheel. She cites the Alcoa ULT39x, in the 22.5-by-8.25-inch style so common in trucking, which dropped to 39 pounds in 2020 – compared to 53 pounds in 1986. The load rating has increased from 7,300 pounds to 7,400 pounds. “In essence,” she says, “the wheel got lighter and stronger at the same time.”

Beyond the metal choice

Wheels are evolving in other ways, too. Hagen recently spotted something he’s interested in learning more about.

“I saw a story that Alcoa has come out with a new, two-air-stem wheel, specifically designed for TPMS,” he says. Tire pressure monitoring systems are standard on all his trucks and trailers. But the valve stem cap is a critical component that physically connects the tire to the system.

“You can take a TPMS cap off easily enough and put air in a tire, and put it back on again,” he explains. “But I’ve already had a couple of drivers lose the caps. Once the cap is gone, the TPMS is useless. So, I love the idea of having two separate valve stems – one dedicated to the TPMS, and the other dedicated to inflating or deflating the tire.”

Steel wheels are generally less expensive than aluminum but require more maintenance over their working lives. - Photo: Accuride
Steel wheels are generally less expensive than aluminum but require more maintenance over their working lives. Photo: Accuride

Alcoa’s Gross is happy to confirm.

“Dual-valve Alcoa wheels offer a second valve stem to attach valve-mounted tire pressure monitors, where they can be left alone and the other valve can be used for airing the tire, limiting the chance for sensor damage.”

She also cites a new and improved hub bore technology on Alcoa wheels. A unique contour limits the contact area of the wheel to the hub where corrosion is likely to build up and cause the wheel to be hard to remove.

Costs to consider

According to Alcoa, more than 70% of new Class 8 trucks are being spec’d with aluminum wheels from the factory.

“Gradually over the past few decades, fleets and OEMs have come to realize the benefit of aluminum wheels versus steel to aid in lightweighting, maintenance improvements and aesthetics,” Gross says. “The aluminum wheel penetration has been increasing steadily.”

Matt Brest, senior sales engineer of commercial vehicle and military wheels for Maxion, says the market share between steel and aluminum is very different depending on the class of vehicle and what part of the vehicle the wheel is on.

“It also depends on the application,” he says. “For Class 8 tractors, it’s roughly 80% aluminum and 20% steel. However, on trailers, the numbers flip to 80% steel and 20% aluminum. This is for the market as a whole. However, there are segments like bulk haulers, where every piece of the vehicle uses as much aluminum as possible because the payback is so great. For medium-duty trucks like Class 4-6, steel is still the predominant solution” at about 90%.

The steel-vs.-aluminum question is common enough that Alcoa Wheels developed a program to help fleets decide which option is best for their operations.

“To prove the value of aluminum versus steel wheels, we often provide a fleet with a set of wheels to test, in addition to providing an ROI model,” Gross says. Fleets are asked to benchmark and evaluate the gains in tire life, torque retention, corrosion reduction, image advancement, ride improvement and ease of maintenance.

Accuride’s Palladino notes that both steel wheels and aluminum wheels will work for the same vocations.

“Whether or not a fleet will decide to spec steel wheels or aluminum wheels will be based upon their own opinions, and what is important to them.”

He says this includes issues such as lightweighting, financial impact, aesthetics, and driver preference. For those reasons, he adds, Accuride is the only wheel manufacturer in North America that supplies both steel and aluminum wheels for all vocations.

“Some fleets value weight savings the most,” Palladino says. “Others prefer the cost of a steel wheel. Accuride manufactures the lightest aluminum wheel in the market at 38 pounds and the lightest steel wheel in the market at 65 pounds, so we can cover any application or vocation in trucking today.”

Maxion’s Brest says there’s another reason we may see more aluminum wheels in the future.

“The other big reason for reduced weight is the obvious push toward electrification in the industry now. Batteries are currently very heavy.  So, in order to maintain payload capacity, OEMs are looking to reduce weight in other areas. Wheels have been able to reduce their weight every few years with advances in materials and processing.”

