2020 Trucks Report: Manufacturers unveil next year’s improvements
Comfort, collision mitigation, connectivity and electric charge on docket for next generation of trucks
In 2020, fleet equipment is all about the four Cs: Comfort, Collision mitigation, connectivity and charge — of the electric variety that is. Many manufacturers continue to go big by going small, with a very visible commitment to light-duty vehicles as vans and other small units continue to get deployed in more significant numbers among beverage delivery fleets. Despite the fact that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) continue to test the waters with those aforementioned all-electric vehicles, there’s still a place for compressed natural gas — not to mention the old standby gasoline, which increasingly is finding its place in applications where previously only diesel dared to tread.
Here are some snapshots of what’s happening with the industry’s top fleet equipment suppliers and what to expect in 2020 and beyond.
Isuzu Commercial Truck of America Inc. announced plans for its 2020 model-year lineup earlier this year, including the addition of two new Class 5 gasoline engine models next year.
Two Class 5 models are planned: the NQR Gas, with a target gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 17,950 pounds, and the NRR Gas, with a target GVWR of 19,500 pounds. Both will be powered by a General Motors 6.0-liter Vortec V8 supplied by PSI and will be mated to an Allison 1000 RDS transmission with PTO gear. Production is expected to begin in mid-2020.
In addition to the Class 5 gasoline trucks, Isuzu announced a number of refinements to its returning lineup of diesel- and gas-powered trucks, including new driver-assistance and audio options for all models.
As of May of this year, all Isuzu N-Series and F-Series trucks now are available with a suite of Mobileye advanced driver-assistance features. The package includes the following attributes:
- Forward collision warning
- Pedestrian collision warning
- Lane departure warning
- Headway monitoring warning
Active at any speed, forward collision warning alerts drivers of an imminent rear-end collision with a car, truck or motorcycle up to 2.7 seconds in advance.
Pedestrian collision warning notifies the driver of a pedestrian or cyclist in the danger zone, and alerts the driver of an imminent collision. Operational during daylight hours only, this feature is active at speeds below 31 miles per hour (mph).
Lane departure warning monitors lane markings and alerts drivers with visual and audible warnings when a lane deviation occurs without proper signal activation. The system employs both a left- and right-lane warning icon and is active at speeds 34 mph and above.
A headway monitoring warning helps drivers maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead, providing visual and audible alerts if the distance becomes unsafe. Active at speeds above 19 mph, the system displays the amount of time, in seconds, to the vehicle ahead. When the time becomes 2.5 seconds or less, and no longer is considered safe, an alert is provided.
The Mobileye suite of driver-assistance features will carry a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of $1,132. Currently, 30 million vehicles are equipped with Mobileye technology.
Also, as of this past May, all Isuzu N-Series and F-Series trucks offer new audio and backup camera options.
The Alpine iLX-207 audio upgrade ($1,264 MSRP) features a seven-inch VGA touchscreen display and Bluetooth hands-free capability. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and, with an additional tuner, SiriusXM satellite radio.
For an additional $200, the upgraded audio system can be augmented with the Alpine HCE-C1100 backup camera. Thanks to high dynamic range (HDR) technology, the display offers incredible image quality in varying levels of light, eliminating “washout” common when going from areas of heavy shade into areas with bright sunlight. Parking also is more precise because of the camera’s 131-degree horizontal viewing angle and 103-degree vertical viewing angle. The base NPR Diesel and Reach models have been discontinued.
A few more highlights on the 2020 Isuzu NPR HD:
- New Aisin A465id six-speed double overdrive automatic transmission with lockup torque converter.
- Seal and friction material changed to reduce drag resistance plus increased lockup range to improve transmission efficiency, with improvement in fuel economy.
- Deceleration skip downshift allows for a lower gear command when acceleration is required, improving drivability.
- New 215/85R16 tires with 5-10 percent reduction in rolling resistance for improved fuel economy.
- Isuzu Diagnostic Service System (IDSS) allows diesel-model owners to receive a detailed “health report” from Isuzu dealers on performance data.
- Air conditioning now is standard.
