The example of the Cascadia driven by PowerTorque in a road test is the truck which will be used by many fleets as the road transport workhorse, as it plies its trade on Australia’s highways. This is the day cab Cascadia 116, fitted with the Detroit DD16 engine rated at 505 hp (377 kW) and putting out 2508Nm (1850 ft lb) of torque. The transmission is the Detroit DT12 AMT, although traditionalists can opt for a manual RoadRanger gearbox if they so desire.
Unlike their counterparts in North America, Freightliner here in Australia have decided to retain the front and rear axle options with which Australians are more familiar, supplied by Meritor. The suspension is the familiar Freightliner Airliner.
These specification choices demonstrate the North American philosophy of truck design. This truck is highly sophisticated and state-of-the-art in certain places, but, at the same time, enables truck buyers to make choices which they are more comfortable about.
Where the Daimler trucks in Europe leave the driver in no doubt that this is a highly sophisticated modern 21st-century truck, the output from the same company in the US is designed to make the driver comfortable with plenty of familiar aspects to the design and specification. This is essentially where the difference between the two ways of looking at truck design can be seen at their most obvious.
It is almost possible to forget that this truck has all of these highly sophisticated systems, as it looks so similar to its predecessors and one small screen on the dashboard does not suggest a state-of-the-art 21st-century truck.
The fact of the matter is however, that the systems do work really well and are effective doing what they’re supposed to. It is possible to drive his truck, pretty much, semi autonomously all of the time. Click it into drive on the transmission controller, release the 20th century maxi brakes and you are off on a smooth and effective drive.
The combination of a fully loaded B-double and a 13L engine means that the transmission really has to do the hard yards to keep progress going out on the road. This is a very responsive transmission, which is receiving enough data for it to make intelligent decisions at the right time and in the right way.
On the Cascadia, the system using topographical maps to inform the engine and transmission about the road ahead is called Intelligent Powertrain Management. This system relies upon the correct mapping being available for the highway on which the truck is driving and for the truck to know exactly where it is. Sometimes, this relatively new concept does not get all of its data, but when it does it does make the correct decision at the foot of an incline, ready for climbing or just before a down grade.
There is no doubt that the Cascadia is a truck which has created a lot of interest. The reasons for this interest become even more obvious after some time behind the wheel of the new truck. There are so many things that Freightliner (or should that be Daimler) have got right for a road transport workhorse. The integration of the various systems is nearly as seamless as it is in the truck’s sister, the Actros.