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International HX strengthens and improves on another Navistar cab

Severe-service model first to follow modular Project Compass approach

The new International HX Series off-highway trucks are the first to emerge from Navistar's Project Compass initiative. (Photo: Navistar)

Navistar International Corp. (NYSE: NAV) sells a lot of severe service trucks to government and utility customers. With a modular approach that adapts the cab of another International model, the new HX Series is targeting the off-highway construction segment.

“Construction was front and center for a lot of our plans,” said Dave Hillman, Navistar senior director of the vocational segment. “Whether or not we get a federal stimulus package that includes some infrastructure, we see a very healthy construction industry in the coming years.”  

International covers Classes 4-8 with four truck series In an off-highway market where Navistar expects a total of around 60,000 truck sales in 2020. The HX covers Class 8 heavy-haul. Customers add concrete mixers, dump bodies and a range of vocational variants to the chassis. 

International trails only PACCAR Inc. (NASDAQ: PCAR) brands Kenworth and Peterbilt in off-highway sales.

“We have a nice backlog of orders as we look forward to the January launch,” Mark Stasell, Navistar vice president of vocational truck, said during a virtual media preview.

Following the compass

The new HX520 with a set-forward axle and the HX620 with a set-back axle are available for delivery in March 2021. Built at Navistar’s plant in Escobedo, Mexico, the HX trucks are the first products to emerge from the Project Compass initiative. Compass focuses on flexible and modular design that allows customization based on customer segments.

The International HX Series comes with dual functional air cleaners to filter the air in dusty environments. (Photo: Navistar)

The new HX Series cab comes from the International LT model. But it adds high-strength steel reinforcements to the floor structure, B-pillars and cab mounts for sleeper applications. ChemGuard, LineX and International’s own top-coat process protects the cab inside and out from salt and debris common to off-highway work.

“It’s overkill for on-highway use,” Stasell said.

The cabs also feature upgraded seats, including heated leather and perforated surfaces on 56-inch and 73-inch sleeper cabs. The overall cab is larger than the current model. Larger power windows improve visibility.

The international HX Series sleeper cab with tufted leather. (Photo: Navistar)

How new is the HX Series?

The HX Series debuted at the World of Concrete show in 2016. How new is the 2021 model?

“Anytime you put a new cab on a truck, new hood, all those things, we really consider it a new truck,” Stasell said. “This is a significant change from the HX although it certainly builds on the chassis. It feels like a new truck from the ground up when you’ve done that much significant product change.

“We really want to build trucks from modular designs,” he said. “It helps us immensely with cost and quality and the features we can offer.” 

The bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) measurement is 119 inches for the HX520 and 120 inches for the HX620. A 115-inch BBC on the current HX is being dropped for the new model.

The HX and LT cabs are relatives but not identical, Hillman said.

“We now have the opportunity to take some of the features we developed for the HX and move those back into some of our other vocational products,” said Chad Conley, vice president of vocational sales.

Lift axle improvements

The new HX moved control for lift axles to the dash from controls located between the driver and passenger seats.

“There’s a Diamond Logic set of switches you can get in the cab that control up to three lift axles, the up-and-down motion as well as the pressure settings,” Conley said. “We were able to bring over remote power modules, Diamond Logic, all features that you can pre-program from the factory or work with our technicians and dealers.

“We’ve done a lot of things to make this truck easier to integrate. One of the big things with doing the lift axle at the factory is you get the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) without having to reapply for anything after the fact.”

The new HX moved control for lift axles to the dash from controls located between the driver and passenger seats.

The new International HX moved controls for the lift axles from between the driver and passenger seats to buttons on the truck’s dash. (Photo: Navistar)

Powertrains for tougher 2021 emissions rules

About three of four HX trucks today come with the Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) X15 engine. The rest are powered by Navistar’s A26 power plant. The Cummins engine is certified to meet 2021 greenhouse gas emission standards. The A26 will be ready a few months after launch, Conley said.

The three transmissions and their take rates are the Eaton (NYSE: ETN) Fuller manual (40%), the Eaton Ultrashift automated manual (20%) and the Allison (NYSE: ALSN) 4000 Series automatic (40%).

“The trend is toward automatic and [automated manual transmission] AMT,” Conley said. “Driver capability is one reason. It is also a safer truck when you have less interaction with the gearbox.”

OnCommand connectivity

The HX Series is supported by International’s real-time remote diagnostics OnCommand Connection. Maintenance and repair needs are easier to manage with fleet health visibility.

“Through that combination of OnCommand Connection and International 360, we really kind of put this cocoon around the driver’s operation,” said Bruce Vasbinder, director of severe service product marketing.

That includes knowing what’s going on with the truck and preparing the dealer with the right diagnostics and parts availability when the truck arrives for service.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.