The All New 5700XE
The all new 5700XE has been in development for years. With the help of Western Star’s market research, extensive surveys, team of designers, engineers, and other Western Star experts, the dream was suddenly about to become reality.
An Inside Look from Daimler’s Senior Designer, Don Vena
Discussions about designing a new Western Star model date back to at least 2007. From the beginning, the new design had been internally known as “Project Phantom”. And so it began…
According to Don Vena, “The parameters for the program were to develop a premium long haul tractor based on the 4900EX. It was understood that Western Star manufactured the very best vocational and extreme duty trucks. What was lacking was a strong competitor for the premium on-highway market.” The market demand for such a competitive tractor insisted that it be aerodynamic, so this aspect had to be taken into consideration.
The project started with a team of designers who contributed to the initial styling of this new Western Star Truck. Upper management and the marketing department chose Don’s design for development. For many at DTNA, his design signified the “Flagship” motif, one of the buzz words that had been used to describe this truck. Don stated, “It’s a no-compromise design that stands out from the crowd – one that shows off refinement and speaks of quality. Edgy, aggressive and distinctive.”
Once the overall theme was chosen, Don Vena explains that additional sketches and renderings were created to refine the initial concept. “During this time, there are numerous internal reviews by the head of our design studio, Engineering, Product Development, Marketing and senior DTNA management like Martin Daum, CEO of Daimler Trucks of North America.” Don also worked closely with the Studio Engineer, Paul Shead, to perfect the design.
There was a 1/4 scale model created of the new 5700 that was made out of modeling clay. This 10′ long scale was then scanned to create a data model. A second scale model was created for wind tunnel testing where the exterior is honed to ensure aerodynamic performance. This testing was done in the ARC Wind Tunnel in Indianapolis, IN.
Once this wind tunnel testing was complete, a full scale model was created using a 5-Axis milling machine. It’s this 1:1 model that was evaluated for final design approval. At this time, certain customers and dealers were allowed into the studio for a “sneak preview” of the design. This was done to gauge their opinions and critiques which would then be applied to the model if necessary.
Once the full scale 5700 model was approved, Engineering completed all of their work to make sure the design could be produced. Then several prototype trucks were built to test all aspects of the new product. One of these trucks was then placed in DTNA’s full scale wind tunnel. This was the last chance to refine the design for maximum aerodynamic performance. Any changes detected here were added to the digital model and refined by Engineering.
From here, real world testing was conducted where the trucks were evaluated for endurance and performance. Any defects on these test trucks was redesigned and/or re-engineered. With everything in place, Western Star now had its all new 5700.
When asked his favorite feature on the all new 5700, Don stated, “The Fangs! Their creation came from wanting to maintain a classic Western Star feature which is the cycle fenders over the front wheels. In order to pay homage to that design, I had to pull out the corners of the front bumper. This created a totally unique look shared by no one else. At first these ‘fangs’ as I affectingly call them, where an aerodynamic penalty. It was only working diligently with one of the best aerodynamicist in the industry – John Brzustowicz – that we were able to turn a penalty into a benefit and maintain the unique style that the ‘fangs’ afford.”
To sum up the entire process, Don closes by saying, “In the end, we created a badass rig for the discerning trucker. 5700XE will stand out in the crowd and not be mistaken for any other truck on the road. Befitting a ‘Flagship’, she has the best-in-class aerodynamic performance in the premium segment. This is a truck exuding ‘Pride of Ownership’, something people will be proud to be seen in and drive. Western Star makes the most kick-ass rigs out there. The 5700XE adds to Western Star’s story and distinct product line-up.”