One of Hino truck’s latest introductions is the Class 4 Hino 155, powered by the company’s 5-liter J05 series engine rated at 210 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque, available in both standard cab and crew cab formats — with seating capacity up to seven. The Hino 155 features the Aisin 6-speed automatic transmission and a 33-inch frame with yield strength of 56,900 PSI. Hino’s partner Aisin has been manufacturing durable transmissions for more than 40 years. Additional highlights include a 100 percent stainless steel constructed, 78.5-inch-wide cab, remote keyless entry, power windows and door locks, and a 30-gallon center-mounted fuel tank.
What’s more, Hino’s proprietary Selective Calalytic Reduction technology lowers NOx emissions by more than 80 percent, the company says. All cabover engine models are backed with a five-year 200,000-mile engine warranty, as well as HinoCare, which provides two years or 60,000 miles of preventive care benefits free of charge.
Kenworth also has some news on the medium-duty cabover front.
For the Kenworth K370 Class 7 cabover, new options are the Dana Spicer S23-172E 23K high entry axle, Reyco 23K rear suspension, Dana 1710 driveline series, 8K lift axle pusher, pusher tires and wheels, and upsized park and spring brakes.
The Kenworth K370 and the Kenworth K270 Class 6 both now offer the Davco 245 fuel/water separator combined with a battery disconnect switch on the left-hand rail as an option.
The Kenworth K270 and K370 are powered by the 6.7-liter PACCAR PX-7 engine, which is rated up to 260 horsepower and 660 pounds-feet of torque, and delivers an exceptional power-to-weight ratio for the medium-duty market. Both models come standard with the 2100 HS Allison 5-speed automatic transmission.
A key advantage of the Kenworth cabovers over medium-duty conventional trucks is its 55-degree wheel cut for a tighter turning radius and greater maneuverability for operating in crowded urban environments. The cabovers also offer a large windshield for enhanced visibility, and room to carry a three-person crew with an air-suspended driver seat and two-person bench seat.
With a bumper to back of cab (BBC) of only 63.4 inches, the Kenworth cabovers provide increased room for body installations when compared with medium-duty conventional products. This enables the K270 and K370 to haul more payload with a shorter overall length. This is especially important, Kenworth notes, as overall truck length is becoming more regulated in some major metropolitan cities.
Meanwhile, fleet managers who purchase Kenworth’s T270, T370, T440 and T470 models now are able to order Kenworth TruckTech+ Remote Diagnostics. The system enhances vehicle diagnostics by providing real-time engine health information to fleet managers to help maximize uptime and productivity. It also enables fleets to track the location of their trucks.
Kenworth TruckTech+ notifications include continue driving with no action required; keep driving and address the service code during the next service interval; head to a dealer for service; or pull over to prevent possible damage. If the customer needs to take the truck in for service, the system maps out the locations of the three closest repair facilities. The data is sent to a secure web portal where the fleet manager can review the truck’s location, status, identified issue and recommended solution.
Meanwhile, for its Peterbilt division, PACCAR has made a number of tech upgrades for its medium-duty trucks. The Bendix Wingman Fusion advanced driver assistance system now is available for Peterbilt models 348 and 337. The collision mitigation technology integrates camera and radar technology to enable advanced collision avoidance features like object lane detection, lane departure warnings and overspeed alerts. These features are ideal for high-congestion urban environments. When triggered by a slow-moving or stationary vehicle ahead, sensors from the integrated video, radar and brake system generate a fast analysis to help prevent possible front-end collisions, rollovers and loss-of-control scenarios. The Wingman Fusion system will alert the driver and when necessary, will automatically apply the brakes.
Additionally, Peterbilt has added SmartLINQ remote diagnostics as an option for medium-duty models 348, 337, 330 and 325. SmartLINQ provides fleet managers with real-time fleet health information to optimize uptime and keep deliveries on schedule. If a diagnostic code is generated, a notification is produced with details regarding severity, urgency, recommended actions and other information that could prove invaluable to drivers and beverage fleet managers. When Peterbilt customers select the SmartLINQ option, they receive a two-year subscription.
International Truck recently announced that it will feature Allison Transmission’s Neutral at Stop feature as standard equipment on the International MV series beginning in the first quarter of 2020.
The Allison Neutral at Stop function automatically shifts the transmission into neutral when the vehicle is stationary. The feature eliminates the load on the engine when the vehicle is stopped, which trims fuel consumption and lowers emissions, the company says. Based on Greenhouse Emissions modeling, Allison reports that Neutral at Stop can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 6 percent in urban applications compared with the 2018 baseline. As an added feature, Neutral at Stop locks the output while stopped to prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards.
