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FREIGHTLINER has unveiled its new Cascadia Class 8 tractor, developed as a replacement for the Century and Columbia models, both of which will be discontinued in 2010. Production of the new vehicle, available in daycab and sleeper versions, begins in August.

Constructed on an entirely new platform, the Cascadia is the first Freightliner built and engineered using the company's Portland, Oregon, wind tunnel — the only testing facility of its kind in the world built specifically for Class 8 vehicles. The end result is a sleek tractor design with 20% less wind drag and a 3% gain in fuel efficiency, according to Michael Delaney, the company's senior vice-president of marketing. “That can amount to $1,200 to $1,500 or more in fuel savings a year per truck.”

In addition, the Cascadia was designed specifically for the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) 2007 engines. It will be able to adapt to the EPA 2010 engines as its expandable DaimlerChrysler-engineered electronic platform can accommodate new engine technology.

The Cascadia also was designed for easy optimization with the all-new 2010-ready Detroit Diesel heavy-duty engine family, the first of which will debut later this year. Known within DaimlerChrysler as the Heavy-Duty Engine Platform, this engine family will be used in DaimlerChrysler's Truck Group vehicles worldwide, following its launch in Freightliner vehicles. (Detroit Diesel, like Freightliner, is owned by DaimlerChrysler.)

Greater reliability and lower cost of maintenance was incorporated into the Cascadia as well. Ease-of-maintenance features include an HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system designed to reduce repair frequency, extended life headlamp bulbs, and easy access to the engine and its accessory components.

The two-piece, roped-in windshield can reportedly be replaced in as little as 16 minutes. The three-piece bumper and three-piece hood enable quick removal and replacement of a damaged section rather than the entire unit. Batteries have been moved forward on the frame, making them more accessible and quicker to change.

There are plenty of driver productivity-enhancing features. These include a 20% larger cab with automotive styling, larger seats for more head and belly room, larger door openings (29% wider) for easy entry and egress, easier-to-use switches and climate controls, extensive lighting, and lots of storage space.

With double door and window seals, improved engine and cab mounts, additional insulation and a hydraulic clutch, the cab offers reduced vibration and significantly less road noise. There is upgraded visibility due to redesigned mirrors, mounted on both the doors and the fender, and a larger windshield that also provides better upward sight lines.

The Cascadia is available in gross vehicle weight ratings of 35,000 to 71,000 pounds, with a gross combination weight rating of 92,000 pounds. The 455-horsepower Detroit Diesel Series 60 engine mated to an EatonFuller manual transmission is standard. Optional are MBE 4000 diesels with ratings of 370 to 450 hp, Caterpillar C15s with ratings from 435 to 550 hp, and UltraShift and AutoShift transmissions.

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