The Freightliner Corporation and Some of Its Notable Truck Models
Freightliners were made out of the company’s (Consolidated Freightways) aim to produce a line of trucks that are powerful enough to climb the steep mountain grades in the western part of the United States. In the late 1930s, CF’s president, Leland James, approached truck manufacturers and presented his idea of making truck parts out of lightweight aluminum rather than steel. Though this proposal was met with resistance and skepticism, it didn’t stop James from hiring a team of engineers to build such commercial vehicles.
In 1942, the company changed its name to Freightliner Corporation and started its journey to becoming North America’s leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer. Here are among the company’s notable truck models:Freightliner Model 600 (the first commercial vehicle with all-aluminum cab)
Along with the change of its name, Freightliner released its model 600, also known as the “shovelnose” truck. It was known as the industry’s first commercial vehicle fitted with an all-aluminum cab. This was also the model that launched the Freightliner brand. Its production, however, was interrupted during WWII, when truck-building was suspended to make way for the production of ship and aircraft parts.Freightliner WF64 (the first overhead sleeper)
Introduced by Freightliner in 1953, the WF64 was the industry’s first overhead sleeper that’s designed for the long haul while staying in compliance with the strict length laws that were in place during that time. Besides its innovative space-saving design, this truck can also run on diesel, gasoline, or liquefied propane. This is what makes the WF64 an alternative-fuel solution ahead of its time.Freightliner Powerliner (the company’s flagship truck model)
Considered as the Freightliner’s flagship truck model and dubbed as a Next Generation Vehicle (NGV), the Powerliner lived up to its name by being equipped with standard 400 hp engines, with the option to upgrade to up to an enormous 600HP. Such huge engine is concealed by an oversized 2,000-square-inch radiator, the biggest radiator in the automotive industry. Freightliner FLD120 (a 70” sleeper with raised roof)
With the success of the company’s line of severe-duty trucks—the FLD Series—the FLD 120 was released in 1992. Much like other FLD trucks, it came with the power and agility needed to overcome the abuse of vocational jobs and of extreme conditions in the harshest of environments. What sets the FLD 120 apart is that it came with a 70” sleeper fully integrated with its cab and a raised roof offering ample standing room. The raised roof was a huge success that it was carried on to the succeeding models.Freightliner Argosy (first flat-floor design in a COE)
Released in 1998, the Argosy is said to defy all the trade-offs that are usually associated with the cab-over-engine (COE) design. It sports an ideal combination of the roominess of a traditional cab and the maneuverability and unobstructed view of a COE design. It also takes pride in being fitted with several industry firsts including the first flat-floor design in a truck with COE as well as the first electronically assisted articulating steps, which make getting in and out of the cab so much easier.
Some Innovations that Made Freightliner Trucks the Benchmark for Safety and Technology
Freightliner trucks were an evolution, and they continue to evolve without compromising the unparalleled efficiency that made them the best choice among truck buyers. From medium-duty, severe-duty, to on-highway trucks, Freightliners are among the most reliable choices around. Since 1930s, the company has been committed in building a better vehicle with sufficient power, durability, and efficiency to revolutionize the way truckers do their job. Over the years, Freightliner continues to build new features and components that enable it to set the standard for technology, innovation, and safety. Among its remarkable innovations are:1958: the industry’s first 90-degree tilt cab
Just a few years after the company released a four-wheel-drive Mountainer tractor, it made another record by creating the industry’s first 90-degree tilt cab that allows mechanics to have direct access unto the truck’s engine. This innovation made truck maintenance so much easier and faster as the tasks that once took hours to complete have been trimmed down to mere minutes.1989: the Airliner suspension
Another innovation Freightliner takes great pride in inventing is its Airliner suspension, which was first used in 1989. Such suspension took truck driver’s comfort into a whole new level by cushioning the cab with airbags integrated into the suspension. With such design, the suspension is able to shoulder the weight of the truck and its payload to give drivers a cushioned ride, and thus reduce suspension damage as well as driver fatigue.
This Freightliner proprietary suspension also comes with maintenance-friendly features like double-bonded rubber bushings on moving joints. These features don’t just improve suspension performance but also extend its service life, therefore helping the truck owners save on annual maintenance costs. Among the company’s innovations, this is one of the most successful. In fact, it became the best-selling air suspension of all times.1998: industry-first electronically assisted articulating steps
Introduced in 1998 in the company’s Argosy models, the industry-first electronically assisted articulating steps make Freightliner even more popular these days. Such feature makes getting in and out of the truck’s cab easier. It was released along with the flat-floor design, which was also a first in a cab-over-engine type of truck. With such advanced features, plus the fact that they allow drivers to cover more miles at a lower cost, made the Argosy trucks a hit with the trucking community.2009: Run Smart Predictive Cruise
The Freightliner’s exclusive RunSmart Predictive Cruise system makes use of slope and height data from the NAVTEQ system and integrates it with the truck’s cruise control system to automatically fine-tune the set speed, thus lowering fuel consumption. While on a trip, the system evaluates the forthcoming changes on the terrain and makes the necessary adjustments on the throttle to reduce the amount of fuel consumed by the truck. Not only that, this cruise control system also gives truck owners fuel savings and maximum efficiency without compromising speed. The system makes sure the truck is running within 6% of the set speed.
Aside from these four popular Freightliner innovations, this company also employs Selective Catalytic Reductions emissions technology to stay in compliance with EPA 2010 regulations. It has also launched its Detroit Virtual Technician, a telematics system that provides every Freightliner vehicle with real-time remote monitoring.