Price remains an issue, too.

“Upfront costs can be an issue for aluminum wheels, and they can vary between each OEM,” Alcoa’s Gross says. “Oftentimes it is easy to prove an ROI based on productivity gains. For aluminum wheels, that includes a reduction in maintenance costs, increased resale value, and even driver retention.”

Palladino cautions that COVID-19 economic factors have affected pricing.

“With the slow recovery of the economy since the height of the pandemic, raw material prices have been in extreme fluctuation,” he says. “Steel wheel prices have nearly tripled since late 2020 and aluminum has seen a dramatic increase as well. It is important to keep these current cost increases in mind during the spec’ing process.”

April 23, 2021 • by Jack Roberts

The growing lineup of Paccar Powertrain components offered in Kenworth heavy- and medium-duty trucks now have a new set of names. The new naming convention is consistent for each powertrain component segment, the company says, and follows a similar naming style as the Paccar MX and PX engines, and provides cohesive Paccar Powertrain product branding. The Paccar Powertrain products feature the Paccar MX-13, Paccar MX-11, Paccar PX-9 and Paccar PX-7 engines; Paccar TX-12 automated and Paccar TX-8 automatic transmissions; and Paccar DX-40 drive axle and Paccar FX-20 front axle.


The Ford F-600 Super Duty chassis cab was named Work Truck’s Medium-Duty Truck of the Year for 2021.

Selected from a field of 14 tough contenders, Work Truck readers selected the Ford F-600 Super Duty chassis cab as the truck that best fit their fleet requirements, including application effectiveness, durability, quality, servicing, maintenance, and lifecycle costs.

“We’re honored that fleet customers chose the new F-600 Super Duty chassis cab as Work Truck magazine’s 2021 Medium Duty Truck of the year. We developed the unique F-600 in response to customer needs for a truck with Class 6 capability in a more manageable Class 5 package,” said Nathan Oscarson, Ford commercial truck brand manager. “F-600 is slotted between our F-550 Super Duty and F-650 Medium-Duty trucks, which I’m proud to say, were the winners of this award in 2019 and 2020. F-600 has the familiar size, interior, and controls of an F-550, but can manage larger upfits, carry more equipment, and tow heavier loads than any other Super Duty chassis cab its size.”

The award was announced at The Work Truck Show 2021 on March 8.

“Ford’s F-600 is an adaptable truck that earned its place as the 2021 Medium-Duty Truck of the Year. As always, this award is fully fleet-focused, with our Work Truck readers naming Ford No. 1 once again in 2021,” said Lauren Fletcher, executive editor of Work Truck magazine.

This is the eighth time Ford has been honored with Work Truck’s Medium-Duty Truck of the Year Award.

“Thank you to the hard-working men and women who voted for F-600, which is Built for America at Ohio Assembly Plant,” Oscarson added.


Under the Hood

The Ford F-600 delivers the capability of a Class 6 truck — including a maximum GVWR of 22,000 pounds — in a familiar and easy-to-manage Class 5 Super Duty package.

Positioned between F-550 Super Duty and F-650 Pro Loader Medium Duty truck, F-600 has the familiar size, interior, and controls of an F-550, with a step-up height that’s only 3 millimeters higher.

Additionally, the F-600 uses higher-capacity wheels and tires, upgraded driveshaft mounts, an upgraded rear axle and brake rotor materials, and strategically placed frame reinforcements behind the cab to deliver Class 6 capability in a compact Class 5 package.

F-600 comes standard with a class-exclusive 7.3L V-8 gasoline engine. The 6.7L V-8 Power Stroke diesel engine is available. Both powertrains are built by Ford.As F-600 enters its second year of production, the Ford TorqShift 10-speed automatic transmission comes with a 10-bolt design live drive power takeoff (PTO) provision standard on both powertrains. The power takeoff provision works with aftermarket power takeoff units to drive auxiliary equipment anytime the engine is running, either in stationary or mobile mode.

