Freightliner are looking to get a major boost from the Cascadia, which takes conventional trucks in Australia to a new level. These models can match, toe-to-toe the sophisticated European prime movers which have been eating into the Freightliner market share.
Although the basic Cascadia model has been around for some time, it was not until the substantial update of the model in 2016 that it really met its potential and Freightliner got a major boost from the Cascadia in the US market. The update saw the Cascadia design become a cutting edge technology leader, with excellent fuel consumption, sophisticated safety systems in a package which has now captured 40 per cent of the US heavy duty prime mover market.
The most obvious change with the Cascadia is the entirely new body shape. This is the third iteration of the design in the US, but the first for us. The body is developed around an aluminium cab shell which is designed to be welded together by robots on the assembly line at Cleveland in North Carolina, in the US. Doors use high tensile steel for added strength.
Apart from being designed to have an extremely low drag coefficient, the innovative panel design minimises weight and maximises strength, allowing it to meet the ECE R29 cab strength standard.
The overall design of these trucks sees the Daimler organisation pull all of its resources in from the global operation to create a unified vehicle which can claim to be state-of-the-art. The way this design has been put together also enables the model to be sold as widely as possible in the developed world.
Two new engines are going to become available with the introduction of the Cascadia, they are the Detroit DD13 and DD16. These engines are the same as those which are currently being sold on the US market. In terms of emissions they exceed the requirements of Euro 6 and, in fact, meet the standards set out in the US by the EPA, for greenhouse gas emissions as well as PM and NOx, (GHG 17).
The DD13 is significantly different from the 13 litre being sold already in Australia, as it includes SCR, EGR and a diesel particular filter. This new 13 litre is going to be available in ratings at 450 hp, 470 hp and 505 hp, all with maximum power at 1625 rpm. The two lower power engines will produce 2237Nm (1650 ftlb) of torque at 975 rpm while the 505 hp version will produce 2508Nm (1850 ftlb) at the same rpm level.
The new DD16 can be expected to emulate the cut through of its sister engine, the 16litre used in the latest Mercedes-Benz heavy duty trucks. This engine will be available in six different variations ranging from 500 hp up to 600 hp, all reaching maximum horsepower at 1800 rpm. Torque levels will be available at 2508Nm (1850 ftlb) or 2780Nm (2050 ftlb) from 1120 rpm.
Freightliner is hoping for a major boost from the Cascadia and expect that this new pair of engines will perform in a similarly fuel-efficient way to their Mercedes siblings. All indications from on the road testing here in Australia make it look like the new trucks, due to their conventional shape, may outshine the Benz in the fuel economy stakes. The jury is still out on that one.
There is another game changer in the next stage of the driveline. Freightliner will not be offering an Eaton AMT in this truck. The 18 speed Eaton RoadRanger manual will be available, but for those who prefer an AMT, the option will be the Detroit DT 12, which is an adaption from the 12 speed AMT currently used in the heavy duty Mercedes Benz and Fuso range.
The strategy of going over to the DT 12 has seen a major boost from the Cascadia in the US market its full integration with the rest of the driveline has reaped dividends in terms of fuel economy, drivetrain security and diagnostics. As the Australian truck market is also increasingly heading down the AMT route, we can expect that the vast majority of Cascadias sold here will use this smooth changing automatic box as well.
As has been in evidence in the Mercedes-Benz this is a very sophisticated automated manual with features like creep mode, coasting, gear skipping and hill start aid all available as standard. It will also include something which Detroit call Cruise Descent Control.
The driver can set desired descent speed using the cruise control after activating the engine brake manually. The engine brake will attempt to hold the set speed, but application of the foot brake is still required if the truck starts to overrun. The AMT will not upshift in this situation.
There will be four variants of DT 12 gearbox available in the new Cascadia, three direct drive and one overdrive. There is a pair of modes available, economy and performance, and gears can be changed manually using the steering column lever.