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Kenworth’s latest addition to its popular T880 lineup, the T880S, offers another glimpse into why the company bills itself as ‘The Driver’s Truck.’
As you’ll see in the interview below, it doesn’t take long for Kenworth Marketing Director Kurt Swihart to point out the truck’s features and creature comforts that are tailored to the preferences of their drivers—a lot of drivers.
Kevin Baney, Kenworth assistant general manager for sales and marketing, recalled how hundreds of drivers had helped the company shift its focus on cab design for the T880 line-up.
“We have always been driver focused. That’s our slogan, ‘The Driver’s Truck,’ so regardless of what trends are out there in terms of driver shortage and how fleets view it, we will always be focused on the driver just because when you go through the design process it’s always been natural for us to do that,” Baney said during a recent press conference at Kenworth’s headquarters in Kirkland, Washington.
“When we developed that initial cab (for the T880) we had our pre-conceived ideas with cab width based on what the competition was, but it changed once we did that scaled cab so that a driver could get in it and they could change the width, the length and the seat position,” Baney continued.
“We ran hundreds of drivers through that and checked to see what the distribution was and it came out the 2.1 (meter) width. We were thinking that it needed to be 2.3. So that’s a testament, whether it’s a 680 or 880, is why it’s so popular with the drivers is that it’s designed based on their feedback and input.”
The T880S is offered with a set-forward front axle ranging from 14,600 to 22,800 pounds. The PACCAR 12.9-liter MX-13 engine is standard, but the truck can be spec’d with the 400-pound lighter 10.8-liter MX-11 or the new 8.9-liter Cummins Westport ISL G Near Zero natural gas engine.
In the video below, Swihart says the 2.1-meter wide cab in the T880S has been popular with drivers.
“You have plenty of space,” he says. “As a vocational truck driver you’re in and out of the cab all day long, every day.”
Keeping drivers closely in-tune with the instrument panel was also an important goal.
“The overall ergonomics of the cab: everything is easily within reach. You can see all the switches here, plus the virtual gauges,” Swihart explains.
Kenworth believes that the Eaton UltraShift Plus 18-speed Automated Manual Transmission will continue to win over more drivers from manual transmissions, including those that weren’t too impressed with earlier AMT designs.
“What we’ve seen in the vocational market over the last couple of years is really a shift from manual transmission to automated and automatic types of transmission technologies,” Swihart says. “And really the AMT from Eaton has improved dramatically over the last several years and offers a lot of new features.”
Okay, we’ll let Swihart do the rest of the talking in the video below. And don’t mind the dust. The interview was recorded inside the cab of a 2018 T880S at the DirtFish Rally School in Snoqualmie, Washington where Kenworth let reporters drive their latest T880 trucks. DirtFish sits on the former site of the historic Weyerhaeuser lumber mill, where Kenworth trucks began reporting for duty in the 1920s. The mill, which was once the world’s largest, eventually closed in 2003.