In stationary mode, it is rated to handle up to 300 lb.-ft. of torque. F-600 equipped with the diesel engine offers split-shaft PTO capability that makes it possible to run two pieces of auxiliary equipment at the same time when the vehicle is stopped.

With the 6.7L V-8 Power Stroke diesel engine, F-600 delivers gooseneck towing capacity of 34,500 pounds and a maximum GCWR of 43,000 pounds.The trucks are available in regular cab configuration with a choice of four wheelbases, two- or four-wheel drive, and three fuel tank configurations. F-600 is upfit-ready with six factory-installed overhead upfitter switches, a programmable upfitter interface module, and the same cab-to-axle dimension as F-550.

“The F-600 gives our customers the capability and capacity of a traditional Class 6 truck, in the familiar and nimble envelope of Super Duty. All in all, the F-600 is a great vehicle for our customers, but also a great platform for upfitting and work equipment integration.  Ford really hit the target with the F-600,” said Mandar Dighe, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Knapheide Manufacturing.


Technology to the Rescue

F-600 offers helpful driver-assist technology including available Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning, which can help drivers avoid or mitigate collisions; auto high beam headlamps; and audible lane departure warning, which scans the vehicle position between the lines in the road and informs drivers who edge out of their lane with an audible alert.

A standard embedded modem with 4G LTE can provide Wi-Fi for up to 10 devices to help keep drivers and crews connected. Ford Telematics and Ford Data Services are available to help customers operate their fleets more efficiently.

Ford Telematics and Data Services enable fleet managers to enhance uptime and asset utilization, optimize running costs, improve driver behavior, and protect their fleets using Ford OEM-grade telematics software, integrating with the existing telematics service provider, or taking vehicle data directly into their own IT systems.

by Work Truck Staff

Kenworth General Manager and Paccar Vice President Kevin Baney speaks to journalists at the launch of the OEM’s new medium-duty truck line in Phoenix, Arizona on April 1. - Photo: Jack Roberts
Kenworth General Manager and Paccar Vice President Kevin Baney speaks to journalists at the launch of the OEM’s new medium-duty truck line in Phoenix, Arizona on April 1. Photo: Jack Roberts

Standing in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, on April 1, preparing for the second big Kenworth truck launch in three weeks, the OEM’s Chief Executive Officer Kevin Baney seemed relaxed and eager to put the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic slowdown behind him, and focus on a brighter future ahead.

But before sitting down with HDT for a one-on-one interview to discuss the future, he first briefed transportation journalists attending the launch of Kenworth’s new medium-duty truck line on the latest news concerning his take on a serious microchip shortage that has hobbled North American truck production over the past few weeks.

The current microchip shortage is the result of several factors, from the pandemic to the weather, but so far, Kenworth has managed this relatively minor crisis well, Baney said, while noting that he believes the situation will soon be corrected with only minimal production disruptions.

“This chip shortage is primarily centered in Taiwan, where the bulk of microchips are manufactured, as a result of the pandemic,” Baney noted. “However, it was water damage at shipping facilities in Austin, Texas, coming in through Mexico, which ruined entire shipments of chips already shipped to the U.S. from overseas that created the short-term supply issue we’re facing now.”

Baney added that while demand for microchips has skyrocketed globally — along with sales of consumer electronic devices as people purchased new gadgets to help them pass time while in quarantine — truck OEMs, which purchase a relatively low volume of chips compared to automotive and consumer electronic manufacturers, were quick to feel the supply chain pinch. In response, Baney said Kenworth and parent company Paccar have been reaching out daily to Tier One suppliers to understand the current supply chain situation and make sure any chips that are delivered are focused on automated manual transmission, ADS modules and other critical production components for trucks.

“During the winter storm that hit Texas, we were forced to shut down truck production briefly to deal with the microchip shortage,” he added. “But we haven’t been in a position to do that since. And I feel like we’re on our way back to full production before too much longer.

