The morning bell has rung, everyone’s done their homework, and we’re ready to start yet another chapter of Kenworth curriculum. With lunch almost ready, take the chance to break away from your work schedule to go back to school on the new T680.
We’ve had a busy last few days, travelling and making some repairs to our tour trailer in order to make the Atlanta event tomorrow. Georgia weather has been the typical hot, with periodic heavy thunderstorms. A break in weather allowed us to take a couple of glamour shots at a rest stop. If you’re wondering who these people are, Mike and Scott are our trusty Spiff Services do-it-all drivers. Scott joined us in Indianapolis, after Jake took a breather back home in Colorado. Scott has been with Spiff for about a month now, and is enjoying being spoiled by these new trucks after having spent some time hauling freight in the real world.
I can’t believe Mike agreed to take this shot, so I’m going to be nice and only post it on the internet. A patch of Oro Adonis flowers conveniently positioned beside the trucks provided some flair to his pacific islander lineage.
A truck fire on the I75 North just outside Atlanta led to a 5 mile backup. Good thing we were heading South into the city, otherwise there might be significantly more blog posts and rest stop photo shoots.
Once we arrived in Atlanta, Sales Manager Cory Fletcher and Branch Manager Matt Brody greeted us to begin outlining the layout for the show tomorrow. MHC Kenworth in Mableton has a huge showroom, and we had hoped to bring the entire tour trailer inside their sales showroom. Unfortunately the height of the ceiling was 13’6”, and our Kentucky trailer is 13’3”. When we tried fitting it through the garage door, there just wasn’t enough room to avoid the door and emergency sprinklers. Looks like the trailer air conditioner gets another workout… We were however, able to get both trucks inside the showroom and lunch tables will be set up surrounding them. No matter where you decide to go, you’ll be out of the heat (or occasional downpour).
Setting up and getting a bath.
MHC will be open all day, but we’ll be showing from 10:30am to 3:30pm. If you haven’t seen on of these trucks in person yet, you won’t get a better opportunity than this.
5860 Riverview Road
Mableton, GA 30126
We had a great event at MHC Nashville yesterday, with customers and companies from all walks of life in attendance. The weather was hot but cooperative, the MHC group was ready to go first thing in the morning, and we were ready to rock by 9:00am.
Cory and crew invited the folks from Big G Express, First Express, R.E Trucking, Tri Star Transportaion, Stevens Carriers, Sharp Transport and Volunteer Express to name a few. They were all impressed with the new trucks, with some already having a few on order!
Considering the temperature outside, MHC made a good choice putting the food inside. While I was as comfortable as can be in the air conditioned tour trailer, attendees had the opportunity to cool off and talk to MHC staff while enjoying the great barbeque pork and beef in their cafeteria.
The Loyalty Mobile Innovations also made an appearance, and I spent some time talking with them about modifying the T680 to make luxury motorcoaches. Loyalty is based out of Gallatin, Tennessee, and make everything from personal motor homes, auto carriers and outreach vehicles. Just about anything you could possibly imagine is built into these trucks. Cities use them to carry mobile bomb defusing robots, musicians use them as tour vehicles, and affluent car nuts use them to transport their most prized possessions. The interiors are very impressive, and they thought the quality and luxury of the T680 inside and out would especially appeal to the high end motorhome crowds. A perfect match.
Loyalty Mobile Innovations T2000.
I spent much of the day in the tour trailer, walking people through the different features of the T680. It really is a great tool for showing the interior layout of the sleeper and daycab, as well as the manufacturing processes involved in creating such a high quality product. I was able to spend some time outside with the trucks, and walk through the interior of the T680 sleeper with a few customers. I can’t tell you how positive the reception of the swivelling passenger’s seat has been so far. When they see how much more usable space is available in the sleeper when you add the front seats to your living area, it’s hard to get them to leave! Many customers with larger sleeper units are impressed at how much larger the layout feels, especially with the full height cathedral style ceiling. The T680 also features a forward curtain that wraps around the side windows and windshield that creates a private living room to rest and relax. The feedback on the outside has been extremely positive, but the versatility of the interior closes the deal.
I want to thank the group at MHC Kenworth for their generosity and support before, during and after the event. They were ready to meet us over the weekend, despite the sales office being closed, and ensured we had everything that we needed to get the trucks and trailers set up. I look forward to coming back to Nashville, and the quality of people makes it one of my personal favorite cities.
Thanks again Nashville, and I’ll see you on Friday at MHC Kenworth in Atlanta, Georgia!
Ten minutes until the top of the hour, and we are ready to go here at Kenworth of Nashville. We’ll be here from 10:00am-2:00pm, so come down and have lunch with us, cool off in our air conditioned tour trailer, and have a seat in the even cooler T680.
Live from musicland, the T680 tour is just about ready for tomorrow’s T680 show at MHC Kenworth in Nashville, Tennessee. Come visit us and take the opportunity to get comfortable in the T680’s we have on hand. I met with Cory Dobbs, Branch manager this morning and we’ll have bbq, tons of stock trucks and of course, the T680 tour trailer on hand to showcase the new trucks. MHC Nashville has quite the campus, with an extensive service bay building, modern amenities and a group of extremely knowledgeable sales folks. Come see us, you won’t be disappointed.