The Allison 1000 HS automatic transmission, standard on the MV series, also offers the FuelSense 2.0 with Dynactive Shifting as an available option. The system, International says, provides “infinitively variable” shift points based on a number of inputs from the vehicle — balancing fuel economy and performance based on vehicle operating conditions.
In other Navistar news, the company announced that it is investing more than $250 million to build a new manufacturing facility in San Antonio, Texas. The new site will have the flexibility to build Class 6-8 trucks, enhancing the company’s existing production footprint, which includes its facilities in Springfield, Ohio, and Escobedo, Mexico. The announcement comes on the heels of Navistar’s previously announced plan to invest $125 million in its Huntsville, Ala., engine plant.
A major enhancement for Volvo’s VNR series trucks in 2020 is Volvo Dynamic System (VDS), which the company calls “an ultra-responsive” steering system designed to lessen steering force by as much as 85 percent.
The VDS features an electronic motor mounted on top of the hydraulic steering gear. Input from multiple vehicle sensors, at more than 2,000 times each second, determines the appropriate steering wheel response. The system continuously monitors drivers’ actions, environmental factors and road conditions faster than the blink of an eye, the company says. The motor provides additional torque when needed to keep the truck safely on the road. This supports driver reactions with greater control and less abrupt maneuvering.
The following are key elements that are included:
- Vehicle stability control, which leads to increased directional stability on the highway, offering a safer and more relaxed driving experience with full control at all speeds.
- Return-to-center/zero return, which enables the steering wheel to return to the center position when the truck is in motion, making it easier to reverse and maneuver in tight areas.
- Dampening, which allows the steering system to filter inputs from the road surface and — based on feedback from multiple sensors — helps improve handling and vehicle stability.
- Lead/pull compensation, which provides torque offset within the steering system to compensate for crowned roads, steady crosswinds and other short-term conditions that could have an adverse effect on handling.
The VDS also helps reduce operational fatigue by filtering road vibration and noise through the steering wheel. Volvo contends that it could lessen the driver’s physical discomfort caused by repetitive motions from varying roadway conditions and maneuvering actions. Volvo’s tests have shown that the VDS has the potential to cut muscular strain by as much as 30 percent, according to the company. On some specific motions that strain could be reduced by as much as 70 percent, it adds.
Mitsubishi Fuso recently unveiled the Fuso FE CNG, Class 4 concept truck powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), built in partnership with alternative-energy provider Agility Fuel Solutions. The design is based on the Fuso FE Gas truck that the company announced last year. Agility provided two side-mounted CNG fuel systems and other components that feed CNG into the 6-liter V8 engine from General Motors. The new system delivers a maximum driving range of 190 miles.
Because Fuso wanted to ensure that its customers experience an easy transition from gas or diesel to CNG, the company installed a familiar fuel gauge instead of the pressure valve that CNG vehicles typically use, it says. It also worked to ensure that the new system did not add too much weight to affect the truck’s overall payload capacity. Fuso says that the new FE CNG reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 15-20 percent. The company also points out that it offers reductions in NOx and sulfur dioxide emissions.
Freightliner has designed the electric, medium-duty eM2 for local distribution, pick-up and delivery, as part of the Daimler Trucks North America’s (DTNA) eMobility initiative. The first eM2 was recently delivered to Penske Truck Leasing for testing as part of the Freightliner Electric Innovation Fleet. The Electric Innovation Fleet has been developed in partnership with Penske and supply chain solution provider NFI and is partially funded by a $16 million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Regular deployment is expected in 2021.
The eM2 has a 325 kWh battery that can power the vehicle for a range of as many as 230 miles, making it an ideal option for local delivery, it says. Users can recharge the battery from zero to 80 percent in an hour.
The 26,000 gross combined weight rating (GCWR) vehicle offers up to 480 peak horsepower.
The eM2 medium-duty joins Freightliner’s Class 8 electric eCascadia, with an 80,000-pound GCWR, 730 peak horsepower and a 550 kWh battery that provides a range as far as 250 miles.
On the much lighter-duty side of things, Daimler has announced the pricing and features on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van. Models start at a MSRP of $34,495, with options for 2-liter, 4-cylinder or 3-liter, V6 diesel engines. Available with wheelbases ranging from 144 to 170 inches, the company also offers curb weights ranging from 4,696 to 6,074 pounds.
