Undoubtedly the star of the show was the Freightliner concept truck “Revolution.” (exterior shown here, interior shown above) It is like those forward-looking concepts that make the auto shows so interesting. This one, though, is a heavy truck and a radical offering. Remarkably, it is a fully functioning vehicle, a tractor that starts, runs and drives down the road. It’s based on a Freightliner Cascadia, with the standard running gear, but featuring some under-the-skin innovations, like the Daimler/Detroit transmission and a self-sensing 6x2/6x4 drive.
The cab is what grabs attention first. It is a crossover day cab/sleeper cab. It has a folding driver seat that slips to the rear and a bunk that folds over it down from the rear wall. The cab is very short – only a little larger than a daycab. In some ways it addresses the cab length issue rather like some of the cabovers that have bunks that fold down over the seats.
Unlike them, though, the main way in and out of the cab is through the back wall, where a power sliding door (from a Sprinter van!) provides very easy and safe entry and exit with the possibility of stepping down from the deckplate via the chassis access step. No risky swinging out of the driver’s seat into passing traffic as sometimes must happen on a freeway shoulder. There is a door opening on the driver’s side, which is more an emergency exit. It is, in fact a re-skinned Cascadia door to match up with the swoopy, very aerodynamic exterior styling. And no door handle or lock, just the romote keyfob opener.
On the passenger side there’s no door, just an access to pass-through for sleeper needs, such as sleeping bag, bedroll and a change of clothes. Otherwise the passenger seat is set up as a work area, with comfortable day seating and a big work surface.
The frontal styling is a sort of crossover too, something between a Cord and a mid-50s Chevrolet pickup. But it is very aero-efficient with the narrow nose directing air along the sides of the cab. The radiator intake is small as the HVAC condenser is removed to one of the side openings with a dedicated electric fan, which adds a little fuel efficiency from lower fan-on time when the air conditioning is running. The lighting is all-LED including headlamps.
Fuel efficiency is served by the automated 12-speed
transmission and the all-new electronically controlled drive that runs as a 6x2 unless it detects wheel slip, when it switches to a 6x4. Detroit
The Revolution is also a rolling Internet access point, set up for a laptop computer, but with a load of smarts on board, all accessed through an iPad that slips into a docking station in the dash. This is referred to as TruckOS and features various apps that allow for truck to truck or worldwide chat, a loadfinder, navigation, truck health and, oh yes, entertainment!
Having Internet access allows for enormous functionality in and out of the truck and, should you drop the iPad while working around the truck, you just hop over to your electronics superstore and get another!
The really interesting thing about the concept truck, though, is not all the features that are just too numerous to get into (take a look at www.freightlinertrucks.com/revolution for a guided tour) but the fact that the designers see an increasing need for crossover trucks that can provide the maneuverability of the daycab with the ability to take mandated rest when necessary. That would seem to indicate that, while the long-haul truck will always fulfill a need, maybe that need will lessen in the future.