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Heavy-duty

Western Star unveils next-gen 49X vocational truck

Jason Morgan is the editor of Fleet Equipment. He has more than 14 years of B2B journalism experience covering the likes of trucking and construction equipment, real estate, movies and craft beer industries.

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Western Star introduced the 49X, its next-generation vocational truck. Underpinned by a stronger, lighter chassis and equipped with a new X-series cab, the 49X sports the new Detroit DT12 Vocational series of transmissions and Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems.

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“A vocational truck is a tool for a job,” said David Carson, senior vice president of the vocational segment for Daimler Trucks North America. “We’ve completely rethought the foundation of the 49X to make it easier to upfit, deliver greater durability, return greater payload and improve productivity at the jobsite.”

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The clean-sheet design of the Western Star 49X enables total weight savings of over 350 lbs. in like-for-like spec’ing versus the current Western Star 4900 and that weight savings starts with an all-new vocational frame. Single channel frame rail options are available in a variety of thicknesses and feature resisting bending moment (RBM) strength rating for single channel of up to 3.7 million in.-lbs., yielding greater durability and weight savings, the OEM noted. For added strength, C-channel frame reinforcements are available that reach an RBM rating of 5.4 million in.-lbs. Multiple parent rail front frame extension options are available for applications requiring front-mounted equipment, such as a plow.

Western Star also stated that the clear back-of-cab packaging for the 49X allows for easier upfit with features that include: forward mounted DEF tanks; standard in-cab battery box; multiple air tank mounting locations; air dryer mounted under hood (SBA) or under cab (SFA), optimized fuel tank sizes; a compact Detroit aftertreatment system; and functional dual vertical exhaust stacks.

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“To engineer the 49X with the durability and reliability our customers need, we went to their jobsites: the oil fields of west Texas, plowing operations in New Hampshire, and logging operations of British Columbia,” Carson said. “We developed the 49X with the input of those customers, and then tested it where they work to ensure it’s ready for the toughest environments.”

The X-series cab was designed specifically for vocational applications and provides additional vehicle weight savings while delivering long-term durability and operator comfort, Western Star noted.

Advanced topology optimization was utilized to ensure rigidity and strength, and determine where additional material was needed in the steel-reinforced aluminum cab. Development work on the cab was the most extensive in Western Star history and included multiple cab crush tests to ensure cab integrity in case of a rollover, the OEM stated. Full-vehicle shaker tests replicated 800,000 miles of use to test the innovative cab mount system that uses vocational cab isolators mounted outboard for optimal stability and reduced fatigue to both the operator and the cab. According to Western Star, it is the segment’s largest cab.

All 49X models come with all-metal exterior brightwork and a standard interior with upscale appointments including metal accent. An optional premium trim package includes woodgrain and diamond-stitched seating. In all models, a wrap-around dash puts the driver command center and B-panel in easy line of sight of the operator. On the B-panel, a flex panel can be prepped for a tablet or configured for an additional 12 switches or 10 gauges. Along with a QuickFit Dash Access designed for seamless telematics or other device integration, equipment control and device access is placed within easy reach for the operator.

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The hood of the 49X is constructed of high-strength, lightweight molded composite for improved impact resistance and durability. The new hood uses a patented ISO Tech Hood Suspension system that behaves similarly to a typical coil-over shock suspension with spring and damper. The system isolates, absorbs and dissipates vibrations from the chassis when driving over uneven terrain to protect the hood from damage and cracking.

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The Western Star 49X offers the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems.

The 49X’s Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems features Side Guard Assist (SGA), Active Brake Assist 5 (ABA5), Tailgate Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) to 0 MPH, Lane Departure Warning, Video Capture, Intelligent High-Beam and Automatic Wipers and Headlamps. 

With optional SGA, radar technology detects moving objects and pedestrians on the passenger side of the 49X that may otherwise fall in the operator’s blind spot and alerts them with both auditory and visual warnings.

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ABA5 detects distance and speed to moving and stationary objects in the driving path of the 49X and determines if warning or automated braking is necessary. ABA5 with Detroit Assurance works down to 5 MPH, making it ideal for busy jobsites and in congested urban areas. It also recognizes moving pedestrians who are crossing in the truck’s path, alerting and applying the brakes if the operator does not react. 

With slips, trips and falls serving as the second most common type of workplace injury, and with applications like a concrete mixer where an operator may enter and exit the truck fifty times in a shift in mind, Western Star design-engineered ergonomic ingress and egress for the 49X. Door opening angles of 70 degrees, five hand holds, and step treads widened by half an inch and constructed as a staircase help facilitate safer entry and exit from the cab. The steps start closer to the ground and use a volcano tread for confident footholds with high traction, added toe clearance, and mud, dirt and debris pass through. 

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The 49X’s improved visibility comes from a sloped hood enabled by splayed frame rails, a lowered engine position and underhood engine air filtration, a 28% larger single-piece roped-in windshield, and an optional three-piece rear window that is 77% larger versus the 4900. Optional Borofloat glass in the front windshield and optional polycarbonate in the rear windows provide impact resistance from debris. A C-bar mirror system features door-mounted mirrors that mitigate the effects of chassis and engine vibration to keep them stable and usable in off-road or paving applications where visibility by the operator to the crew at the back of the truck is critical. 

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The 49X also debuts a dual-stage LED headlight system featuring an internally printed heat grid and ambient air temperature sensor which can melt three millimeters of ice in less than ten minutes at 40 degrees below zero, or to burn through condensation in warm, humid environments. Combined with a 45-degree light pattern, the 49X headlight system provides smooth, uniform illumination that shines long and wide to improve visibility and safety on the road or at the jobsite. 

The Western Star 49X is available for ordering this winter, and first deliveries begin in early 2021.

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