Fifteen configurations are available in all, with the top end of its price range at $58,625. The dimensions of the Sprinter van are 234 to 274 inches long by 80 inches wide by 96 to 111 inches high. Warranties are available in three-year/36,000-mile and 5-year/100,000-mile options.
Speaking of vans, Chevy is unveiling a cargo version of its Bolt EV with auxiliary equipment from Adrian Steel and Knapheide that is finding its way into several commercial delivery fleets.
The Bolt EV Cargo, as it is known, is available as a compact hatchback without its second row of seating. Instead, fleet buyers can add a cargo floor, bins, and other equipment to the incomplete vehicle.
Fleet customers also can add toolboxes and various partitions or a cage. When it’s set up as a delivery vehicle, the Bolt EV Cargo can provide about 66 cubic feet for rear cargo, which is 10 cubic feet above a standard Bolt EV with its rear seats folded down.
Chevrolet isn’t viewing the Bolt EV Cargo as a replacement for its Chevrolet City Express compact van, which was discontinued earlier this year, said Mike Batchik, GM Fleet’s commercial product manager of passenger cars.
“The City Express had a lot more cargo capacity,” Batchik said in a statement. “I don’t see it as replacement. I see as it as a short delivery car, an around town delivery car.”
The Bolt EV Cargo, which is based on the Opel Ampera in Europe, also uses steel wheels with a wheel cover rather than the aluminum alloy wheels that come standard with the retail vehicle. GM also takes out the side thorax air bag and deletes the cord set that enables 110-volt charging. It comes with a J1772 combination charging port that supports 240-volt AC or 480-volt DC charging, but the DC fast-charging cable is a $900 option.
The vehicle can improve a fleet’s total cost of ownership because the preventive maintenance needed is minimal, according to the company. Fleet managers need to replace the tires at 70,000 miles and change the cabin air filter every two years.
Chevrolet gives fleet customers a $1,000 credit for the rear seat delete. The 2019 Bolt EV Cargo retails for $36,620.
Adrian Steel and Knapheide have developed auxiliary equipment for the vehicle to help delivery companies set up the vehicle for the job at hand. The companies use GM’s ship-thru network to deliver it to their facilities. Knapheide ships the vehicles to Flint, Mich., for a $350 fee, and adds the cargo floor for $1,350. The company also offers several choices of Sortimo bins.
The Bolt EV Cargo has found an early adopter in The Yerba Mate Co., a beverage distributor of Guayaki Yerba Mate that has either leased or ordered nearly 100 Bolt EV Cargo vehicles on top of the current fleet of Bolt EV vehicles they utilize. John Wilds, the company’s fleet director, maintains a fleet of about 130 vehicles that will add 60 Bolt EV Cargo cars in early 2020.
“Our aspiration is to be 100 percent fossil fuel free with our fleet,” Wilds said in a statement. “The Bolt EV fit both a practical price point and has a longer mile range.”
Because the cargo version gets commercial plates, it’s well suited to deliveries in more dense urban centers such as New York City, where it can legally double park and use loading zones.
Drivers are given a ChargePoint card, and Wilds often sets up the delivery routes so drivers reach an EV charging station while making deliveries, as this supplements the after-hours charging done in preparation for the next day. With 240-volt charging, the Bolt EV can return 25 miles for every hour charged.
Enhancements for Ford’s F-Series Super Duty line include new gas and diesel engines, an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission, chassis upgrades, interior and exterior design updates and smart advanced technology.
The all-new Ford-designed-and-built 7.3-liter V8 engine joins the 6.2-liter V8 in its lineup. The Ford-designed and Ford-built third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8 has been upgraded to deliver more power and torque. The new Ford-designed and Ford-built 10-speed heavy-duty TorqShift automatic transmission is paired with the 7.3-liter V8 and third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel V8. Ford designs and builds all of its heavy-duty engine and transmission combinations — ensuring the powertrain works seamlessly with all chassis components and vehicle calibrations, the company says.
The 7.3-liter gas V8 engine is designed for high performance in a compact package. It uses an all-new cam-in-block, overhead valve architecture with cast iron block and forged steel crankshaft for maximum durability. Port injection with variable-valve timing optimizes the intake and exhaust to match performance with workloads. Oil jets cool the pistons under heavy loads.
