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Kenworth offering 'glider' kits to make old trucks new again

Got a big rig that just can't make current emissions standards? Have an old truck languishing in the back lot and in need of an upgrade? KW is offering "glider kits" to allow new drive trains to be put into older rigs, bringing them up to standard and potentially saving truckers a lot of money in taxes and fees.


Kenworth Truck Company has released several glider kits for various popular models of its heavy-duty trucks to help owners bring older trucks back into service as "new."

A glider is a kit designed to install on an existing truck chassis and replace the non-powertrain components (interior, missing or broken body pieces, etc). They're meant to refurbish and restore trucks that have seen extensive wear or damage. From there, users can upgrade engine and other powertrain components to match current regulations (often these trucks require engine replacement) and be put back on the road as "used" - avoiding many taxes associated with a new truck and with non-compliant trucks.

There are exceptions to how the Federal Excise Tax (FET) is applied, of course, so if the truck is de-commissioned as a wreck, sees a change of service (moving from one use to another, such as from a dock-only to street use), or where restoration costs more than 75% of actual value, the FET will still be charged. In most cases, however, trucks currently shuttered pending de-comm or needing extensive repair after an accident could be upgraded to like-new using a glider kit and upgraded power train.

Kenworth is offering the kits in its T660, T800 (shown), and W900L (aka "W9 long nose") models. Kits are available through Paccar dealerships and it's likely that, if these are popular, other Paccar brands such as Peterbilt will follow.

“Gliders are a great alternative for fleets and owner operators with the tools and service technicians to bring a solid and existing powertrain back to life in a ‘brand new truck’,” said Alan Fennimore, vocational marketing manager at KW to Fleet Owner. “We’ve talked with several fleets that plan to purchase gliders and have their service technicians work on the conversions during slow or off periods. It can be an effective use of shop hours.”

This could be a boon to many companies who, previously, could not afford to upgrade older trucks to meet stringent California Air Resources Board (CARB) requirements or the low emissions requirements of the Port Authorities in the coastal states. Many of those trucks had little resell value and were being parked until used truck values increase. Now, those trucks can get back on the road as either platforms for upgrade or after being upgraded with new, compliant engines. Considering that the average Kenworth from a dealership costs in excess of $120,000 (not including the up to 12% FET), this could mean a lot of money saved.