The first tangible fruits of the Volkswagen Traton take-over of Navistar International emerged in the USA this week when the storied truck brand unveiled its new integrated powertrain.
If the new 13 litre International S13 looks similar to Scania’s new Super 13 litre six cylinder diesel, that is because it is the same engine, while the 14 speed T14 AMT is in real terms a rebadged version of Scania’s new 14 speed Optishift AMT.
The ongoing integration of Navistar into the Traton family could potentially open the door for the International brand to re-enter the Australian market, as T&B News has long theorised. Navistar has already engineered its Prostar models for right hand drive, and now using a Scania driveline it means that would be homologated for Australian compliance.
A consolidated Traton operation down under, run out of its Scania facility in Melbourne would also provide a cost effective base for a potential rebirth of International here. The sticking point could be local length rules which seem to be working against conventional bonneted trucks, which is evident in the smaller sales volumes being achieved by the likes of Mack, Western Star and Freightliner.
However a reborn International with a world class, economical and efficient European driveline could be and proper back up could be a strong and profitable niche player in the market.
Navistar unveiled the new powertrain in the States this week, which is its first new on-highway product since Volkswagen subsidiary Traton took control in July 2021.
Navistar was the lone OEM without its own integrated driveline, with rival Paccar having had its own integrated engine transmission since 2017 when it released the DAF engineered MX 13 litre engine coupled to a 12 speed AMT, made by Eaton but badged as Paccar and used exclusively in both Kenworth and Peterbilts.
Navistar says that the new engine and transmission is the result of more than five years of development in collaboration with its Traton commercial truck sibling brands, including Scania, MAN and the Brazillian based Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.
Navistar’s executive vice president of operations, Michael Grahe said that the all-new International S13 Integrated Powertrain was the result of integration built on collaboration.
The company said that deploying a modular design approach allows for wide customisation, and that the International S13 Integrated Powertrain consists of three distinct components, with the engine, the transmission and the aftertreatment system, which it says were designed and developed concurrently to ensure compatibility and integration between the systems.
The new 13-litre S13 engine is being offerd in the USA with seven engine rating options, ranging up to 515 horsepower and 2508 Nm of torque.
“We see the future as predominantly a 13-litre market because it offers the best weight to power ratio,” Michael Grahe said.
As its sibling Scania indicated when it unveiled its new 13 litre late last year, this engine will probably be the last internal combustion power plant developed by the Traton Group, with Navistar, like the rest of the Group, expecting that half of all its new vehicles to be zero-emission by 2030 and that all of its trucks will achieve that goal by 2040.
Despite that Navistar president and CEO, Mathias Carlbaum said that the internal combustion engine will be required for many years to come, noting that the S13 was “the greatest leap toward carbon neutral transport ever by Navistar”.
“However this is the last combustion engine that we will ever develop,” said the Navistar boss.
As mentioned earlier, the new engine is based on the new low-rev, high-torque Scania Super, which we are yet to see in Australia, but which is due here in early 2023.
Navistar explains the engine has been designed for fewer fuel injections and lower overall fuel consumption and that it doesn’t have an EGR cooler. Selective catalytic reduction (SCR) is the primary means of emissions reduction and it flows 100 per cent of the exhaust to the fixed geometry turbocharger, which is a process that it says ensures a more complete fuel burn and cleaner air entering the combustion chamber on the intake cycle. This it claims mitigates soot build-up while increasing power.
“It’s not only the most efficient powertrain we’ve ever produced, but it’s also a milestone on our journey to the ultimate goal of zero emissions,” said Göran Nyberg, executive vice president, commercial operations for International.
Nyberg noted that the powertrain was the culmination of a five-year, clean sheet development process with the engine, transmission and aftertreatment system developed and integrated concurrently.