Truck builder Paccar unveiled its Kenworth W990 model, adding gobs of stainless steel and styling cues to keep the brand’s long hood in-your-face exterior. Inside, designers created a luxury home on the road.
Kenworth unveiled the new model last week at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to more than 100 dealers and customers flown in for the event. Several customers received keys to drive their trucks home. Most will wait up to 60 weeks for delivery because truck makers throughout the industry cannot keep up with orders.
Truck sales are headed for a record year, fueled by robust freight demand and a lack of trucks and drivers to haul all the cargo. A record order backlog has resulted in most manufacturers being sold out of popular models until the second half of 2019.
The W990 measures 131.5 inches from bumper to back of cab. Designed for line haul, pickup and delivery, regional haul and heavy haul operations, it eventually will succeed the W900L model, which first debuted in 1961.
“The W990 is all about the driver,” said Kurt Swihart, Kenworth director of marketing. “For fleets, it is a strategy for attracting and retaining drivers. Putting a driver behind the wheel of one of these trucks is an investment in keeping their best drivers.”
W990 configurations include a day cab, 40-inch flat top and 52-inch and 76-inch mid-roof sleeper. Two of four models get power from a Paccar MX-13 engine rated to produce up to 510 horsepower and 1,850 pound-feet of torque. They are mated a 12-speed Paccar automated manual transmission. The others are powered by a Cummins X15 rated to produce 605 horsepower and 2,050 pound-feet of torque mated with an Eaton Fuller 18-speed transmission. Advanced driving assistance features like lane-departure warning and automatic emergency braking are included on the W990 but unavailable on the W900L.
The two most obvious style cues on the W990 are its long hood and the grille.
“The grille is really the face of the new W990,” said Jonathan Duncan, Kenworth’s design director. “Incorporating stainless steel was important. It had to be pure Kenworth, and it needed to be instantly recognizable as the top of the line.”
Hood-side features complement the stainless-steel air intakes. In some colors the intakes look twice as deep, he said.
Kenworth lavished attention on the 2.1-meter cab, wider than Kenworth’s legacy 1.9-meter cab on the W900L. A Limited Edition “Alley Cat” interior comes in midnight black with glossy Ravenwood door and dash trim accents of black leather, embroidered W990 logo and royal blue double-stitched diamond door pads, and a black leather-wrapped steering wheel with royal blue stitching. Driver and passenger seats feature suede charcoal inserts and perforated leather with royal blue backing.
“We combined great color schemes along with leather and embroidery,” Duncan said.
The W990 Driver’s Studio includes a 180-degree swivel passenger seat and rotating table for two people, drawer-style refrigerator and space for a microwave. The Kenworth premium audio package includes a 320-watt amp, 10-inch subwoofer and eight speakers; a swivel TV mount can hold a 28-inch flat-screen TV. There is optional pre-wiring for satellite TV. An 1,800-watt inverter powers four standard 120-volt sleeper cabin outlets. The sleeper uses LED lighting throughout
The driver gets access to remote diagnostics, a 7-inch color in-dash display includes truck-specific navigation, roadside assistance, vehicle data, hands-free calling, audio controls, blind-spot camera inputs and internet.
As customers and dealers swarmed the trucks for a first look, Jade Shank stood back. He had already ordered six of the new trucks sight unseen. Each is estimated to cost about $140,000 after taxes. His scrap hauling company in Napoleon, Ohio, uses only Kenworth tractors for pulling loads of up to 48,000 pounds.
“I’ve watched my trucks being built three times,” at Kenworth’s manufacturing plant in Chillicothe, Ohio, Shank told Trucks.com. “I am very confident of what to expect.”
The W990 will get some special attention this fall. Flatbed hauler Central Oregon Truck Company will use a specially wrapped W990 to drive the U.S. Capitol Christmas tree 3,000 miles from the Willamette National Forest to the lawn of the Capitol in time for the December tree lighting. The three-week coast-to-coast journey will trace the Oregon Trail in reverse and include community celebrations across the country. Kenworth also plans two dealership tours with the W990.
Editor’s note: exterior shots of the W990 by Alan Adler for Trucks.com, interior shots courtesy of Kenworth.