Baney had some additional thoughts on the current microchip shortage, as well as the outlook for the North American trucking industry in general, as well as thoughts on current technology trends later in the morning as he talked with HDT.

Q:  What’s your general assessment of the North American trucking industry as we start to move out of the pandemic and (hopefully) return to some sense of normalcy this year?

A: In general, business is good. As a country and an industry, we did all the things we needed to last year during the pandemic. And for Kenworth, our focus last year was very clear: The safety of our employees was paramount. But secondly, we knew that trucking was an essential industry that was critical for getting the U.S., Canada and Mexico through the pandemic. And we viewed ourselves in support role for the fleets and drivers on the front lines, moving freight. Our priority was to make sure they had the trucks, parts and services they needed to keep moving freight. Now, as we transition past the pandemic, we’re starting to see the market overall increase. Orders are strong.

Q: But we’re not quite out of the woods yet, are we? Suddenly issues like this microchip shortage pop up out of nowhere.

A: Yes. As the recovery ramps up, the demand for chips, which was already at a premium, went up as well. And then the winter storm hit. So right now, we have to make sure our manufacturing strategy is right and adjust it according to the microchip supply. And it’s not simple due to the shortages. We could justify build-rate increases right now. But we’re holding our production rates steady at the moment, since the best information we have is that this chip shortage won’t start to ease until the end of the second quarter this year. But overall, we have a strong market and a strong order intake. More people are starting to get out. Consumers are spending. So, I see the next two years as being really strong for us.

Q: Do you have an idea what kind of Class 8 production numbers we’ll see this year?

A: I think we’ll see around 275,000 units built. Industry inventory will define the Class 8 market this year. I think we’re looking at a replacement rate of around 220,000 to 230,00 units. So that’s pent-up demand from last year, with some room for growth. So, I feel good about where we’re headed this year.

Q: What has customer response to the Next Generation T680 highway tractor been like?

A: It’s been overwhelmingly positive so far. We’ll get production of the new model ramped up by the end of this month. Right now, we’re still doing validation builds. But so far, feedback has been very good, particularly on the truck’s ride quality. We’re also getting a great deal of good reviews on the new LED turn signals mounted on the back edge of the front fenders. Drivers are telling us passenger cars are more responsive to lane-change signals and seem to be letting them over more frequently in the new truck. I find that interesting. That was our intent from the outset, of course. But they’re so visible, they seem to be performing even better than we predicted out on the road. Beyond that, I just love the styling on the new, Next Generation T680. It’s just such a bold statement.

Q: You all have a lot going on with that and the launch of the new medium-duty line.

A: Yes. And we have one more coming up later in the year. It’s not secret anymore that we’ve got both Class 8 and medium-duty electric trucks coming later on this year.

Q: I’m glad you mentioned that, because electric trucks are getting talked about a lot these days. What are your thoughts on that technology, and how do you think fleets are going to receive it once the trucks are available?

A: Obviously, with the new emissions regulations coming out of California in 2024, that has driven a lot of investment in electric trucks. And of course, Tesla certain got the industry’s attention when their plans for the Semi truck broke. So, we view this as a known development for our industry. But it’s important to remember that there’s more to this than just trucks. There’s a lot of activity going on around electric trucks – infrastructure, products, charging systems. The Biden administration’s just-announced infrastructure bill with help boost the development in many of these areas. But the truck is obviously one part of the whole electric picture. At Kenworth, our approach when talking to fleets is more about selling the entire system, as opposed to just selling a diesel truck. In other words, we have to talk to our customers, and educate them about every aspect of using these trucks. Because there’s a lot that’s going to new and different when they do enter the market.

Q: What markets do you think they’ll move into first?

A: The total cost of ownership (TCO) for an electric Class 8 truck doesn’t pencil out yet. But medium duty makes a lot of sense right now – as do final mile applications. So, I think that’s where the bulk of the first sales will be – with Class 8 electric trucks gaining significant market share a bit further out. But, at Kenworth and Paccar we are ready to service and support this new technology. We have a dedicated battery-electric fleet sales manager on staff, we have electric component support from Paccar Parts and we are working with our customers now to understand their needs and how they plan to deploy these trucks.

