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International unveils the ProStar Class 8 flagship aerodynamic tractor at world’s largest Trucking Show

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March 28, 2006

International unveils the ProStar Class 8 flagship aerodynamic tractor at world’s largest ...

International unveils the ProStar Class 8 flagship aerodynamic tractor at world’s largest Trucking Show

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March 29, 2006 International took the opportunity of the largest trucking show in the world to unveil its new new flagship aerodynamic tractor on the weekend. The International ProStar is the company's new Class 8 heavy truck, and is the result of five years and $300 million in development, including the continuous collaboration of dealer and customer advisory boards. The International ProStar is designed to provide best-in-class fuel economy, unparalleled driver satisfaction, unprecedented uptime and lowest cost of ownership.

The ProStar took centre stage at the Mid America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky, this past weekend.

"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 Corporation. "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."

Best in Class Fuel Economy

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. Its aerodynamic shape catapults International further ahead of the competition when it comes to crucial fuel economy performance. 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 eight 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. The new International ProStar will turn heads on the highway and at the pump. Owners will love the way this truck saves money and generates profits, and drivers will love the drivability and comfort we've packed inside."

Unparalleled Driver Satisfaction

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 as they take in the superior view of the road. 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.

"The integrity and durability of the new International ProStar cab delivers a smoother, quieter ride, minimizing driver fatigue and maximizing productivity," added Baughman. "The objective is for the driver to feel confident, comfortable and secure."

Unprecedented Uptime

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."

Downtime can be caused by a variety of factors and components, including tires, electrical harnesses, connectors, batteries, air leaks, air brakes and fuel systems, to name a few. With so many moving pieces to track, the International ProStar has been designed with monitoring, prognostic and diagnostic systems to help fleet managers and drivers better anticipate and handle issues causing downtime.

However, achieving unprecedented uptime at International Truck and Engine involves more than the systems available to a customer when they take delivery. The company is working to identify and eliminate potential vehicle problems before these trucks are even in customers' hands.

Since 2004, more than 25 production validation tractors have been on the road accumulating more than six million miles of road testing, including internal test vehicles and customer test units.

The internal test units are subjected to rigorous performance, reliability and accelerated durability tests to ensure longevity for long haul, regional haul and bulk applications. Internal testing includes 10 simulated years of shaker testing and significant corrosion testing.

Finally, test vehicles were put in the hands of customers hauling freight for private carrier and major truckload and LTL for-hire carriers in diverse applications, geographic and climate conditions.

Lowest Cost of Ownership

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" BBC (bumper-to-back-of-cab) tractors with day cab 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.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon After Editing or Managing over 50 print publications primarily in the role of a Magazine Doctor, Mike embraced the internet full-time in 1995 and became a "start-up all-rounder" – quite a few start-ups later, he founded Gizmag in 2002. Now he can write again.   All articles by Mike Hanlon
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