Detroit Diesel — a familiar brand name in the motorhome business -– surfaced again at Newmar Corp.’s April 9-11 dealer meeting in the Dallas suburbs where the engine builder’s factory personnel were on hand with a display model of the legendary power plant set up in the middle of the Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp. exhibit.
The optional inclusion of a 500-hp variant of the DD13 engine on a Freightliner SLR chassis equipped with a passive tag axle in Newmar’s 2014 Essex Class A actually marks the second time in recent years that a power plant from the Detroit-based Daimler AG subsidiary has made its presence felt in the motorhome business, the first being a 500-hp DD13 available last year in Fleetwood RV Inc.’s upscale 2012 American Eagle Class A.
A standard Newmar Essex, retailing for $750,000, is assembled on a Spartan K2 chassis powered by a 500-hp. Cummins ISX 12L engine.
Detroit Diesel used to be a common brand name in Class A motorhome power plants and has remained a staple in over-the-road motorcoaches, fire trucks and heavy-duty truck markets throughout the recession.
“In prior years, we had a significant market share (in motorhomes), but then in the last probably ten or 15 years that market was somewhat overlooked where competitive product was offered,” reports Pam Esshaki, an assembly quality coordinator for Detroit Diesel. “And our goal is to bring back the Detroit product into the RV business and to get the dealerships and the public aware of the changes that we’ve made to Detroit products from the older year engines – the enhancements and the investment to durability, reliability and extended life that we’ve made on these engines.”
Esshaki, a 40-year Detroit Diesel veteran, says the DD13 was completely redesigned by 2008 to meet 2010 emission standards by the engine manufacturer, which she describes as a leader in producing compliant, fuel-efficient engines.
“Because of these new requirements, it took us back to looking at the blueprint of the product and changing everything in relationship to fuel pressures, oil capacity and extended life,” Esshaki tells RVBUSINESS.com. “And so we have designed an engine on which 97% of the parts sit above the frame so that you have easy accessibility for maintenance and service. We’ve got extended oil interval changes on the application, also extended V&I, which is equivalent to your tune up or valve lash adjustment intervals (setting gaps between the button on the rocker arm and the top of the valve) and, most importantly, the engine’s life, which in this case is 1.2 million miles.”
Doug Weatherly, senior sales manager for Detroit Diesel, says the DD13 is “top of the line” in terms of fuel efficiency.
“We have an innovative component they call ‘Virtual Technician’ that’s available only on the DD13 engine that provides the owner-operator with a very unique and safe feel while driving the coach,” said Weatherly. “If an engine light comes on in the coach, he will be notified within three minutes by our service center that the code was received by our technicians and he will be told that it’s either a ‘service now’ or ‘service later’ condition. This gives him peace of mind while he’s out in the middle of nowhere operating the vehicle.“
When the light comes on, says Weatherly, notification goes to the company’s Detroit call center where technicians analyze the fault, get a snapshot of the engine’s operating parameters and, within three minutes, determine whether or not parts are required. If they are, they identify the nearest distributor to the vehicle and let the customer know by cell phone exactly how to get there.”
He added, “The distributor also gets the e-mail with the troubleshooting guide and the parts list required so that when the customer arrives they’re prepared and ready to repair the vehicle.”