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Kenworth’s new W990 combines modern features, driver amenities with retro design

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LAS VEGAS — It was just a coincidence that fighter jets out of Nellis Air Force Base were occasionally buzzing the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the early evening hours of September 27.

But the incidental military flyovers fit right into the sense of fanfare down on the track’s infield, where Kenworth had booked the speedway to hold a grand unveiling event for its latest model, the W990, before an invited crowd of customers, dealers and trucking media.

Before eight of the new W990s made a choreographed, group entrance accompanied by theatrical lighting and rock music and were then parked for the crowd to inspect and admire, Kenworth officials talked about the new tractor and why this debut was special to them.

“The new Kenworth W990 is a reflection of the Kenworth brand, which represents the quality, engineering excellence and both customer and driver focus that goes into every Kenworth we build,” said Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and PACCAR vice president. “The Kenworth W990 represents the pride, image and freedom of trucking, and captures the spirit of what trucking is all about.”

It also represents the next evolutionary step in the long-hood conventional W900 series, “The Driver’s Truck” as Kenworth likes to refer to it, which has been a high-profile part of the Kenworth line since 1961.

“We’re celebrating the legacy of the W900 and the introduction of the next generation of the 900, the W990,” Dozier said, but he was quick to clarify that the 990 isn’t so much the successor to the 900 as it is a branching off of the 900’s lineage.

“W900Ls aren’t going anywhere,” Dozier said, “but we’re planning for the future,” the thought being that the market will determine the direction of the 900 series.

The challenge in designing the W990 was to create something that represented a step forward aesthetically and technologically while honoring its predecessors. That challenge fell largely on Kenworth Design Director Jonathan Duncan as his team.

Duncan called the task of combining past and present, form and function a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“For this truck, it was all about the ‘wow factor,’” Duncan said. It was about making a statement that was original but unmistakably Kenworth.

The most prominent visual features on the W990 are the hood and the grille. With a bumper-to-back-of cab measurement of 131.5-inches, the W990 is only 1.5 inches longer than the W900L, but it appears longer. There’s less downward slope on the 990’s hood, and the wind split – the center crease that runs down the length of the hood – not only accentuates the familiar Kenworth “cathedral” shape but combined with a lower windshield also improves driver visibility.

“Behind the wheel, the driver’s view over the hood is a huge part of the appeal of the W990,” Duncan said. “It’s really one of the keys to the success of this design.”

The side air intakes wrap over the top of the hood so that they are visible from the driver’s seat, which has a strong visual impact from behind the wheel, Duncan said. They made it a point, he added, that all the “shiny metal parts” were stainless steel.

That also goes for the grille, the “face of the new W990,” Duncan said

“Incorporating stainless steel was important. The grill is a real statement. It had to be pure Kenworth and it needed to be instantly recognizable as the top-of-the-line. We maintained the traditional cathedral shape to the grille and the inset surfaces at the top to give it a refined, tailored look. That powerful center spear signifies this is part of the new generation of Kenworth trucks and the tapered grille spears are there for a classic touch.”

Despite the “monumental” appearance of the W990’s front end, it is actually 67 percent more aerodynamic than the W900, Duncan said. It wasn’t a consideration as they were designing it, he said, but they’ll take it.

While much attention was paid to the 990’s looks, it’s what’s inside that counts. Components under the hood have been reconfigured for easier serviceability, Duncan said, and the fenders are bolted on for easier replacement.

The W990 comes with the Paccar Powertrain consisting of the Paccar MX-13 engine rated up to 510-hp and 1,850 lb.-feet of torque, a 12-speed Paccar automated transmission and Paccar 40K tandem rear axles.

Kenworth TruckTech+ remote diagnostics system comes standard. Kenworth NAV+HD seven-inch, color in-dash display provides access to valuable features such as truck-specific navigation, roadside assistance, vehicle data, hands-free calling, audio controls, blind-spot camera inputs and the internet. Bendix’ Wingman Fusion system is optional.

The W990 is available in day cab, 40-inch flat top, and 52-inch and 76-inch mid-roof sleeper configurations, and is built on a 2.1-meter cab platform. In keeping with the theme of being ‘the driver’s truck,’ the W990’s cab and sleeper areas have also been designed to be a show of appreciation to those who drive it. In particular, there is a Limited Edition cab option and a W990 Driver’s Studio package of premium options that give the truck a sense of luxury.

