Forged from the most extensive, rigorous product development process in the company’s history, Peterbilt Motors Company unveiled its all-new Model 579 during the Mid-America Trucking Show March 22-24 in Louisville KY.

“The all-new 579 goes beyond meeting a market demand for an exceptional vehicle that satisfies both the bottom-line and operator expectations,” said Bill Kozek, Peterbilt general manager and PACCAR vice-president. “The 579 integrates legendary Peterbilt quality and innovation with a product platform that delivers in every aspect of vehicle performance, productivity and safety. From optimized cab dimensions to an enhanced chassis design, and from driver amenities to a revamped electrical system--every design element of the 579 was analyzed and engineered to provide real-world benefits and business solutions that exceed industry trends.”

While the look is unmistakably Peterbilt, the 579 features distinctive new styling that goes far deeper than just exterior beauty. According to Landon Sproull, Peterbilt chief engineer, performance and productivity drove the design process.

“Maximizing fuel economy was a priority and we achieved best-in-class aerodynamic efficiency through Computational Fluid Dynamics and subsequent wind tunnel testing,” he said. “The 579’s interior design process was no less exacting than the aerodynamic exterior, and the results are a lineup of trim packages and driver amenities that are unmatched in the industry.”

The cab structure is a new design that features greater strength and enhanced safety. The 2.1-meter-wide, aluminum cab is strong, solid and lightweight. Both cab and sleeper were tested to the stringent SAE and ECE crashworthiness standards.

Aerodynamic performance is enhanced through modular aero packages that meet the EPA’s SmartWay designation. Sproull said the aero packages are designed to meet customer optimized requirements, with variable length chassis fairings, sleeper extenders and rubber flares, under-cab close-outs and under-fairing skirts.

The aerodynamic bumper is a three-piece design so individual sections can be replaced if they are damaged, improving serviceability and reducing costs. The bumper is available with a molded-in-color finish that eliminates cosmetic issues if it is scratched or damaged and a painted finish that is durable and can be matched to any color.

The aero hood also has a three-piece design that is lightweight, durable and easy to service. It features the company’s most efficient tilt assist system that reduces lift effort to 25 pounds. Incorporated into the hood pivot system are supports that direct energy around the cooling module in the event of certain types of accidents – such as impact with an animal – that minimizes damage and helps allow the operator to drive the truck to a safe location for repairs.

Sproull said two cab trim levels are available for the 579--the Platinum, a luxurious and elegant interior with woodgrain highlights throughout the cab and sleeper; and the Prestige, an optimal balance between comfort and functionality. Both are available in a choice of Buckskin Tan and Titanium Gray, with optional Burgundy accents in the Platinum.

The main instrumentation panel has easy-to-read gauges that are completely visible through the steering wheel, as is the color, five-inch Driver Information Display which provides a new engine-RPM sweet-spot indicator to help drivers maximize fuel economy and the capability to display virtual gauges. The secondary gauge display area can accommodate six optional gauges or Peterbilt’s SmartNav driver infotainment center.

Peterbilt’s new Evolution seats are the ideal complement to the quiet and comfortable 579. “These new seats strike a perfect balance between comfort and support,” Sproull said. “They have a wide cushion with optimized foam density and provide exceptional lumbar support.” The Evolution ST seat is standard and can be upgraded with optional heating elements and the premium Evolution LX features two-chamber lumbar support, adjustable side bolsters, adjustable suspension dampening, heating and ventilation options, a swivel option and additional storage pockets.

Recognizing that a driver’s at-rest environment is as important to overall productivity as the operating environment, numerous amenities were built into the detachable, sleeper. Among the features of the 579’s sleeper are:

*Extensive use of LED lighting;

*Convenient pull-out workstation;

*Abundant side and rear wall cabinet storage;

*Wall-to-wall, 85-inch premium mattress;

*Liftable bunk for additional storage and service access to HVAC and audio components;

*Optional mid-height refrigerator;

*Optional mounting bracket for a 22-inch flat-panel television that includes an inverter, fourth battery and convenient duplex power outlets;

*DVD/Video game console shelf with cable pass-through to the television and power outlets; and

*Oversized wardrobe closets

Maximum visibility is achieved through a panoramic-style windshield that is also thicker than previous designs for improved noise insulation and chip resistance. The cab’s A-pillar design is 20-percent narrower than competitive designs, further improving visibility without sacrificing strength. Doors are newly designed with a durable, aluminum double-wall structure that reduces weight. Built to withstand harsh conditions, the new hidden gravity-hinge system requires little effort to close doors and provides an airtight seal upon closing to reduce wind noise. Rounding out the entry package is a new amber, lower-door LED signature light.

The state-of-the-art forward lighting system produces superior down-road visibility while reducing operator fatigue. Standard halogen headlamps emit even beam patterns and the fog lamps eliminate hotspots. Separate daytime running lamps maximize headlamp life and improve safety.

When redesigning the Model 579’s electrical system, Sproull said the goal was to create a robust architecture that optimized routings. “Electrical system integrity was a key focus during the development of the 579,” Sproull said. “The result is an all-new system that includes innovative protection and routing design elements.”

Additional electrical system enhancements include angled dress covers that reduce pin tension and provide additional protection to connections and routing troughs. Sproull said the cab electrical and air connections, air intake filter, A/C service ports and fresh-air filter are mounted to the firewall for easy access. “But perhaps the most innovative improvement to the electrical system are the new electric-over-air rocker switches that enable critical interlocks,” said Sproull. “Not only does this technology remove air plumbing from the dash, it ensures the correct operation settings of critical systems.”  ♦

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