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Western Star births little brother for 49X vocational truck

47X offers capability similar to its larger sibling, including a twin-steering model

Western Star is doubling the size of its X-Series lineup with the addition of the 47X off-highway vocational truck. (Photo: Western Star)

Western Star is making a family thing out of its newest off-highway trucks, introducing a little brother to the popular 49X vocational model that debuted last year. 

The move signals Daimler Trucks’ commitment to building the brand’s tough-task vocational trucks in North America as it becomes a stand-alone company later this year. 

The 47X, which goes on sale in early 2022, shares a chassis and electrical architecture with the 49X, meaning customers can seamlessly move between the models and order parts from the same catalog.

Though the 47X and 49x suggest two trucks, Samantha Parlier, DTNA vice president of vocational market development, said the number is six because each comes in three configurations — forward and setback axles and a twin-front axle that creates greater functional stability for vehicles like concrete mixers.

“The [more] similar the trucks are, the easier it is for the sales team to know it inside and out and really spec a truck that’s dialed into the customer’s application. “There’s not an application out there that we can’t cover.”

Samantha Parlier, Daimler trucks north america vice president of vocational market development

“The [more] similar the trucks are, the easier it is for the sales team to know it inside and out and really spec a truck that’s dialed into the customer’s application,” she said. “There’s not an application out there that we can’t cover.”

Sunsetting 3 legacy models

Parlier declined to discuss whether Western Star’s other models — the 5700 and the 6900 — would be replaced with X-Series models. The brand will take its cues from the market. 

“We are always watching and adding to the family where it makes sense,” she said.

The X-Series means the eventual end of three legacy Western Star models — the 4700, 4800 and 4900. The 4800 was specifically the twin-steer entry, most commonly used in Canada and on the East Coast.

The Western Star 47X and 49X both offer a dual front axle steering option for greater stability on certain vocational jobs. (Photo: Western Star)

“We will be sunsetting those over the course of the next few years,” Parlier told FreightWaves. “The X-Series is the future. Everything the 4900 could do, everything the 4700 could do, the X-Series does with better technology, better safety, better ride and handling, better operator experiences.”

New vocational applications

With a standard 111.6-inch bumper-to-back-of-cab (BBC) length, the 47X is 10 inches shorter than the 49X and meets the needs of jobs requiring a shorter overall length, such as drywall trucks. A shorter hood and a wheel cut up to 50 degrees increase mobility on construction sites and in congested urban locations.

An optional 110.8-inch BBC meets federal and local bridge law requirements for mixers or super dump trucks.

“With the 47X and the 49X, we can offer our vocational customers different options that will give them the right tool for their specific job needs,” David Carson, DTNA senior vice president, sales and marketing, said in a press release. “The vocational segment [covers] many different applications, and our Western Star X-Series reflects that reality.” 

Big trucks for big jobs. The Western Star X-Series lineup, which could grow in future years. (Photo: Western Star)

Mass reduction

On a specification-by-specification basis, the 16,100-pound 47X chassis in a mixer is approximately 200 pounds lighter than a 49X chassis in the same configuration. 

“A key priority was to consider how to reduce mass without compromising strength,” said Tracy Mack-Askew, DTNA chief engineer of chassis, propulsion and vocational engineering. “From the cab to the frame rails, to powertrain and battery configurations, we examined all features to deliver weight savings.”

One of those reductions is the use of high-strength aluminum forward, rear and end-of-frame crossmembers. A new 9.5-millimeter-thick single channel rail option is available and features comparable strength to today’s 11-millimeter rail.

Power and configurability 

The standard engine on the 47X is the Detroit DD13 Gen 5 engine. The L9 and X12 from Cummins are available for weight-sensitive applications. 

An optional front-engine power takeoff is offered on both Cummins engines and the Detroit DD13 for applications like snowplows. Rectangular fuel tanks and a raised diesel aftertreatment system mount are offered with Cummins’ engines to ease clearance for belly plows used to clear snow from city streets.     

The 47X is also offered with the all-new DT12-V transmission, built on the DT12 with more than 35 million miles of vocational-specific testing. The DT12 has three work-ready modes: rock-free, off-road and paver.

The 47X equipped with the DD13 Gen 5 comes with the Detroit Assurance safety system that includes active brake assist, side guard assist and adaptive cruise control.

Because of the mid-chassis configuration, truck equipment manufacturers who upfit the 47X have access to several clear back-of-cab configurations with unobstructed frame rails ro make body integration easier. A QuickFit Interface System offers easy access to the electrical architecture and allows the customization of input and outputs within minutes.

A robust vocational market

The same supply chain issues plaguing the rest of the trucking industry have led Western Star to focus on getting trucks delivered over building a backlog. 

“We’re really happy about the vocational market outlook,” Parlier said. “The 49X has received orders that more than tripled our expectations.”

“There are no constraints on the strength of the market. Everything that we’re seeing from positive news around infrastructure builds to continuing housing start demand,” she said. “The pandemic drove this desire for people to live in their own homes. There’s been this huge resurgence that’s put a huge injection into the construction industry along with housing starts.”

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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.