The Limited Edition interior comes in midnight black with glossy Ravenwood door and dash trim accents. The interior features rich black leather seats, door pads and steering wheel with royal blue double-stitching. The Driver’s Studio offers a 180-degree swivel passenger seat and rotating table for two people, a swivel TV mount, drawer-style refrigerator and premium audio system.

There’s a full-size wardrobe space for hanging clothes, and ample storage space. The 1800-watt inverter includes a shore power connection and four standard 120-volt sleeper outlets to power a range of electrical devices. LED lighting provides ample interior light throughout the sleeper.

“Finding truckers nowadays is harder than ever,” Dozier said, but he added that being able to offer a truck like this would give fleets an advantage over the competition. Or a carrier could use it as an incentive to their top drivers.

“The Kenworth W990’s excellent performance, classical styling, premium finishes and lifestyle amenities underscore a sense of driver achievement and pride,” Dozier said. “We are passionate about our products, our customers that depend on them, and the drivers that operate them.”

Just before the trucks made their appearance, Kenworth presented a promotional video for the W990. That video is now available for viewing at www.youtube.com/KenworthTruckCo.

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BestDrive opens locations in Texas, Arkansas and California

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The Best Drive staff stands outside the Los Angeles location. It is the company’s first location in California. (Courtesy: BEST DRIVE)

FORT MILL, S.C. — BestDrive, a commercial tire dealer and retreader focusing on Continental tire offerings, opened locations in Houston, Los Angeles and Little Rock, Arkansas, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The openings included the retailer’s first stores in California and Arkansas.

Established in 2010, BestDrive now has 31 commercial tire centers across 17 states.

“BestDrive is committed to serving fleets across the U.S. with new tires, retreads, and tire monitoring technology,” said Sonny Simpson, managing director of BestDrive. “We continue to add locations to support our goal of delivering the lowest overall driving cost to local and national fleet customers.”

BestDrive commercial tire centers offer total fleet tire management with Continental, General Tire, and AmeriSteel brand products, as well as other supplemental tire brands, Simpson said. The dealerships equip fleets with new tires and ContiTread retread solutions as part of the ContiLifeCycle program, designed to lower costs and prolong the life of a Continental tire.

In addition to new and retread tires, BestDrive can help fleets select and implement innovative technology such as ContiPressureCheck tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS), ContiConnect® remote digital tire monitoring, ContiPressureCheck Solo trailer TPMS, and Continental’s VDO Roadlog for ELD Mandate compliance. These solutions will help businesses reduce tire-related breakdowns, eliminate manual tire pressure checks, improve fuel efficiency, and extend the life of tires and casings.

Services available at all BestDrive outlets include commercial tire mounting, dismounting, and balancing, 24-hour service, wheel refinishing, new and used wheels, air-up programs, commercial truck alignments and fleet checks. The stores also offer passenger, light truck, material handling, and OTR tires.

For the most up-to-date list of locations, please visit bestdrivetire.com.

 

 

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Self-driving truck company TuSimple raises $95 million in Series D funding

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TuSimple is developing a commercial-ready Level 4 (SAE) fully-autonomous driving solution for the logistics industry. TuSimple is the only self-driving truck company capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention and does so every day for its customers. (Courtesy: TUSIMPLE)

SAN DIEGO — TuSimple, a global self-driving truck company, has raised $95 million in Series D funding based on a pre-money valuation of $1 billion.

The new capital investment will be used to fund TuSimple’s commercial ramp-up and product development.

With this round, TuSimple will continue to grow its commercial autonomous fleet, which makes daily fully-autonomous deliveries in Arizona, and soon in Texas, for large shippers and fleets, according to Dr. Xiaodi Hou, founder, president and chief technology officer.

The fleet allows the company to earn revenue while validating its SAE Level 4 fully-autonomous system, he said.

The company currently has 12 contracted customers and is making three to five delivery trips per day. It will use the funds to grow the fleet to over 50 trucks by June.

The investment will also be used to fund critical joint production programs with its OEM, Tier 1, and sensor partners in order to achieve full commercialization, Hou said. Suppliers essential to truck manufacturing are working with TuSimple on the integration of autonomous software with powertrain, braking and steering systems, an essential step for the commercial production and operation of self-driving trucks.

The $95 million financing was completed in December 2018.

This brings TuSimple’s total funding to date to $178 million. This latest round was led by Sina Corp., a technology company widely recognized for developing Weibo, a social media platforms. Composite Capital, a Hong Kong-based investment firm focused on consumer, technology and transportation companies globally also participated in this round.

