By Karl Mayer, Director of Product Line Management North American Truck Axles
As a result of technology advancements from Meritor, 6x2 axle systems are becoming increasingly popular with OEMs and fleet owners in North America. The 6x2 uses only one drive axle, with a Meritor FUELite reducing vehicle weight by as much as 400 pounds compared with similar 6x4 systems, producing a 2-to-4.6 percent boost in fuel efficiency. The increase in fuel efficiency is simply a result of having one less drive axle, which contributes to fewer gearset meshes and fewer lubricant churning losses.
Still, many American fleet owners have questioned how well a 6x2 performs when additional traction is needed. Meritor technology addresses this important factor by integrating FUELite 6x2 axles with Meritor WABCO Electronically Controlled Air Suspension (ECAS). The ECAS technology, introduced in the United States by Meritor WABCO, detects low-traction situations and automatically transfers the tag axle load to the drive axle for the short duration required to regain traction.
We highly recommend that fleets spec an automated load-shifting system like Meritor WABCO’s ECAS when considering 6x2 axles. With fuel savings enabled by FUELite axles and ECAS, operational costs are reduced, and traction is greatly improved. Don’t try to save money by eliminating a load-shifting system, because you will not be happy when trucks become stuck during low-traction events.
In the spirit of continuous improvement, Meritor already has implemented several design ideas to make 6x2 axles even more efficient and cost-effective.
- First, a square tube housing with integrated upper torque rod bracket replaces conventional round housings for the tag axle, helping to make the mounting of suspension to the axle much easier. OEMs therefore save time and cost in assembly.
- Secondly, Meritor is offering FUELite with a dual-track housing as standard equipment, giving fleets flexibility to convert from fuel-saving wide-base single tires to dual tires and vice versa. The housing allows trucks to remain within width limits even when converted from WBS to duals during resale.
- Finally, Meritor will continue to advance 6x2 and ECAS technologies. Ratios faster than 2.50 will allow trucks to travel at the speed limit with lower RPMs, conserving even more fuel. We are also looking at further automation to reduce driver interaction during low-traction events.
For more information on today’s 6x2s and their benefits, go to www.6x2facts.com.