550 Spence Lane
Nashville, TN 37210
This morning, when I sat down in the T680 that has been my home for the past 6 weeks, I was relieved in that it felt familiar. I had as much room as I needed, logically placed controls, and enough adjustment to feel like it was accommodating me, as opposed to the Canadair CRJ-200 I flew in on.
When you look at the qualities important to a business owner, a truck should have the following rather obvious “bottom line” builders: Aerodynamic drag (reduce for fuel savings), Reliability (reduced down time), Weight (increase payload capacity), Service and Repair Cost (low cost of ownership), and Fuel Economy (increase for fuel savings). All of these, when achieved, contribute to a higher return on your investment, and the T680 addresses them in spades. I will do my best to address those topics at a later date, but today I want to focus on the Driver Experience, because it doesn’t necessarily have a direct correlation to increased profits. Or does it……
When you’re seat is comfortable, you’ll sit longer. When a truck is easier to drive, you’ll drive longer. When everything you need is well within reach, you’re less distracted. When you’re less distracted, you don’t hit that tire in the middle of the highway. When it’s quieter, you sleep better. When you sleep better, you are a safer driver when it’s your turn. When your visibility is improved you hit less objects. When your nighttime visibility is better, you also hit less objects. When you can do all of this in luxury, you’ll stick around. When you stick around, your boss spends less time finding your replacement. Do you see where I’m going with this? If Kenworth built a truck that ran on happiness, but had the legroom of a 1958 BMW Isetta, not a soul would drive it. But, you would save a bundle on the freight you’re not hauling.
1958 BMW Isetta
So, how do you quantify that feeling of comfort and familiarity so that it can be replicated for such a wide variety of human body types? I can tell you how the Kenworth engineers accomplished this on the T680, so here goes:
It all starts with defining the criteria used to evaluate a comfortable, versatile driving position. The Kenworth engineers set out to create a comfortable driving environment for a 5’0” tall 110 pound female, a 6’8” 380 pound male, and everything in between. There are several critical components of any truck; a steering wheel, accelerator, brake and clutch pedals, gauges and a seat. The relative location of these components is paramount to creating a comfortable driving environment. The first step to creating the ideal driving position, is to eliminate all of the constraints; the cabin. In an open room, Kenworth interviewed drivers of all sizes, and asked them to place all of these individual components exactly where they would like them. The positions of these components were then recorded and a digital model was created. This digital model provided engineers with not only the ideal driving environment, but also the range of adjustment necessary to accommodate their differences in physical build. But it didn’t stop there. Kenworth engineers then proceeded to record the optimal travel for each of the pedals. For instance, the amount of travel of the air assisted hydraulic clutch pedal is designed to be easily actuated by shorter and larger drivers alike.
Once the range of motion for these components had been mapped, Kenworth needed to create the perfect cabin to house them. This involved building several cab mockups to define the perfect size. To solve the problem, they build a fully adjustable cab that used electrical motors to vary in width and length. Mounted to the back of a Kenworth T370, they travelled from customer to customer, interviewing over 800 drivers. Engineers then took that data and created the perfect size. They called this cab “Gumby”.
Road worthy prototypes were then constructed that allowed test drivers and customers the chance to accumulate over 200,000 miles, just to make sure everything was right. This cab was designed to driver’s specifications, to meet everyone’s beck and call.
The result is an 83” wide cab. It’s a width that provides ample room between the seats to access the sleeper, while also enabling a dash layout that caters to the driver in terms of stereo, HVAC and vehicle controls.
What does all this mean? It means that the more you use this product, the more you feel like it was built to accommodate you, the driver. When you combine this with the superb forward and lateral visibility, the 40% quieter interior and class leading visibility from the Xenon headlamps, it becomes much more than the most aerodynamic truck Kenworth has ever built. It’s the comfortable, accommodating, fatigue reducing truck, Kenworth has ever built.
By Peter Arrigoni
Erik alluded to this late last week, as he was seated on the plane back to Seattle, so I think I’ll pick up right where he left off. You see, at the same time Erik was contemplating the luxuries of the T680 seats on his way back to Seattle, I was doing the same while en-route to Nashville to join back up with the T680 convoy. While seated on one of United Airlines “intimate” puddle jumpers from Houston to Nashville, I came the following conclusions:
1) After logging over 2,000 miles in the T680, sometimes driving (a T680) IS better than flying.
2) Business class is to the T680 as Economy class is to a 1958 BMW Isetta.
3) Boarding an airplane is ten times harder, and a hundred times more dangerous than getting into the driver’s seat of a T680. There are NOT 3 points of contact when boarding an airplance.
4) Overhead storage on the T680 is far superior to a Boeing 757.
5) While the refrigerator on the T680 is easy to reach, even from the driver’s seat, it does not ask you if you want more ice for your Coke. Stay tuned folks, I hear the Kenworth folks are working on a flight attendant call button. The proverbial “6 months” is what I’ve been told.
I want to thank Erik for his standout performance at the Indianapolis event, and it looks like I missed a great one. Now that Erik has had the chance to experience life on the road with these trucks, as I have, I fear my tenure as road warrior may be at risk. I’ve been having so much fun out on the road with these trucks, I had a hard time relinquishing the reins.
Reporting for duty,