Super Duty’s third-generation 6.7-liter Power Stroke includes a new 36,000-PSI fuel injection system with all-new injectors that precisely meter and spray as many as eight times for each stroke to control noise levels and optimize combustion. The innovative inboard exhaust diesel V8 features a redesigned electronic-actuated variable-geometry turbocharger that provides improved pumping efficiency and throttle response. Structural enhancements increase the strength of the cylinder head, block, connecting rods and bearings to handle higher cylinder pressure and increased output. New steel pistons provide higher firing pressure capability and less friction — meaning improved performance and more horsepower and torque, the company says.
The truck’s standard 6.2-liter gas V8 offers heavy-duty truck customers proven capability at an affordable price, Ford says.
Ford also is making its new 10-speed TorqShift automatic transmission available across all three Super Duty engine offerings for the new 2020 model. This TorqShift features a wider gear ratio span than the 6-speed and is designed for the harshest towing conditions.
This electronically controlled transmission has selectable drive modes that include normal, tow/haul, eco, slippery, and deep sand and snow.
Additionally, Ford says its Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes negotiating even the largest trailers into the tightest of spaces easier than ever before. With hands off the steering wheel, drivers use the Pro Trailer Backup Assist knob to easily steer the trailer via the reverse camera. The truck’s Trailer Reverse Guidance system shows trailer angle and direction, and provides steering suggestions to most efficiently direct a trailer backward. Both systems are built to accommodate all trailer styles, including fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailers.
In today’s delivery market, staying connected is essential. Every new 2020 Super Duty includes FordPass Connect embedded 4G LTE modem with Wi-Fi access for as many as 10 devices, keeping crews in communication no matter where the job might take them, it says.
An available lane-keeping alert helps drivers to stay between the lines on the road, while the Blind Spot Information System with trailer coverage monitors for vehicles in the driver’s blind spots — even when towing. Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking aids in avoiding or mitigating collisions with other vehicles. These features are standard on XLT and above Super Duty models.
Super Duty’s LED headlamps have a new look with improved performance, while high series trucks feature continuous signature lighting. An improved front bumper and air dam optimize cooling and make using utility hooks easier. A freshened tailgate design, revised tail lamps and new rear bumper convey bolder Built Ford Tough style.
Decorative appliqués on the doors and media bin door have been updated on Lariat, while on Platinum edition trucks, these pieces have been updated to Onyx Argento wood. The interior of the Limited model is completely refreshed, with colors updated to Ebony and Highland Tan to provide a refined, modern feel.
Ram’s ProMaster cargo van sports a number of new features for the 2020 models, including a factory-installed trailer hitch with maximum towing capacity of 6,800 pounds, as well as new, 136-inch wheelbase models — 2500 standard roof, 3500 standard roof and 3500 high roof. The 2020 ProMaster also benefits from an exclusive front-wheel-drive system, reducing weight and complexity by concentrating all components beneath the cab. Ram officials explain that this keeps the cargo-load-floor height and step-in height very low, offering an ergonomic advantage for the operator. It also helps in low-traction surfaces — especially snow — because weight always is on the front wheels to provide traction, the company says.
The 2020 ProMaster also features the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Eighteen specific models make up the ProMaster 1500, 2500 and 3500 lines, with available exterior colors that include black, bright silver metallic, bright white, broom yellow, deep cherry red, crystal pearl, flame red, granite crystal metallic, patriot blue pearl, sandstone pearl and school bus yellow.
Nissan has announced a $29,890 to $36,160 MSRP range for its 2020 NV Cargo Van, available now at select Nissan Commercial Vehicles dealers nationwide. The NV Cargo Van is available with a 375-horsepower, 5.6-liter Endurance V8 gas engine with a heavy-duty, seven-speed automatic transmission. It also is offered with a fuel-efficient, 261-horsepower, 4.0-liter V6 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission. Three models are available: NV1500, NV2500 HD and NV3500 HD and in two roof configurations: Standard Roof and High Roof. According to Ward’s Light Vehicle Segmentation, the 2020 Nissan NV Cargo Van is the only available High Roof model with rugged body-on-frame construction within the vehicle segment. All NV Cargo models comes with bumper-to-bumper limited warranty coverage of five years or 100,000 miles. BI