LAS VEGAS - A dramatic new Class 8 truck from Kenworth Truck Co. features an SMC hood and epoxy-based material for the chassis fairings. Kenworth first stunned the trucking industry in 1985 when it rolled out its aerodynamic T600 tractor. With its gently sloping hood, the T600 was a radical departure from the typical Class 8 flat-nosed conventional. It was dubbed the Anteater by a dubious industry, but fleets and owner-operators quickly realized the benefits of an aerodynamic truck - lower fuel costs - forcing other commercial truck makers to follow suit. Kenworth has sold more than 70,000 units of the T600 since its introduction.
But Kenworth said it no longer could tweak the T600 design.
So the company has built an entirely new Class 8, with heavy emphasis on aerodynamics. The truck maker unveiled its all-new T2000 on May 16 during the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas.
``It's the most aerodynamic truck in the history of Kenworth,'' said Barry Langridge, Kenworth general manager.
The most noticeable aerodynamic feature is its hood, a dramatic slope that improves a driver's forward visibility. The T2000 hood has a steeper slope and is six inches lower in the front than the T600.
Cambridge Industries Inc. of Madison Heights, Mich., supplied the sloping, sheet molding compound hood. SMC is particularly useful in the shaping of aerodynamic parts, such as the hood, said Paul Middelhoven, Kenworth chief engineer. SMC also is used for cab doors, roof and fire wall.
An epoxy-based material was used for the chassis fairings, which are 40 percent lighter than other Kenworth fairings.
``In our view, the T600 was the industry benchmark for aerodynamics,'' said Paul Skoog, general marketing manager. ``So we im-proved upon ourselves.''
Kenworth was able to achieve a 6 percent improvement in the drag coefficient, with a resulting improvement in fuel economy of about 3 percent, Skoog said. He would not provide the drag coefficient from wind tunnel testing, saying the result is proprietary.
New aerodynamic fenders and chassis fairings add to the truck's slippery design. The windshield -64 percent larger-has a sharper 32-degree slope, compared to the 15-degree slope on existing Kenworth trucks. The hood, fenders, windshield, bumper, fairings and cab extensions all underwent wind-tunnel testing.
The desire for improved aerodynamics and a larger, driver-friendly cab drove the design of the T2000, Middelhoven said.
On the early designs, Kenworth paid little attention to styling.
``We just tried to get the drag coefficient as low as possible,'' said Wayne Simons, engineering manager on Kenworth's research and development team.
Production of the T2000 begins after testing is complete, early in the fourth quarter at the Chilli-cothe, Ohio, assembly plant. The Renton, Wash., plant is to begin T2000 assembly in early 1997.