2020 had a difficult start for the semitruck manufacturers. A sudden fall in demand due to Covid 19 at the beginning of the year and uncertainty for the demand for new trucks led to production cuts and layoffs. The global demand for new commercial vehicle was estimated to drop 22 percent in April 2020.
The second part of the year brought a “stellar” spot market rates and increased demand for trucks. The semi-truck manufacturers were slow to ramp up production and most orders in August and September 2020 were estimated to be booked for the first quarter of 2021.
In this volatile environment there are not a lot of news on the new long-haul semi – truck front, because most OEM did not want to take major risks.
In the so described economic situation, all manufacturers were focused on lowering the overall cost of ownership trough fuel efficiency, decreasing downtimes trough investments in their dealer networks and use of technology for predictive maintenance. Further all manufacturers now offer standard or optional safety features that are well accepted in smaller vehicles. Finally, all manufacturers try to help their motor carrier customers to address the commercial truck driver shortage by offering better amenities for the driver such as better driver controls, larger and more advanced seats, and larger and more ergonomic cabins of the truck sleeper.
We have devised a 4-part series that will review the new features of the most popular over the road class 8 trucks in America. Our first truck is the 2020 Freightliner Cascadia
#1 2021 Freightliner Cascadia
Freightliner is the market leader in the class 8 space, holding at the end of 2019 36.5 percent market share in the class 8 space. The 2021 model is already in the dealerships and improves on the successful 2020 Freightliner. The Cascadia continues to be a be a favorite to many fleets.
The 2021 model boasts better safety with Freightliner's proprietary Active Break Assist System and the adaptive cruise control. When applied the systems can keep safe following distance. Freightliner says that the Cascadia will be the first truck on American roads with level 2 automation, meaning assistance in both forward and lateral direction. Like systems in passenger cars Cascadia will automatically aid the driver in staying in the lane and warn of traffic in the truck’s blind spots.
A central feature of the Freightliner Cascadia is the integrated DD13 or DD15 Engine and the automated D12 Transmission. Amazingly the powertrain improved the fuel efficiency of the Freightliner Cascadia by 35 percent compared to the 2007 Model. In the 2021 Model the D12 transmission is further improved by offering more robust gears improving the overall ratio from 15 to 19 leading to improved efficiency. The DT12 – He transmission offers intelligent powertrain management taking advantage from the topography of the truck surroundings derived from the built-in GPS device to adjust engine and transmission setting for better fuel economy. The integrated powertrain offers idling as low as 500RPM when off throttle.
Like other manufacturers, Freightliner bets on better connectivity of the truck with the operator and with the Freightliner’s maintenance facilities.
With steady investments in efficiency and drivability the 2020 Freightliner Cascadia is an excellent choice for both fleets and trucking owner operators. The excellent performance year over year explain Freightliner Cascadia’s dominance in the class 8 truck marketplace.
Please read next week about our review of the 2021 Peterbilt 579