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It’s the trucking world’s version of Ali vs. Frazier. Freightliner and International are in an all-out flame-war over the aerodynamic superlatives attached to their new Cascadia and ProStar models.
Freightliner struck first when it introduced its new Cascadia model at the end of August as the most aerodynamic Class 8 truck available. Putting the new truck up against the International ProStar, Kenworth T660, Peterbilt 386 and Volvo 780 in a wind tunnel test, Freightliner announced that Cascadia was the definitive winner. “We read our competitor’s claims on aerodynamics and wonder if they were based on comparisons with older models or against models with very different specs,” Michael Delaney, senior vice president of marketing, declared. “It didn’t appear to be scientifically based. Aerodynamics efficiency isn’t a function of looks — it’s about measured air flow resistance. We were confident the Cascadia would prove to be superior in this area when solid science was applied.”
International roared back within a week. After all, they had unveiled the ProStar in 2006 with an emphasis on aerodynamics, fuel efficiency and, yes, good looks. The Freightliner claim certainly seemed specifically directed to ProStar, and the response was a swift press release denying the Cascadia claims. “No truck that we have tested has outperformed our new ProStar in testing to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) standards, which include the whole trailer as well as the tractor in real-word simulations. Freightliner simply cannot say that,” said Steve Gilligan, assistant general manager of International’s Heavy Vehicle Center.
International next called a press conference to talk about a head-to-head, tractor/trailer road test: ProStar vs. Cascadia. “New independent on-road testing confirms that International Truck and Engine Corporation’s ProStar is the most fuel efficient Class 8 truck on the road, refuting previous claims by Freightliner about its Cascadia model,” the company announced. Noting that they used industry-standard Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) testing procedures, International touted results showing a 5.7 percent average fuel economy advantage over Cascadia.
Freightliner is having none of it. “SAE Type III tests are not structured to be predictive of real-world duty cycles and conditions,” Delaney responded. “Rather, they are typically used to narrow the range of variables in preparation for subsequent and more robust Type IV tests. In our view, it is irresponsible to imply that Type III testing alone would ever be an accurate fuel economy predictor. We also note that no third party validation is cited in the press materials to support the claim of ‘independent’ on-road testing. Our practice at Freightliner LLC will always be the fair and factual reporting of performance measures. We are dismayed to see a competitor confusing reckless selling with science in a way that may cast doubt on any OEM-supplied data going forward.”
Neither company is backing down, and obviously both feel strongly that their claims are real.
Ultimately, the last word on the full performance of each truck will come down to time and drivers. Read the review of the Freightliner Cascadia in this issue of Road King, on page 23. A review of the ProStar ran in our November/December 2006 issue and is available at www.roadking.com.