How Times Have Changed
For Big-Bore Truck Engines
STREET SMARTS IS A MONTHLY
COLUMN DEVOTED TO THE
ON-HIGHWAY ENGINE MARKET.
JIM WINSOR IS
EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF
HEAVY DUTY TRUCKING
Today’s Class 8 truck diesel engines, whether over-the-road or in
vocational markets, come with displacements and power ratings to meet
every truckers’ needs. We’re talking
engine displacements of 10 L and above
and ratings from 250 to 600 hp. They pretty much cover today’s on-highway truck
applications. Midrange power is a separate story.
And what changes in less than 25
years! Before that time, in the U.S. markets, venerable Mack Trucks was the only
Class 8 truck builder making its own
diesels. All other truck OEMs bought their
power from Cummins, Caterpillar or
Detroit Diesel. And Cummins was king of
the mountain of marketshare.
It’s a different world today, with most
manufacturers offering their own in-house powerplants and with the traditional brands being used as options. There
are the Mack/Volvo new engine families
built in Sweden, with final assembly and
tailoring to the Mack or Volvo products in
Volvo North America’s engine plant in
Paccar (Kenworth and Peterbilt) has
recently gone into its own branded
engines through its ties to DAF. International Trucks (Navistar) has a new
engine family in the works in cooperation
with Germany’s MAN. While all this is
going on, Cummins remains the predominant supplier of big-bore engines to
International, and Cat and Cummins split
most of the business at KW and Pete.
Navistar International remains Cummins’
largest big-bore truck engine customer.
Freightliner, the largest volume Class 8
seller in the U.S. for years now, believe it or
not, was originally the truck manufacturing
subsidiary of Consolidated Freightways,
the giant LTL for-hire freight hauler.
Leyland James, who founded CF, wanted
a lightweight COE tractor with aluminum
cab, and there wasn’t any on the market so
he said, “we’ll build our own”… and he did.
To get increased volume and sell outside
its own company, CF entered a great marketing arrangement with the former White
Motor Co., and White sold it through its dealer organization as the White Freightliner.
Most people thought it was a White Motor
product. It wasn’t, but at one time it was
White’s highest volume selling model.
After trucking deregulation, CF sold
Freightliner to Daimler Benz, which was
dying to get into the burgeoning North
American Class 8 truck business. Daimler
paid megabucks for Freightliner and shortly thereafter cancelled its marketing contract with White — then set up its own dealer organization — no small undertaking.
Losing Freightliner was the beginning of
the end of White Motor Co. as a stand-alone company. Volvo later bought it and
for a while it was Volvo White Truck Corp.
For well over a decade now, Freightliner
Corp., with a full line of conventionals and a
low cab-forward for the refuse market, has
the highest percent of the Class 8 market.
Detroit Diesel Allison Division of
General Motors, with its popular line of
two-cycle diesels in a 71 and 92 Series,
plus its family of 50 and 60 Series four-cycle diesels, was a major engine player to
all the truck OEs for years. The two-
bangers left the truck market after EPA
emissions rules limiting NOx made it
apparent that the two-cycle concept was
no longer technically viable for on-highway. They were great engines for many
fleets, small in physical size, popular especially in short BBC tractors and the only
engines for decades in General Motors
transit buses and highway motor coaches.
Class 8 truck diesels today fall in displacements ranging from 10 L to about 16 L.
The Cummins 11 L engine is popular for its
light weight in weight-sensitive applications and in under-400 hp markets. Its big,
double overhead cam ISX is its big seller
up to 600 hp and currently the market
share leader in the over-400 hp markets.
Similarly, Cat competes with engines in
the same displacement and horsepower
ranges with its “King of the Hill” rating of
625 hp among the most powerful engines
available in on-highway trucks. For years,
Cat also had its own V- 8 diesels as power
for Ford midrange trucks. These were very
popular, especially in Ford’s venerable C
series of low cab-over trucks and tractors.
It’s important to note that since the
advent of EPA diesel engine emissions
regulations and the changeover to electronic fuel injection and engine controls,
the days of the so-called drop-in vendor-supplied engines are just about gone. The
engines discussed earlier are tailored
specifically to the brands and drivetrains
they’re matched to.
Electronic boxes that control engine
performance and horsepower ratings are
set at the factory, and only selected dealer
technicians have access to this information. Yes, it’s a whole new world out there
for diesel engines, but especially truck