Kenworth touts its new W990 long-hood tractor as a true “driver’s truck”

Kenworth’s new W990 long-hood tractor. ( Photo: Kenworth )

Kenworth’s new W990 long-hood tractor. (Photo: Kenworth)

There’s nothing like being among the first to receive a new truck model, and three Kenworth (NASDAQ: PCAR) customers got to experience that feeling on Thursday night when they accepted the keys to their new W990 tractors at an event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Executives from Fleenor Bros., Taylor Transport and Oculus Transport accepted the keys to Kenworth’s newest long-hood tractor.

“A well-spec’d long-hood conventional stands out in a crowd,” Kyle Cousins, vice president of operations of Fleenor Bros., said. “The big hoods get you noticed; and customers as well as our drivers love them. I know it’s helped in our recruiting and retention. Drivers stay in part because of our trucks. They feature 3-color paint schemes and owner-operator specs.”

Touted as a “Driver’s truck,” the W990 borrows from the T680 and T800 cab designs for a driver-focused experience in the cab. Set on a 131.5-inch bumper to back-of-cab chassis and carrying with it the traditional long hood of the W900, the W990 is designed to stand out on the road.

Designed and often used in line haul, pickup and delivery, regional haul, and heavy haul operations, the truck is expected to project a bold presence, Kenworth said. That is something that is important to Cory Heck, vice president of assets and equipment for Calgary, Alberta-based Oculus Transport.

“We stand out with our long hoods and bright orange paint scheme,” Heck said. “We stick to our roots and have pride in ownership. Image is so important to us and the Kenworth W900L, and now W990, support that image perfectly. When drivers are required to dwell in their truck, it is important that they feel rested and comfortable. I know that our equipment helps with driver retention, and we’ve seen our drivers turn up their nose at offers from other companies with lesser equipment. That really tells you something.”

The W990 comes in day cab, 40-inch flat top, and 52-inch and 76-inch mid-roof sleeper configurations, all equipped with a Paccar powertrain standard. An MX-13 engine rated up to 510 hp. and 1,850 lbs.-ft. of torque, a 12-speed Paccar automated transmission and Paccar 40K tandem rear axles round out the key specs.

“The new Kenworth W990 is a reflection of the Kenworth brand … which represents the quality, engineering excellence, and both customer and driver focus that goes into every Kenworth we build,” Mike Dozier, Kenworth general manager and Paccar vice president, said.

For drivers, the cab features the Kenworth Driver’s Studio package that offers a 180-degree swivel passenger seat and rotating table for two people, drawer-style refrigerator, and space for a microwave. It is equipped with Kenworth’s premium audio package with 320-watt amp, 10-inch subwoofer and eight speakers; swivel TV mount for up to a 28-inch flat screen TV; and optional EpicVue pre-wire for satellite TV.

Kenworth will take the W990 on a pair of road tours to 20 dealerships across North America, beginning in October. The first tour begins Oct. 10 at MHC Kenworth in Atlanta and concludes on Oct. 30 at Kenworth of Pennsylvania in Shartlesville, PA. The second tour will begin at Kenworth Northwest of Lakewood on Oct. 19 and ends at Kenworth of South Texas in San Antonio on Nov. 12.

For life on the road, storage includes a full-size wardrobe space for hanging clothes, multiple storage drawers, and storage space under the lower bunk. The 1,800-watt inverter includes a shore power connection and four standard 120-volt sleeper outlets to power a range of electrical devices. LED lighting appears throughout the interior.

“We are passionate about our products, our customers that depend on them, and the drivers that operate them. We know that there are many customers and drivers out there who share our passion. The Kenworth W990 represents the pride, image and freedom of trucking, and captures the spirit of what trucking is all about,” Dozier said.

 A W990 Limited Edition interior is available in midnight black with glossy Ravenwood door and dash trim accents. The special interior features rich black leather, embroidered W990 logo, Royal Blue double-stitched diamond door pads, black leather wrapped steering wheel with Royal Blue stitching, and driver and passenger seats with suede charcoal inserts and perforated leather with Royal Blue backing.

 The W990 comes standard with the Kenworth TruckTech+ remote diagnostics system and NAV+HD 7-inch, color in-dash display that provides access to truck-specific navigation, roadside assistance, vehicle data, hands-free calling, audio controls, blind-spot camera inputs and the Internet.

“The Kenworth W990’s excellent performance, classical styling, premium finishes and lifestyle amenities underscore a sense of driver achievement and pride,” concluded Dozier. “We are driven to provide the best equipment in the industry to get the job done.”

Kenworth design director Jonathan Duncan said the goal was to design a truck incorporating the heritage of Kenworth’s W900 model. Calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity as a designer,” Duncan’s team started with a clean slate.

“First and foremost, we wanted to design a truck that had a significant ‘wow’ factor,” he said. “There is nothing like seeing a long-hood Kenworth driving down the road, signifying image, pride and freedom. The long-hood conventional is the truck that gets noticed and commands attention; it is the truck you see garnering best of show ribbons at truck beauty show across the country.”

Inside, special touches were added to enhance the driver experience.

“We went one step further by designing the Limited Edition interior package,” Duncan said. “We combined great color schemes along with leather and embroidery. The Limited Edition comes in classic midnight black with a glossy Ravenwood trim. The diamond-trim panels on the door pads and in the sleeper, feature Royal Blue stitching and W990 embroidery. The heated and cooled leather seats have perforated leather that is dyed blue on the backside so that the edges of the perforations are blue. That’s a small touch that the driver will notice every time they get into the cab. We also added Royal Blue stitching on the leather Kenworth SmartWheel, another detail that only the driver will know about and a reminder that they’re behind the wheel of something special.”

 In addition to showcasing Kenworth’s pride, the W990 needed to be functional, and giving a driver something he or she is proud of goes a long way to producing a more productive truck.

“We also knew that the W990 had to be a true driver’s truck – nothing less would do,” said Duncan. “We want drivers to take pause at the end of a hard day, look over their shoulder, and admire their ride. We wanted to reward the driver with the smoothest ride, and sharpest–looking truck out there; a truck that will make other drivers do a double take. I couldn’t be happier with the results.”

Among the design achievements Duncan pointed to are the hood and grill.

“The grille is really the face of the new W990,” Duncan said. “Incorporating stainless steel was important. It had to be pure Kenworth and it needed to be instantly recognizable as the top-of-the-line. We maintained the traditional cathedral shape to the grille and the inset surfaces at the top to give it a refined tailored look. That powerful center spear signifies this is part of the new generation of Kenworth trucks and the tapered grille spears are there for a classic touch. It’s elegant, beautiful, and full of brawn.”

The truck also small but important features such as the design of hood-side stainless steel air intakes that, in some colors, can make the intakes appear twice as deep as they actually are, Duncan noted. A “wind-split” in the center of the hood helps accentuate the length of the hood.