Daimler Vocational Truck Competition sows art, engineering

Teamed with Los Angeles’ ArtCenter College of Design, Daimler Trucks North America and Western Star Truck Sales challenged transportation students to envision vehicles meeting the needs of vocational customers in 2030 and beyond. Concepts displayed late last month at the 2019 North American Commercial Vehicle Show, Atlanta, included a novel concrete mixer truck whose control package is contained in a cab where passenger space gives way to a platform, ladder and hatch for better visibility and safety.

Students David Lee and Eric Vosghanian crafted the respective exterior and interior designs reflecting driver and mixer truck performance expectations from 2030 forward.

Joining the mixer in Vocational Truck Competition submissions were a plow that inhales snow and turns it into vapor rather than pushing it aside; crane truck with an electro-translucent roof that goes from solid to clear at the push of a button for better handling visibility; and, diesel engine that slides out from its compartment for easier access.

“We tapped some of the brightest minds in transportation design to gain new and different perspectives on what vocational trucks might look like in the future,” says Western Star Vice President of Marketing and Strategy Samantha Parlier. “Two of the students have already started internships with DTNA, and we’re excited for the opportunity to incorporate some of this bold thinking into our long-term vocational strategy.”

The competition wasn’t just an exercise in drawing futuristic-looking vehicles, she adds, as students examined challenges vocational truck operators face today and considered how the industry and operating demands will evolve. Participants took a deep dive into every aspect of the industry, driver experience and the vehicle, and considered connectivity, electrification and other innovations that will continue to impact heavy-duty trucking. A variety of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, including dealer meetings, driver interviews, on-site visits and social media afforded them a deep understanding of the industry.