Q: Paccar recently announced a new partnership with Aurora Innovation to develop autonomous truck technology. Any new developments on this front?

A: We are lucky in that Paccar established a new Innovation business unit in Silicon Valley early on to begin understanding and developing autonomous technology for trucks. And we’re working now with a wide range of Tier 1 suppliers as well. And both these moves have given us insight and access to this technology has it’s being developed. Early on, we worked with everyone on autonomous technology – both Kenworth and Peterbilt – to have demo trucks ready early. Now, the road to full autonomous is both long and expensive. But over time, we felt that Aurora was the right player and partnership for us to commit to. For one thing, they’re a company that is interested in working with us to understand the trucking industry. And that wasn’t always the case with some of the companies we were dealing with. But now, we feel like we have a better pathway forward because we understand what our customers need from this technology and what they think about it.

Q: Any thoughts on how we’ll see that technology come to market?

A: Initially, I think it will be in the Southwest regions of the U.S., since the weather there is simply easier for the autonomous systems to deal with. And I think the first trucks will be in fixed course, point-to-point applications. But there’s still a lot to learn. Our customers are very clear that they view drivers as their company ambassadors. And they feel like they’ll need drivers onboard the trucks to handle other functions and tasks during a haul. So, we need to understand that aspect of what’s coming.

Q: It seems, though, that for the first time, we’re starting to see the fruits of your work on autonomous technology in the Next Generation T680. The technology on that truck has a much more integrated feel to it.

A: Yes. Without a doubt. We’ve been planning for this and thinking about it for some time now. An you’re right – the Next Generation T680 is where we’re now bringing those Level 2 autonomous systems to the fleets with the driver at the center of all that technology. We are viewing this as more of an evolutionary process. The way we see it, the building blocks for full autonomous trucks are being released as today’s advanced safety systems. Things like traffic jam assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist and other systems are early forms of autonomous systems designed to help drivers and make them safer. And at the same time, they advance the conversation about autonomous technology by making people more aware of how these systems work, what technology is available today, and open up discussions about what is coming next.

April 5, 2021 HDT • by Jack Roberts

Kenworth’s new medium-duty lineup of vocational trucks features a “car like” driving experience, more room and a host of new safety options. - Photo: Jack Roberts
Kenworth’s new medium-duty lineup of vocational trucks features a “car like” driving experience, more room and a host of new safety options. Photo: Jack Roberts

Refusing to cede the spotlight hot on the heels of the launch of the new, Next Generation T680 highway tractor, Kenworth has announced the launch of an all-new medium-duty truck line. The new line of trucks will cover Classes 4 through 7, with a new “Baby 8” configuration for mixer and dump applications.

The new line includes both straight trucks as well as tractor models and is the OEM’s first update of its medium-duty offerings since 2007 and the introduction of the first all-new models in almost 30 years.

The launch also marks the North American debut of the new Paccar TX-8 medium duty automatic transmission, an all-new ZF-designed gearbox that features a torque-converter and a robust, yet lightweight design that has been optimized for a wide range of applications from pickup and delivery to utility service and a variety of vocational applications.

The new models are the Kenworth T180 (Class 5), Kenworth T280 (Class 6), Kenworth T380 (Class 7) and Kenworth T480 (light Class 8). In addition, for customers needing FEPTO, full parent rails and fixed grille, Kenworth added the Kenworth T380V and Kenworth T480V with a vocational hood.

Medium-duty options for fleets now include both tractors and trailers, and “Baby 8” vocational applications. - Photo: Jack Roberts
Medium-duty options for fleets now include both tractors and trailers, and “Baby 8” vocational applications. Photo: Jack Roberts

Kenworth showed the new trucks to U.S. journalists at a ride-and-drive/reveal event in downtown Phoenix, Arizona, on April 1. Speaking to journalists before the drive portion of the event began, Kenworth General Manager and Paccar Vice President Kevin Baney noted that the medium-duty lineup featured “car-like” driveability and safety features.

