A star is born

Sleek new ProStar promises stellar fuel savings from aero design.

The Stars are coming out at International Truck and Engine Co., and the biggest is an aerodynamic tractor that the company says will seriously reduce fuel costs. The new ProStar will be produced in four levels, ranging from a fleet-oriented model to a premium owner-operator truck. Models with Cummins and Caterpillar engines will be available in the first quarter of 2007, followed by trucks with International’s new heavy-duty engine by October 2007.

The goals for the truck were to provide best-in-class fuel economy, high driver satisfaction, maximum uptime and low cost of ownership, says Tom Baughman, vice president and general manager of International’s heavy truck group. Five years and $300 million went into the truck’s development.

International is reviving the “Star” motif of its former branding. All its 5000 Series trucks now will go by PayStar. International introduced its trucks and tractors under the PayStar name in the late 1970s to echo the company’s Transtar, Fleetstar, Loadstar and Cargostar truck lines.

The ProStar series will complement International’s 8600 regional haul model and the 9900 premium highway tractor and will replace the 9200 and 9400i tractors.

Sculpted fenders and a strongly sloped hood help the ProStar achieve aerodynamic savings and better visibility, says Matt LaFontaine, vehicle engineering manager. Its aerodynamic efficiency is 9 percent to 14 percent better than that of four leading competitive aero trucks, he says.

International took several steps to minimize downtime and make servicing the truck easier. One was to synchronize service intervals, says Jodi Presswood, senior program manager for the truck. “This reduces about 60 shop visits for the full vehicle life,” he says.

International also made the top service tasks easier through engineering design or steps such as reducing the number of special tools required. For example, transmission replacement time has been reduced by 90 minutes, and headlight bulbs and wiper blades can be replaced without tools.

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The sleeper has improved finish and storage space options and more natural light. The cab design “delivers a smoother, quieter ride, minimizing driver fatigue and maximizing productivity,” Baughman says.

Initial production will be based on 112-inch BBC tractors with daycab and high-rise sleeper configurations. The second phase will include additional BBC and sleeper options. Other production specs were unavailable at press time.

Two new International big bore engines will be available in 11 liters and 13 liters late next year for the ProStar.

The engines will have “a lightweight yet virtually indestructible engine block cast entirely from compacted graphite iron,” according to company materials.

The engines will be the first to come from International’s agreement with German truck maker MAN Nutzfahrzeuge to develop commercial engines. MAN uses a CG iron block in its European big bore engines.

The CG iron block and other innovations will give the engines “outstanding fuel economy, competitive horsepower and torque ratings, very low noise and vibration and unsurpassed uptime, durability, reliability and drivability,” says Jacob Thomas, vice president of International Big Bore Engine Business.

They will be available from 300 hp to a top end that hasn’t been determined, says Tim Shick, marketing director of the engineering group.

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