“TuSimple consistently reaches their milestones on and ahead of schedule and we are confident that they are poised to bring the first commercial self-driving trucks to market,” said Colin Xie, vice general manager, investment department, Sina Corp. “We are focused on finding the global leaders in artificial intelligence and TuSimple is ahead of the pack. The combination of technical excellence and an impressive leadership team has propelled the company into unicorn status.”

“Autonomous driving is one of the most complex AI systems humans have ever built. After three years of intense focus to reach our technical goals, we have moved beyond research into the serious work of building a commercial solution,” Hou said. “We are thankful for the continued support of our investors and partners. This is not only a great sign of confidence in TuSimple, but also for the future of autonomous trucking.”

TuSimple’s Level 4 fully-autonomous semi-trucks are the only trucks capable of driving from depot-to-depot without human intervention, Hou said.

To support Level 4 driving on complex highway and local streets, the company has developed an innovative camera-centric perception solution that allows TuSimple’s trucks to see 1,000 meters ahead of the vehicle, Hou said, noting that the vision range is farther and delivers better visibility than any other autonomous driving system today.

This level of performance is essential for autonomous commercial trucks to operate safely at highway speeds — rain or shine, he said.

“TuSimple is aiming to transform the $800-billion U.S. trucking industry by increasing safety, lowering costs, reducing carbon emissions and providing tools to optimize fleet logistics for operators,” Hou said.

TuSimple is headquartered in San Diego and operates self-driving trucks out of Tucson, Arizona.

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International Trucks makes Bendix Wingman Fusion standard on on-highway tractors

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Offering Bendix Wingman Fusion is part of International Truck’s DriverFirst philosophy, a company executive said. Pictured is the International LoneStar Low Roof model. (Courtesy: NAVISTAR )

LISLE, Ill. — International Truck now offers Bendix Wingman Fusion, an integration of advanced safety technologies, as standard equipment on the entire lineup of on-highway tractors, including the International LoneStar, LT Series and RH Series trucks.

Bendix Wingman Fusion is the Bendix flagship collision mitigation technology integrating radar, camera, and the vehicle’s brake system into a driver assistance system that delivers driver alerts and interventions to help them mitigate rear-end collisions, rollovers, and a loss-of-control situations.

Wingman Fusion combines and cross-checks information from sensors that are working together — not just in parallel — along with powerful computing, to typically assesses situations faster and reacts earlier, while also helping to significantly reduce false alerts and false interventions, according to Jim Nachtman, director, heavy-duty, marketing, International Truck.

By creating a highly detailed and accurate data picture, he said, Bendix Wingman Fusion delivers enhanced rear-end collision mitigation, and adaptive cruise control, along with following distance alerts, stationary object alerts, lane departure warning, alerts when speeding, and braking on stationary vehicles – all while prioritizing alerts to help reduce driver distraction. Event-based data – including video – can be wirelessly transmitted for driver coaching and analysis by fleet safety personnel. Other options include blind spot detection that helps drivers address vehicles in their blind spots that may not be visible in their mirrors. The forward-facing camera of Wingman Fusion is powered by the Mobileye System-on-Chip EyeQ processor with state-of-the-art vision algorithms.

“As part of our DriverFirst philosophy, we concentrate on consistently improving the overall driver experience, specifically safety,” Nachtman said. “Partnering with Bendix to make Fusion standard on all of International Truck’s heavy-duty vehicles makes for an important joint contribution to make North American roadways safer for everyone.”

Since the introduction of Bendix Wingman Fusion in 2015, International Truck has offered the technology as an option for all on-highway models. Bendix Wingman Fusion is also available as an option on International’s medium-duty lineup, including the International MV Series, HV Series, HX Series and CV Series trucks.

“Bendix’s ongoing partnership with Navistar is built on years of shared commitment to driver, vehicle, and highway safety,” said Scott Burkhart, Bendix vice president – sales, marketing, and business development. “International Truck’s positioning of Wingman Fusion as standard equipment on its complete line of on-highway tractors is both a point of pride for the entire Bendix team and another step forward alongside a true leader in our industry.”

According to Bendix, its safety technologies complement safe driving practices and are not intended to enable or encourage aggressive driving. No commercial vehicle safety technology replaces a skilled, alert driver exercising safe driving techniques and proactive, comprehensive driver training. Responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle remains with the driver at all times.

For more information on International Truck’s product lineup or to locate a dealer, visit internationaltrucks.com.

 

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