Western Star debuts its next gen vocational truck

Western Star has introduced its next-generation vocational truck — the all-new 49X.

The new truck is built from the ground up to meet the needs of demanding applications. Reinforced by a stronger, lighter chassis and equipped with an all-new X-series cab, the 49X delivers more versatility in a purpose-built package. 

As well, the all-new Detroit DT12 vocational series of transmissions and Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems deliver improvements in safety, productivity and uptime.

“Our dealers, truck equipment manufacturers and, most importantly, our customers, rely on the dependability, reliability and sheer toughness of Western Star trucks,” said David Carson, senior vice president of the vocational segment at Daimler Trucks North America. 

“With the 49X, Western Star delivers on our promise of tough, while introducing segment-first safety features, an operator-focused experience and easier upfit solutions that will keep our customers’ businesses running smoothly.” 

Clean sheet design 

Western Star began with a “clean sheet” when designing the 49X, leading to a weight reduction of 159 kg in like-for-like spec’ing versus the current Western Star 4900. That weight savings starts with an all-new vocational frame. 

Single channel frame rail options are available in a variety of thicknesses and feature best-in-class RBM (Resisting Bending Moment) strength rating for single channel of up to 418,043 Nm, yielding greater durability and weight savings. For added strength, C-channel frame reinforcements are available that reach an RBM rating of 610,118 Nm. 

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Multiple parent rail front frame extension options are available for applications requiring front-mounted equipment, such as a plow.

“A vocational truck is a tool for a job,” Carson said. “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 jobsite.”

Western Star’s clear back-of-cab packaging for the 49X allows for easier upfit with features that include: 

  • Forward mounted DEF tanks.
  • Standard in-cab battery box.
  • Multiple air tank mounting locations.
  • Air dryer mounted under hood (SBA) or under cab (SFA).
  • Optimized fuel tank sizes.
  • Compact Detroit aftertreatment system.
  • Functional dual vertical exhaust stacks.

“Our customers depend on Western Star trucks to stand up to gruelling conditions,” Carson said. “We developed the 49X with the input of those customers, and then tested it where they work to ensure it’s ready for the toughest environments.”

The Western Star X-series cab

The all-new X-series cab was designed specifically for vocational applications and provides additional vehicle weight savings, while delivering long-term durability and operator comfort.

Advanced topology optimization was used to ensure rigidity and strength, and determine where additional material was needed in the steel-reinforced aluminum cab. 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 1,287,000 km of use to test the cab mount system, which incorporates vocational cab isolators mounted outboard for optimal stability and reduced fatigue to both the operator and the cab. It is the segment’s largest cab and offers 10 to 13 per cent more space.

In all models, a wrap-around dash puts the driver command centre 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 seamless telematics or other device integration, equipment control and device access is placed within easy reach for the operator.

The hood of the 49X is constructed of high-strength, lightweight molded composite for superior impact resistance and durability. The new hood uses a patented ISO Tech Hood Suspension system that behaves similarly to a typical coil-over shock suspension with spring and damper. 

The system isolates, absorbs and dissipates vibrations from the chassis when driving over uneven terrain to protect the hood from damage and cracking.

 Under the hood

The 49X introduces the Detroit DT12 vocational series of automated manual transmissions. 

Available as either the DT12-V or the DT12-VX and rated up to a GCWR of 150,000 kg, the DT12 vocational series was validated in over 56 million kilometres of testing to deliver performance and durability and can be mated to the Detroit DD15 Gen 5 engine or Detroit DD16 engine. 

Notably, the DT12 Vocational series of transmissions include side PTO capabilities that allow for added flexibility, and unique work application modes and shift map strategies. 

A rock-free mode allows the 49X to free itself from wheel stuck situations, and an off-road mode enables smooth driving on extreme terrain, like logging roads and rock quarries. As well, the 49X is equipped with Power Launch, which provides powerful takeoffs while protecting the clutch and driveline, and a paver mode which allows the truck to shift from neutral to drive without depressing the brake pedal when pulling away.

For safety, the 49X is enabled thanks to the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems, which includes:

  • Side Guard Assist (SGA). 
  • Active Brake Assist 5. 
  • Tailgate Warning.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control. 
  • Lane Departure Warning. 
  • Video Capture.
  • Intelligent High-Beam.
  • Automatic Wipers and Headlamps.

With optional SGA, radar technology detects moving objects and pedestrians on the passenger side of the 49X that may otherwise fall in the operator’s blind spot and alerts them with both auditory and visual warnings, providing technology for safety on the jobsite or on the way there.

“The real stars of every jobsite are the men and women working at it, which is why the Western Star 49X was engineered to deliver best-in-class safety with Detroit, easier entry and exit to reduce workplace injury and best-in-class visibility to benefit not only the operator, but the entire crew,” Carson said.

With slips, trips and falls serving as the second most common type of workplace injury, Western Star design-engineered ergonomic ingress and egress for the 49X. Door opening angles of 70 degrees, five hand holds and step treads widened by a centimetre and constructed as a staircase help facilitate safer entry and exit from the cab. The steps start closer to the ground and use a volcano tread for confident footholds with high traction, added toe clearance and mud, dirt and debris pass through.


The 49X’s best-in-class visibility comes from a sloped hood enabled by splayed frame rails, a lowered engine position, underhood engine air filtration, a 28 per cent larger single-piece roped-in windshield and an optional three-piece rear window that is 77 per cent larger compared to the 4900. 

Optional Borofloat glass in the front windshield and optional polycarbonate in the rear windows provide impact resistance from debris. 

Furthermore, a C-bar mirror system features door-mounted mirrors that mitigate the effects of chassis and engine vibration to keep them stable and usable in off-road or paving applications where visibility by the operator to the crew at the back of the truck is critical.   

“Our bottom-line intent was to deliver a truck that benefits our customers’ bottom lines,” Carson said. 

“We know the conditions our customers are working in, we know the challenges of their operations and we know that productivity at the site matters most. That’s why the all-new 49X is purpose-built for durability, safety and maximum uptime — and for our customers.”

The Western Star 49X is expected to be available for ordering this winter, with deliveries beginning in early 2021.