A look inside Peterbilt’s medium-duty trucks and the Quebec plant that builds them


Paccar operates one in all Quebec’s industrial gems in Sainte-Thérèse, a 425,000 sq.-ft. facility the place Peterbilt and Kenworth medium-duty vehicles are manufactured. Lately, on the invitation of Peterbilt Motors, we had the chance to tour this modernized facility and drive the producer’s new medium-duty fashions on PMG Applied sciences’ take a look at observe in Blainville, Que.

Paccar’s Sainte-Thérèse plant was inbuilt 1998-1999, employs 1,000 employees and has assembled greater than 245,000 vehicles because it opened. Because of provide chain difficulties and a scarcity of a number of elements to finish the vehicles, the present manufacturing price is right down to 40 vehicles per day, out of a attainable 75 vehicles per shift. It’s one in all Paccar’s most fashionable crops. There is no such thing as a warehouse, however 31 doorways in 4 receiving areas. 

Within the Peterbilt lineup, the Sainte-Thérèse plant builds the 535, 536, 537 and 548 medium-duty fashions.  

The addition of a completely robotized part to fabricate the brand new 2.1-meter cabs is among the many most spectacular upgrades to the plant that initially housed the Sicard snowblower manufacturing enterprise.  

Since 2020, the brand new cabs have been manufactured within the new robotic cell the place robots, whose tooling heads might be modified to move elements, drill and set up rivets, work in good synchronization.  

The plant receives generic elements from its suppliers that are modified in accordance with the choices ordered by the shoppers. The Sainte-Thérèse plant is the one one at Paccar that may do laser slicing, a expertise that additionally permits it to drill a gap per second. 

The massive query proper now: will the plant finally make electrical vehicles? “We’re at all times in search of new avenues for electrification. We have already got electrical fashions and we clearly wish to electrify medium-duty vehicles, however we don’t have any dates in thoughts for St. Therese,” mentioned Tim Olson, Peterbilt’s director of public relations. 

Peterbilt medium-duty trucks
A spread of medium-duty Peterbilt vehicles have been out there for drives and walkarounds. (Picture: Steve Bouchard)

Driving and walkaround 

After the manufacturing facility tour, we went to PMG Applied sciences’ important take a look at observe in Blainville. By the best way, this observe wants some severe repaving, because it may simply be used for tough terrain testing. 

There have been some new Peterbilt’s medium-duty vehicles out there, in addition to an exquisite new Peterbilt 579 Ultraloft.  

Phil Corridor, director of medium-duty advertising, joined me for a number of laps across the observe and a walkaround of a 536 (Class 6).  

First impression upon boarding: the visibility is superb. The glass surfaces are massive and the hood may be very sloped, giving the impression of seeing straight in entrance of the automobile.

“This is a vital facet for a pickup and supply truck within the metropolis,” Corridor explains, including that the windshield is 64% bigger and the facet home windows are 35% bigger than on the earlier Peterbilt model. 

One other remark: the cab is actually quiet. No wind noise enters the cab and you’ll barely hear the engine buzzing. Corridor explains that the air consumption is mounted on the engine and never on the firewall, which enormously reduces vibrations. We have been in a position to speak usually at cruising velocity.  

Plenty of work went into the seven-inch digital show display that sits behind the steering wheel with automotive-style multi-function controls that enable drivers to have a number of controls at their fingertips.  

“It retains your eyes on the highway always. That’s essential, as a result of distractions trigger accidents. Typically security is in regards to the little issues,” Corridor says.  

One instance? In contrast to the eye-straining blue backlighting usually present in automobile shows, the amber backlighting on the Peterbilt medium-duty autos is simple on the eyes and doesn’t pressure the view.  

Panel B on the dashboard was designed based mostly on buyer suggestions. “Buyer enter was essential within the design of this truck. Clients who come from each the pickup and supply section and the vocational section,” says Corridor. “They’ve very completely different wants.”

Crowd gathered by Peterbilt truck
(Picture: Steve Bouchard)

The placement of the air brake knob is without doubt one of the most necessary parts. It was necessary that it was inside straightforward attain and positioned in order that the total pressure of the arm was used when working it.

“Throughout pickups and deliveries, this button is used 60 occasions a day, so if it’s not positioned accurately, the wrist will get drained and accidents like tendonitis may result.”

Probably the most-used controls are positioned closest to the motive force, whereas those who aren’t touched a lot through the day – such because the radio, air-con/heating – are additional again.  

There’s no glovebox per se, however a storage compartment “as a result of clients have mentioned the glovebox opening panel tends to interrupt or loosen up.”  

All Peterbilt medium-duty vehicles function the brand new aluminum cab with a width of two.1 meters and a roof top of 74 inches for the flat-top model, and 78 inches for the curved roof (4 inches increased than the earlier model). The brand new cab is eight inches wider than the earlier technology and permits three adults to take a seat comfortably.  

Peterbilt opted for a D-shaped gasoline tank that permits for max gasoline quantity. Simply in entrance is the step, which is offset and nearer to the bottom, permitting protected and ergonomic entry and egress to the cab. The steps are additionally non-slip and perforated in order that no particles can accumulate on them.  

Three hood configurations can be found. The three-piece composite hood is simple to open, requiring 15 kilos of pulling effort in comparison with 65 kilos for the earlier model. A locking function prevents the hood from inadvertently closing.  

Recognizing the significance of ease of upkeep and uptime, Peterbilt engineers developed a three-piece bumper choice that permits solely the broken part to be modified within the occasion of a breakage, the headlight design permits a bulb to be modified in lower than 5 minutes, the entrance collision radar is protected within the bumper to keep away from having to recalibrate it within the occasion of a collision, and the mirrors are mounted on the cab as a substitute of the door to make sure higher long-term stability. 


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