A FUTURISTIC truck bound for Australia has been revealed in the US.
Navistar, the company that makes International trucks and sister CAT CT versions for sale in markets such as Australia, revealed the Project Horizon concept at Louisville’s Mid America Truck Show last month.
It features new design elements and several cutting-edge technologies aimed at slashing fuel consumption on future International Prostar and the equivalent CAT model to be sold locally.
The most exciting features include active grille shutters, car-like independent front suspension and special slim wing mirrors that drastically reduce drag.
One of the key people behind the Project Horizon truck is Navistar Integrated product development chief Denny Mooney.
Mooney was the president of Holden from 2004 to 2007 before leaving General Motors in 2009.
He has just been promoted as Navistar tries to bounce back after a series of poor decisions led it to the brink of disaster. Navistar builds the International Prostar and CAT CT models in Illinois.
The company is looking for a comeback under new president Troy Clarke and Project Horizon is the first example of the direction it wants to take.
Clarke made sure during his presentation that the truck was not the symbol of a far distant vision, but something that could be seen on the road in two to three years.
Mooney told Working Wheels that future Australian CT CAT trucks would take on many of the features of the International truck, which would follow on from the concept vehicle.
‘‘Fuel economy is important in Australia right?’’ Mooney says.
‘‘So any changes would flow right in to the CAT.’’
One of the most noticeable features of the Project Horizon truck is the active grille. The louvres are electronically controlled and open or close depending on whether air is required in the engine bay. Closing them dramatically reduces the drag, with Navistar’s computer modelling suggesting a 5 per cent aerodynamic improvement.
‘‘If you’re running down the road with not much load on the back, you hardly need any cooling, so they can shut and deliver aero advantage,’’ Mooney says.
The system, similar to those available on some cars and the Dodge Ram ute, senses load and engine temperature. Some US truckers already use a much more basic grille cover, which is like a car bra, to stop air-flow in the cold of winter so the en- gine fluids maintain reasonable temperature.
The Project Horizon truck has a much cleaner look than the existing Prostar and changes have been made to the cab. Front corner vent windows, which were fitted to allow for smoking, have been eliminated, along with a pillar, which improves air flow.
The regular wing mirrors, with traditional top and bottom mount have been replaced with a slimmer, one-armed, pedestal mirror that delivers a 1.5 per cent aerodynamics improvement.
There are also side skirts
a that run the length of the prime mover. Mooney concedes that while there is little doubt these save fuel and money, having part of a panel so close to tyres can cause issues.
‘‘This is a real benefit here, but you blow a tyre and they rip them apart or they get hit when changing trailers,’’ Mooney says.
Another efficiency gain comes from the use of LEDs for the tail-lights and special tube lights that run down the side of the truck, using reflectors for added effect while weighing less.
The front end features a new sharper guard design and fresh headlights.
Navistar design and innovation chief, Chris Ito, explains that the shape moves on from the current rounded jellybean look of the Prostar and CAT CT.
‘‘As aerodynamic sophistication has evolved, we know that sheer lines are actually better,’’ he says.
‘‘It is a functional attribute, but it also keeps it more contemporary.’’
Ito says he didn’t want the truck to look too contemporary, though: ‘‘We didn’t want to make it too trendy, because it’s going to have to endure for 10 years.’’