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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.’’

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