Kenworth used the Mid America Trucking Show to showcase a new exterior and interior for the K270/370 cabover medium-duty models due later this summer plus a special fuel economy-focused package for the T680 highway tractor that went into production during the first week of March.

Kevin Baney, Kenworth’s chief engineer, told Fleet Owner that the revamping of the K270 and K370 models occurred due to the imposition of Euro VI emission standards in Europe, which necessitated wider mounts for a larger cooling system due to offset the extra heat generated by exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology needed to reduce emissions.

“The chassis itself did not change; not even the width of the cab area changed,” he said. “But it offered us a chance to redesign the exterior look of the truck as well as make the interior more ergonomic from a driver perspective.”

Built off European cabover trucks made by DAF – which, like Kenworth, is a subsidiary of Paccar – the K270 and K370 will be produced in Mexico for the North American market starting later this summer.

Other new featuresfor Kenworth's revamped medium-duty cabovers include:

  • A standard air ride driver’s seat and 2-person bench seating with storage underneath for both the K270 and K370 models, along with a new option: single driver and passenger seats with a large console with cup holders in between;
  • Available wheelbases range from 142 to 242 inches in 12-inch increments, so the K270 and K370 can accommodate bodies from 16 to 28 feet. 
  • Powered by the 6.7-liter PACCAR PX-7 engine, offering from 200 to 250 hp and up to 660 lb.-ft. of torque, both the K270 and K370 can now be equipped with a 6-speed Allison transmission with new push-button control shifter;
  • New Dana axles as well as new front air disc brakes for improved stopping power and longer brake life;
  • As part of the braking system, a new “electronic braking module” that will allow for the addition of stability control later this year;
  • For specialized applications, a  new “clear rail” package that relocates the air tanks, DEF tank, battery box, and exhaust after treatment up behind the cab. This new option opens up room for custom bodies, such as street sweepers.

The new T680 “Advantage” fuel efficiency package, which Kenworth first showed off at the 2013 Mid America show as a demonstration model only, went into production during the first week of March and supposedly delivers a 1% fuel economy gain due to its aerodynamic enhancements alone.

The factory-installed aerodynamic treatments include longer side extenders for the T680 76-inch sleeper, lower cab fairing extenders, front air dam, aerodynamic mud flaps, rear fairing without steps coupled with an air deflector, exhaust cut out covers, optional wheel covers for drive tires, a weight-saving 6x2 axle configuration and wide-base tires.

An “optimized” powertrain combining Paccar’s MX-13 engine integrated with an Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission then delivers another 2% in fuel savings.

New software programing and lubrication strategy for the next generation MX-13 delivers another 1% fuel economy gain, noted Baney, with yet another 1% expected from more efficient drive axles expected to be offered by May this year. “Altogether that adds up to a 5% fuel savings,” he said.

To date, Baney noted that over 1,500 orders have been placed for the T680 “Advantage” spec since it became available in early March

Gary Moore, Kenworth’s GM, noted that the OEM is projecting total Class 8 industry sales of 210,000 to 240,000 units in 2014 – along with 65,000 to 70,000 medium-duty units – in part due to the better fuel economy newer truck models can offer.

“It’s really all about fuel economy now,” he told Fleet Owner. “If you can even delivery 1/10th of a mile per gallon worth of fuel savings, that adds up to a lot of money for a fleet operating a hundred trucks over thousands of miles per week.”

Other items Kenworth highlighted at this year’s Mid America show included:

  • The addition of the Eaton Fuller Advantage 10-speed automated transmission as an option for T680 long-haul or regional applications;
  • A new factory-installed battery-powered idle management system now available as an option for the T680 76-inch sleeper model;
  • A T680 natural gas-powered option being readied for the second half of 2014;
  • That the T680 and new T880 model rolled out in December 2013 now comprise 50% of Kenworth production volume;
  • That the OEM has built over 1,000 T880 units since its December introduction with another 1,500 on back order;
  • That sales of Paccar’s MX-13 engine eclipsed 51,000 units in 2013 from just 4,000 units when first introduced back in 2010;
  • And that the OEM plans to launch what it calls a driver performance assistant or “DPA” in-cab system this July.