REDEFINING high performance in terms of driver acceptance and life cycle costs, International Truck and Engine Corporation introduced its new family of medium trucks on February 14, 2001, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The three-day event was attended by more than 2,300 people, including 700 dealer representatives, 800 invited customers, numerous International corporate officials and support staff, investment analysts, and the trade press.

The specific introduction was for the new 4000 series. New versions of the 7000 and 8000 series trucks will follow shortly. International already is building the new 4000 at a rate of 48 a day and will reach full production of 130 a day by the end of March. The new 8500 can be ordered starting in May and will reach full production in October. Ordering for the new 7000 will begin in the summer, and production will reach its projected peak in December 2001. The new trucks are intended to increase International's medium truck market share, which already approaches 40%, company officials said.

Technology development for the new line of trucks began in 1995. Actual design work commenced in October 1997. After prototypes were completed, 11 of the new vehicles were placed with fleets for 18 months of field testing.

Better Financial Performance

The new 4000 series trucks focus on helping fleets run a profitable business by helping retain drivers, reduce preventive maintenance costs, and cut repair times. The trucks are designed and built to perform on a higher level of financial and operational productivity that customers can take to the bank, says Steve Keate, president of International's truck group. The first entirely new medium truck design from International in more than 20 years — following the S-series, introduced in New Orleans in 1977, which are still the basis for current International designs — the new medium trucks are projected to operate for $4,000 to $6,000 less than current models during an average service life. This projection is based on a life cycle of 200,000 miles for trucks operating an average of 30,000 miles per year.

Explaining International's definition of high performance, Keate said that the new trucks help businesses improve financial performance, that they help drivers work more productively, and that they allow service technicians to do more maintenance and repair in a shorter time.

Although the trucks are an all new design, International chose to retain the same system of model numbers already in use for its medium trucks. Keeping the same model numbers helps maintain a sense of continuity and consistency for International customers, Keate said.

Multiplex Wiring Harness

A new wiring harness that makes extensive use of multiplexing technology is responsible for much of the projected maintenance saving. New 4000-series trucks contain 40% less wiring than previous trucks that do not take advantage of new technology that routes multiple electrical signals through a single wire. This system allows the use of a single wire to a remote power module for the truck body.

In addition, International's new trucks will be simpler to order, easier to build, and more economical to operate. For instance, the new trucks are available with only 34 different powertrain combinations, down from more than 800 such combinations in previous trucks. For the purposes of this claim, International defines powertrain combinations as engines and transmissions. Drive axles are not considered a part of the equation. The 34 powertrain combinations include only International diesel engines, Eaton six- and nine-speed transmissions, one TTC six-plus-one transmission, or Allison automatic transmissions.

The change in powertrain combinations represents real world application of the trucks. “We cut the available horsepower offerings to only those that customers actually use,” said Mark Stasell, vice-president of product design.

Intuitive Shifting Automatics

Trucks with automatic transmissions can be equipped with Intuitive Shifting controllers that optimize engine and transmission shift points for maximum performance and fuel economy. Developed jointly by International and Allison Transmission, the proprietary shift controller is programmed to shift the transmission much like an experienced driver operating a manual gearbox to keep the engine running at its most efficient speed. Like a well-trained driver, the controller shifts the transmission early under light load and later under a heavy load. This matches engine power curves with shift points for increased performance and engine reliability and improves fuel economy. Intuitive Shifting is available in new 4300 and 4400 trucks equipped with International DT466 or DT530 engines in combination with Allison 2000- or 3000-series transmissions. With Intuitive Shifting, engines measure accelerator pedal position, calculate the required action to achieve a desired response, and transmit the information to the transmission for improved response to throttle input from the driver.

International has quantified a number of improvements in its new medium truck design. In terms of driver comfort and safety, the new trucks come standard with high-back seating for improved body support and with built-in head restraints to minimize injury in accidents. The seating position in relation to the steering wheel allows 4½ inches of additional belly room. Getting to the seats is easier as well. New trucks have low offset steps, wide door openings, and grabhandles positioned inside the cab.

In addition, new trucks have a lower hood and 60% greater windshield area for improved visibility. Improved fit and finish of body panels has reduced interior noise level by 33%, which plays a major role in reducing driver fatigue, Keate said. Another factor in reducing driver fatigue is the position of the accelerator, brake, and clutch pedals. Placement has been improved and operating angles adjusted for reduced operator effort. The clutch pedal requires only light pressure to depress.

Air-conditioning Improvements

International has made major improvements in cab heating and air-conditioning. The new design makes a 100% improvement in air-conditioning compared to previous International trucks, and heat distribution is improved 200% with larger ducts and larger vents.

All gauges in the new 4000 series are electric. This eliminates the need for extensive plumbing behind the instrument panel.

One cab feature is conspicuous by its absence. The new 4000 series is not equipped with an air bag. Extensive discussions with customers showed no demand for an air bag, so it was not included. However, the truck is designed in such a way that air bags can be added when the need arises.

The 4000 series is built on a new frame that is stronger and lighter than the frame on previous International trucks. The new frame weighs 300 lb less than before and offers better yield strength and a higher resistance bending moment. The frame is covered by a seven-year frame rail warranty.

Ride and handling are improved with taper leaf springs on the front axle and rubber auxiliary springs on the rear suspension. These rubber springs come into play only when needed to reduce body lean, so they have no part in normal ride characteristics. Increased front axle wheel cut makes the new 4000 series more maneuverable than its predecessor.

Ease of Maintenance

International has enhanced performance of the new 4000 series in the shop as well. The truck is designed with components positioned for easy access and service. For instance, all fill points are located close together on the street side of the engine compartment. The company suggests that the time required for maintenance and repairs will be 20% less than for the previous 4000 series.

Powerplants for the new trucks are restricted to International's DT466 and DT530 in-line six cylinder diesels. Ratings for the DT466 are 195 horsepower, 215 hp, 230 hp, or 250 hp. The DT530 is available at ratings of 275 hp, 300 hp, or 330 hp.

Engines have been enhanced to improve performance and serviceability in the new truck line. Oil capacity has been increased to 30.3 quarts, and glass fiber content in the oil filter has been raised from 7% to 15%. These changes allow oil change intervals to be extended to 15,000 miles. A new fuel filter design allows use to be extended to 30,000 miles before replacement. Extended life coolant can be used for 150,000 miles before servicing and eliminates the need for a water filter in the cooling system.

International says fleets that set maintenance intervals for the new trucks in multiples of 15,000 miles can reduce downtime and labor costs. The new maintenance intervals are 25% greater than those recommended for previous International medium trucks.