“These Kenworth models possess excellent versatility and maneuverability, spacious 2.1-meter wide cab, exceptional visibility and driver-focused ergonomics, and new Paccar TX-8 transmission,” Baney said. “The new trucks are designed to serve an expansive variety of applications including cargo and reefer van, beverage, tow and recovery, utility and government, fuel oil and propane, landscaping, fire and dump and mixer.”

The trucks may be specified with either a standard low roof or a raised roof option. The low roof is 63 inches tall, 4 inches shorter than the raised roof, making it ideal for height-restricted applications, Baney said.

An All-New Automatic Transmission

According to Joe Adams, chief engineer for Kenworth, more than 500 people participated in design studies to help the medium duty design team define the dimensions and fine-tuned ergonomics of the new models. Perhaps most noticeable is the new, wider cab with three-person seating with the bench seat as standard for the Kenworth T180, T280 and T380 and optional for the T480. Customers also can select various seating options featuring high- or medium-back seats for a comfortable ride.

Another prominent new feature is the larger front windshield, which Adams said enhances driver visibility by nearly 17% compared to the previous models. Sightlines to the front of the new trucks are also aided by the new hood’s steep slope. Driver safety is also boosted by new interior noise reductions, which Adams said is 50% quieter than the previous medium duty lineup.

He noted that Kenworth also lowered the cab by up to 2 inches – depending upon configuration, a new feature that that benefits in-city drivers, who may climb in and out of their truck up to 60 times daily.

A new dash features conventional instrument displays as well as highly programable screen display and information options. - Photo: Jack Roberts
A new dash features conventional instrument displays as well as highly programable screen display and information options. Photo: Jack Roberts

Also new is a high-visibility center-dash instrumentation cluster with a 7-inch high-definition digital display centered between four standard analog gauges — speedometer, tachometer, oil pressure, and coolant temperature. Baney confirmed that this new dash was developed concurrently with the T680’s new display cluster, although the medium-duty version retains conventional gauges for the speedometer, tachometer, temperature and oil pressure, as opposed to digital representations of those displays as in the larger truck. Baney said customer focus groups determined that the medium duty market still liked conventional instrumentation in addition to configurable digital displays.

As with the T680’s display screen, the integrated Kenworth Digital Display allows drivers to personalize information on the screen to match their preferences. The 20 physical tell-tales and variants support either standard or metric units. Additional “virtual tell-tales” are available. Within the digital display, drivers can choose from a variety of screens that show specific vehicle information, trip information, gauges, and more. The display also enables drivers to customize the digital gauge layout view from the many accessory gauges, and intuitively integrates advanced driver assistance (ADAS) features, when specified on the truck.

Kenworth’s new medium-duty vehicles are available with the model year 2021 Paccar PX-7 engine rated up to 325 horsepower and 2021 Paccar PX-9 engine up to 380 horsepower, depending upon BBC. With the introduction of the new medium-duty vehicles, Kenworth offers — for the first time in its medium duty trucks — the near-zero emission Cummins Westport L9N natural gas engine that delivers 320 horsepower.

The new Paccar TX-8 automatic transmission is listed as standard equipment for the Kenworth T180, T280, T380 and T480. Adams said the new gearbox provides smooth performance and enhances fuel economy and has been optimized for a wide range of applications from pickup and delivery to utility service and a variety of vocational applications. When matched to the Paccar PX-7 or Paccar PX-9 engine, the transmission has a maximum torque rating up 1,000 lb.-ft. of torque and a 57,000-lb. GCWR.

