Expanding the company’s commitment to maintaining a leadership position in the heavy truck business, International Truck and Engine Corp. unveiled its International ProStar Series trucks Friday, March 24, at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.
The new International ProStar is the result of five years and $300 million in development, including the continuous collaboration of dealer and customer advisory boards. Designed to provide best-in-class fuel economy, unparalleled driver satisfaction, unprecedented uptime and lowest cost of ownership; the International ProStar is designed based on the demands of the customer.
“When we set out to build a new standard for line haul tractors, we committed ourselves to providing the customer a product that delivers value in the areas that most drive their business,” said Tom Baughman, vice president and general manager, Heavy Truck Group, International Truck and Engine Corp.
“We gleaned insights directly from our customers, as well as conducted extensive performance evaluations and competitive benchmarking, to develop a product that uniquely addresses growing marketplace demands for more fuel efficiency, performance and driver accommodation.”
Styled with boldly sculpted fenders, a sloped hood to enhance visibility, and streamlined cab and roof shaping, the new International ProStar cuts through air efficiently. The aerodynamic design dramatically reduces wind resistance, turning in profit-boosting fuel-efficiency performance.
Key test applications used to achieve the design were Computational Fluid Dynamics, a computerized application used to optimize design in the early stages of the process and 1/8 scale wind tunnel testing for basic shape development. Then, full-scale wind tunnel testing was completed with a trailer attached, which revealed an 8 percent drag reduction improvement compared to International’s previous best-in-class model.
“Our customers expect us to support them with more economic and emotional value,” said Baughman. “That means reducing operating costs in every way possible, and also delivering a vehicle that owners are proud to own and drivers are proud to drive.”
In particular, drivers will benefit from advanced, integrated ride and handling that is designed to reduce fatigue and improve responsiveness. The seat, the cab and chassis suspensions have been integrated and tested to complement and enhance vehicle level ride and handling characteristics.
From the quietness of the climate-controlled cab to the massaging seats, drivers are positioned comfortably. In-depth ergonomic research, including detailed measurement of hundreds of truck drivers, was used to design the cab and sleeper with maximum comfort, safety and productivity.
From the available seat travel, to flexible positioning of the steering wheel, instrument panel gauges and steering wheel-based controls, the International ProStar accommodates the full range of driver sizes and reduces cognitive demand, on drivers so they can focus on the road.
Also, drivers will feel at home in the comfortable sleeper accommodations, which boast improved fit-and-finish, storage space options, excellent HVAC performance, as well as a roomy feel with more natural light. Designers from International’s Fort Wayne Truck Development and Technology Center slept in a variety of tractor sleepers and went on the road with drivers throughout the development program to better understand their requirements for living and sleeping space utilization.
Productivity optimization goes beyond the driver, it also requires a reliable tractor. International’s goal of best-in-class reliability drove every design and process improvement.
“We spent a lot of time with customers, mining their maintenance records and discussing the top causes of downtime,” said Baughman. “Every targeted system improvement has been tracked ongoing from component testing through to vehicle testing to be sure we provide customers a product that stands up to the grueling and time sensitive demands synonymous with line haul applications.”
Some of the top causes of downtime are tires, electrical harnesses, connectors, batteries, air leaks, air brakes and fuel systems. To respond to these issues, International developed monitoring, prognostic and diagnostic systems to improve uptime performance and provide information to the drivers and fleet managers.
Designed with ease of access for maintainers and a minimal requirement for special service tools, the International ProStar will be in and out of the shop in record time. In total, more than 60 efficient repair and maintenance features have been incorporated. For example, transmission replacement time has been reduced by 90 minutes, headlight bulbs and windshield wiper blades can be replaced by a driver or mechanic without tools. A four-piece bumper allows maintainers to replace only damaged pieces, rather than the whole bumper, in the event of an accident
Just as ergonomic design was incorporated into the cab to enhance the driver environment; innovations like a low-effort E-Z Tilt hood and a Tilt-Away bumper provide a walk-in engine compartment and allow easy engine and underside access.
International also synchronized service intervals so that customers gain an average of 59 more days on the road over the life of the vehicle. Initial production will be based on 122-inch BBC tractors with daycab and high-rise sleeper configurations. The second phase of production will include additional BBC and sleeper configuration options. The truck will be produced at the International Assembly Plant in Chatham, Ontario, Canada.
Shipments of the new International ProStar to dealers will begin in the first quarter of 2007. Once customers take ownership, they will have access to nearly 900 service locations in the U.S. and Canada and an extensive domestic parts network that offers affordable and available replacement parts.
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