Kenworth drew inspiration from race cars, iPhones and fine-crafted watches when designing its T680 Next Gen.
That according to chief engineer Joe Adams, who revealed the upgrades during an online launch Feb. 11. The T680 was launched in 2012 and frequently updated for improved aerodynamics and fuel economy. The Next Gen model brings another possible 6% gain in fuel economy thanks to aero enhancements and a narrower front end.
The fairings have been redesigned and foldable side extenders close the trailer gap, while still offering drivers access to the back of the cab. Battery access has been improved as well, thanks to an inspection panel built into the newly designed steps, which give a more stair-like entry.
New, heated LED headlamps are an option, and Kenworth integrated a turn signal strip into the fender to offer other motorists better visibility when the truck is turning. The narrower front end required a redesigned cooling system and engineers focused on under-truck airflow management to better direct air under the truck while also protecting the cooling system.
The interior was rethought as well, and now comes with new colors offering greater contrast. A new Diamond package color, madrona, introduces coppery stitching and emblems on the leather seats, offering a higher-end automotive look. New fabrics have been added to areas such as the seats and door pads.
Also new is a 15-inch, highly-customizable vibrant driver display. Drivers can access a Favorites menu to set up gauge positioning as they like. Active driver safety systems such as lane keep assist and Wingman Fusion are integrated into the display.
Zach Slayton, leader of the software development team, said Kenworth spent two years and millions of dollars designing the interface. Research included more than 100 driver interviews, and engineers worked, slept and lived in the trucks to experience what pro drivers do. The cockpit experience is rounded out with a new smart wheel, giving control to features such as cruise control and the sound system.
“The Kenworth T680 Next Generation has great innovations, new technologies and outstanding fuel efficiency, but this truck is all about the drivers,” said Laura Bloch, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing. “We built this truck around them and for them. The T680 Next Gen provides drivers with the convenient, next generation SmartWheel, new customizable 15-inch Digital Display, excellent forward lighting down the road, additional advanced driver assistance systems, and, of course, a premium and extremely comfortable cab and sleeper.”
“It’s striking,” added Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director. “When you look at the Kenworth T680 Next Generation, the first thing you notice are the headlights and the new hood and grille that set up the truck’s expression and feel. It really is a cool-looking vehicle.”
The original T680 will continue to be offered for a period of time as the T680 Next Gen is rolled out.