Active grille shutters, LED light pipes among near-term technology on International concept truck (Video)

  • 15-Apr-2013 05:46 EDT
Chris Ito.JPG

Navistar's Director of Design & Innovation, Chris Ito, stands in front of the Project Horizon concept truck, which incorporates several advanced technologies and embodies a new design language for future products. (All images by Ryan Gehm)

The sleek blue Project Horizon concept truck is an aerodynamic, LED-laden harbinger for the International Truck brand. At the concept’s reveal at the 2013 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), Navistar President and CEO Troy Clarke said that Project Horizon “signals what’s right around the corner as we develop our next-generation offerings. This truck symbolizes the future: not the distant future, but the kinds of things that you’ll see from Navistar in the next 24 to 36 months.”

The concept truck incorporates a number of technologies and concepts “wrapped up in a visually exciting product,” said Chris Ito, Director of Design & Innovation, Vehicle Product Development at Navistar, during a vehicle walk-around at MATS.

“The Navistar Integrated Product Development Group is investigating a range of projects to address aerodynamics, driver comfort and safety, and low operating cost of our products,” Ito explained. For Project Horizon, the group worked closely with its aerodynamics team to apply best practices in the development of this sleek truck. One of the results was the application of active grille shutters. (Ito describes this application in detail in an SAE video at

Carbon-fiber film is used to wrap the grille shutters, as well as to accent other areas of the body, including the side mirror arms and portions of the rear chassis skirt. The film achieves the same high-tech look as actual carbon fiber but in a more economical way.

Another obvious theme of the concept truck is the extensive use of LED lighting, including a unique application of LED light pipes.

“Light-pipe technology is nothing new, but one thing that is very unique on this truck is selective illumination of the light pipe,” Ito said. “Instead of having five separate marker lamps with two or three LEDs [each] and two holes for fastening, we have one laser-etched light pipe that provides the forward illumination. That results in reduced weight and reduced complexity as well as installation opportunities by installing one assembly rather than five individual lamps.”

LEDs also play prominently in the headlamp and taillight design, helping to create a “nighttime signature” for product differentiation, said Ito. Orange-colored LEDs with a diffuser are embedded under a lip along each side of the concept, creating a reflection on the chassis skirts that accentuates the truck’s curves and stylishly serves as the side marker lamps.

Navistar worked with Federal-Mogul on the light-pipe technology. Truck-Lite provided LED lighting in the headlamps.

The truck maker also teamed with Hendrickson to adapt an independent front suspension system to the Project Horizon.

To improve driver visibility, the division bar with vent window is replaced with a one-piece side window, which makes the side DLO (daylight opening) significantly larger.

“Project Horizon is a concept truck, but most of what you see here is very feasible” for introduction in 24 to 36 months, Ito said. “We took a practical, applied approach” to this concept truck—“so it’s out there, but not outside the realm of reality.”

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The technology uses multiple foils with multiple messages and an LED light source. Each specific message is burned onto the holographic film through a photographic process.

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