A push into the vocational market

Western Star 49X engineered specifically for heavy-hauling, construction and trash.

November 2020

Tom Berg


Western Star has introduced a next-generation vocational model, the 49X, with a new cab, a lightweight chassis, and electronic safety equipment.

The Western Star 49X was engineered specifically for vocational duties, including heavy hauling, construction and trash. It is an addition to the manufacturer’s lineup, not a replacement for any current model, said David Carson, senior vice president of the vocational segment for Daimler Trucks North America, Portland, Ore., during a virtual news conference.

A dominant builder in the on-highway market with its Freightliner models, Daimler “is focused on making a push into the vocational market,” Carson said.

The new Western Star model will be a tool in that effort, which earlier this year began with a realigning of its internal marketing structure that will promote both nameplates’ vocational models.

The 49X will be available as a truck and tractor, with or without sleeper cabs, and with forward- or rear-set steer axles.

“We’ve completely rethought the foundation of the 49X to make it easier to upfit, deliver greater durability, return greater payload and improve productivity at the job site,” Carson said. “The clean-sheet design of the 49X enables total weight savings of over 350 pounds in like-for-like spec’ing compared to the current Western Star 4900.”

Helping is an all-new frame, using single-channel rail options in several thicknesses for great durability and RBM (resisting bending moment) strength ratings of up to 3.7 million inch-pounds. Optional C-channel inserts boost RBM ratings up to 5.4 million inch-pounds.

The Western Star 49X’s new cab is fashioned of aluminum with steel reinforcing, said Samantha Parlier, vice president for vocational market development. It is 8% lighter than the galvannealed steel cab of current Western Stars. Tall and wide doors open up to 70 degrees for easy entry and exit. Nonslip treads of the polished metal steps have holes of various sizes for self-cleaning of dirt, mud, ice and snow. An optional three-window backlight allows clear rear visibility, and the windshield is 28% larger than the current cab’s windshield.

The cab’s roof is recessed to accommodate marker lights and horns, allowing a low roof height.

Each side mirror is on a C-bar mount that will support up to 350 pounds, she said. The cab’s back and frame-rail tops are clear for close and easy body mounting. Headlamps are dual-stage LEDs with strong plastic covers wired inside with heating grids to melt snow and ice in cold weather. The hood is supported by an ISO-tech suspension system to isolate the fiberglass composite structure from shock and vibrations. Development work on the cab was the most extensive in Western Star history and included multiple cab crush tests to ensure cab integrity in case of a rollover. Full-vehicle shaker tests replicated 800,000 miles of use.

Available diesels include Detroit’s DD15 and DD16 and Cummins’ X12 and X15. Both Detroit engines come with Detroit Connect Virtual Technician remote diagnostic services to increase uptime and productivity.

Allison full automatics and Eaton automated and manual transmissions will be available, but the featured gearbox is a new Detroit DT12 Vocational series automated manual product. It is available as either the DT12-V or the DT12-VX and rated up to a gross combination weight rating of 330,000 pounds. The 12-speed DT12 has three driving modes – economy, performance and off-road – that include a “rock-free” function that can move the truck forward and backward to get it out of deep mud and snow, Parlier said. The DT12 can be fitted with a rear-drive power take-off or a standard eight-bolt PTO mount on the transmission’s left-side.

Detroit Assurance safety systems comprise the most advanced collision mitigation package in the vocational market, said Tracy Mack-Askew, general manager for vocational platforms. They include Side Guard Assist, which uses radar to detect moving objects and pedestrians on the passenger side that may otherwise fall in the operator’s blind spot. It also includes Active Brake Assist 5, which detects moving or stationary objects that works down to 5 mph. In addition, there are tailgate warning, adaptive cruise control to 0 mph, lane departure warning, video capture, “intelligent” high-beam, and automatic wipers and headlamps.

All Western Star 49X models come with all-metal exterior brightwork for a premium look and long-term durability, and a standard interior with upscale appointments, including metal accents.

An optional premium trim package uses richly crafted materials including woodgrain and diamond-stitched seating.

In all models, a wrap-around dash puts the driver command center and B-panel in easy line of sight of the operator. On the B-panel, a flex panel can be prepped for a tablet or configured for an additional 12 switches or 10 gauges. Along with a QuickFit Dash Access designed for telematics or other device integration, equipment control and device access is placed within easy reach for the operator.

The Western Star 49X is the most-tested truck that Daimler has developed, Mack-Askew said. Several prototypes are running with customers in Michigan and British Columbia and one has passed the 800,000-mile mark. The 49X is available for ordering now and is slated for production this year. LL