September 2013

Overdrive Magazine | Trucking Business News & Owner Operator Info

Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/165354

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Page 39 of 109

Drive Test Evolution evolves Freightliner adds gas power to Cascadia's popular aero package N apa Valley, Calif., has become an annual locale for Freightliner to present news and updates on various industry issues. And what's the point of holding court if you don't let folks take your trucks out for a spin once the PowerPoint portion of the visit is done? Freightliner, a big believer in natural gas, provided an ISX12 G-equipped Cascadia Evolution daycab tractor for me to evaluate on an extended test drive. The Evolution aerodynamics package it started offering last year for the Cascadia has been a big hit; the company has sold more than 15,000 units of this highly refined and carefully sculpted tractor, so adapting a version for natural gas seemed an obvious choice. Diesel-powered Cascadia Evolution tractors are achieving 8 to 9 mpg and higher. I'll soon ride with Henry Albert — former Overdrive Trucker of the Year — in his new Cascadia to verify that he is achieving a consistent 10 mpg through a combination of aerodynamics, good driving practices and technology. Look for that story soon. Due mostly to its lower Btu content, natural gas does not match diesel's fuel economy. Most fleets are reporting about 6 mpg, although the lower price of natural gas – less than half that of diesel most of the time – compensates for this. That said, boosting fuel economy with an aerodynamic daycab is important no matter what fuel is used. When it was time to drive, the long Napa Valley was crammed with wine enthusiasts looking for their next Merlot fix, so I headed east and picked up Interstate 5 north. The roads cleared almost immediately, and soon I was cruising easily up and down sage-brown rolling hills. While the truck is a definite head- By JACK ROBERTS turner thanks to the ultra-modern Evolution aero package, at its core it's a daycab without any luxurious appointments. Natural gas engines are much quieter than diesel engines, says Robert Carrick – Freightliner's Western regional product manager, natural gas. That fact – combined with Freightliner's excellent soundproofing and the reduced wind noise from the Evolution's aerodynamics – makes for a remarkably quiet truck in any road setting. Several side- or back-of-cab mounting options for the compressed natural gas tank ensure that customers will not have to sacrifice body modifications. Freightliner has sold more than 15,000 units of its aerodynamic Cascadia Evolution tractor, so adapting a daycab version for natural gas seemed an obvious choice. 38 | Overdrive | September 2013 Test_Drive_0913.indd 38 8/27/13 11:08 PM

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