Truck product enhancements flow amid order trough

Steps over DEF tank

As new orders remain tepid following a two-year equipment-buying surge, truck makers are trying to juice interest through product enhancements.

Integrated steps

Kenworth Truck Co. is introducing an optional diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank with integrated steps designed for its T680 and T880 models. The access steps to the deck plate are mounted directly over the DEF tank without requiring additional frame space.

The placement of the steps can free up as much as 16 inches of frame space, a boost to space-constrained truck operators. The resulting shorter wheelbase can enhance the maneuverability of the trucks in tight urban areas or on job sites.

The option is available with Kenworth’s 21-gallon, medium-size aerodynamic DEF tanks used with the T680 and T880. It is not available with full or partial chassis fairings.

Separately, Kenworth has launched its over-the-air system to allow engine and aftertreatment software updates for hits Class 8 trucks equipped with a 2017 or newer model year PACCAR MX-13 or PACCAR MX-11 engine.

Kenworth announced over-the-air updates at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in October 2019. The company followed other manufacturers in offering the software because it wanted to assure cybersecurity.

TruckTech+ subscribers can access updates on the PACCAR Solutions online portal, which provides users with visibility to all of their Kenworth trucks, performance data and software updates. When an update is available, pressing the cruise control set switch for five seconds connects the truck to PACCAR’s cloud server.

Command Steer for Mack Granite

Weeks after announcing it would offer its Command Steer active steering system on Anthem over-the-road Class 8 models, the Volvo Group division will take orders in the third quarter for the feature on Mack Granite axle back models commonly found on the job site.

Command Steer reduces driver fatigue and can help cut muscle strain up to 30% by combining an electric motor with the existing hydraulic steering. In September 2019, Mack sibling Volvo Trucks North America announced the optional feature, which it calls Dynamic Steering, beginning in April for its VNL highway models.

“Driving a fully loaded, heavy-duty construction truck is a physically demanding task, especially when you add the uneven terrain common to most job sites,” said Roy Horton, Mack Trucks director of product strategy.

Command Steer applies additional torque as needed through its electric motor, reducing driver effort by 85%. It monitors terrain, driver inputs and environmental elements more than 2,000 times per second through sensors found throughout the truck. Holes, dips and ruts found on most job sites are filtered out.

The system automatically returns the steering wheel to the zero or center position in forward and reverse, which simplifies tight maneuvers, such as backing a trailer or positioning a dump truck or mixer to unload.