Engine access is simplified, with either Paccar mid-range diesel engines, or Cummins Westport Natural Gas engines available. - Photo: Jack Roberts
Engine access is simplified, with either Paccar mid-range diesel engines, or Cummins Westport Natural Gas engines available. Photo: Jack Roberts

Featuring an aluminum enclosure, the Paccar TX-8 transmission utilizes twin torsional dampers that enable smoother shifts, Adams said. It also has first gear lockup – a feature that locks the torque converter at low speeds to improve fuel efficiency and driveability. For vocational applications, especially in construction or aggregate and dirt hauling, the transmission’s ‘creep mode’ provides a low, consistent pace for even material spreading. The transmission also features a hill start aid to help prevent unintended vehicle roll back or roll forward.

A Multi-Skip Shift function provides quick and direct downshifts from any gear with immediate acceleration and speed control. The transmission’s Adaptive Start Gear optimizes the launch gear selection to reduce shifts while improving fuel economy, while Neutral Idle Control will shift into neutral when the brakes are applied.

Additional features and details in the medium-duty lineup include:

  • A new “aero” grille, constructed with bright, annealed stainless steel for increased durability and protection from the elements. Crowns are available in chrome or in-mold dark gray. An external winter front or bug screen can be attached to the front of the grille.
  • A new, engine-mounted, air-intake system features an automotive-style flat panel filter design with a one-piece intake pipe and optional, remotely controlled inside/outside air control. The system is compatible with a pre-cleaner/ember separator. The new design reduces cab noise, offers ease of service, and cuts the cost of replacement filter elements.
  • An air-assisted hydraulic clutch for trucks spec’d with manual transmissions reduces driver fatigue through a pedal design that better matches a driver’s foot angle when engaging the clutch.
  • Three new bumper configurations, including a standard one-piece bumper, or an optional three-piece breakaway “aero” bumper; or a rear-mounted one-piece channel bumper; and a vocational bumper with options for a tow hook, fog lights, headlights, daytime running lights (DRL) and other mounts.
  • Redesigned DEF tanks provide improved thawing time, which reduces emissions and helps to increase fuel economy. There are various DEF options for a variety of body types.
  • New exhaust options, including right-hand, under cab DPF/SCR that optimizes cab access via a robust step and cover design. An underframe DPF/SCR is available for clear BOC and provides an improved diffuser design. Benefits of this configuration are a shortened wheelbase offering a gain of 5 inches and additional flexibility for under cab components.
  • A new hydraulic brake with performance and feel similar to engaging a brake in a passenger vehicle. The brake better matches a driver’s foot angle to further reduce driver fatigue.
  • The optional Kenworth SmartWheel steering wheel controls for the Digital Display provide automotive-level functionality. The multi-function wheel features scroll input that keeps allowing for quick fingertip control.
  • A new, standard steering column is designed to extend ergonomic range of motion, reduce driver fatigue and enhance overall comfort. It features full-tilt and telescopic position capability, self-canceling turn signal capability and column-mounted shifter.
  • Kenworth TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics, an optional system which enhances vehicle diagnostics by providing engine health information from new Kenworth medium-duty trucks to fleet managers and Kenworth dealers. The system diagnoses the issue and provides the recommended solution to the driver and fleet manager.
  • Steering and front suspension with deep 50-degree standard wheel cuts for standard-track vehicles and 55-degree wheel cuts for wide track vehicles. Both designs deliver optimal maneuverability and turning radius in urban work settings. The axles are compatible with a wide range of tire sizes (225/70R19.5 – 425/65R22.5). Lighter weight mono-leaf front springs (8K lbs., 10K lbs. and 12K lbs.) are available.
  • Throttle pedal: The new durable, hanging throttle pedal offers an automotive feel to Kenworth’s medium duty trucks. The new pedal helps reduce driver-fatigue and features a slip-resistant surface.
  • Transmission shifter: The enhanced column-mounted shifter provides improved ergonomics over the former pushbutton controller.

Baney said Kenworth was conducting validation builds on the new truck line, with production slated to begin in the third quarter of this year.

April 5, 2021 HDT • by Jack Roberts