The latest Scania models, launched last year are brimming with new technology aiding to control the truck, save fuel and enhance safety. One major innovation, and a first in the trucking world, is a driver’s side curtain airbag, which deploys in the event of a rollover, greatly reducing the risk of injury to the driver. Scania claim a reduction in deaths from truck rollovers of 25 per cent is possible as a result of fitting these airbags, in combination with those in the steering wheel.
The first trucks to appear are those at the top end of the European truck market, the 4×2 and 6×2 long distance prime movers. These will be followed over time by the 6×4 versions preferred in Australia. We should be seeing the first models appearing on our roads in a couple of years, as the new models and adaptations to our conditions come through the pipeline.
When it comes to really assessing the changes in the new trucks, there is nothing which can compare with getting behind the wheel and taking the truck out onto the road. Climbing into the S Series means climbing up four steps to get to the flat floor sitting above the V8 engine’s tunnel.
Inside there is a sensation of more space. The driver’s seat has moved closer to the front corner of the cabin. The front axle is also set forward, too. Combine this with the much more upright A pillar and larger windows, and there is better visibility, both with a thinner A pillar and a decent-sized gap between the pillars and the rear view mirrors. These, incidentally are set further apart, making it easier to see what’s coming at road junctions.
Being told the seat has moved towards the front corner of the cabin doesn’t suggest a big improvement. However, sitting in the new seat demonstrates just how effective a move it is. There seems to be more room and the all-round visibility is significantly better and safer. The driver is in a tall truck at quite a height in the S Series, but blind spots are minimised.
It can be quite daunting scanning across the vast array of buttons and switches available to the driver in the new cabin. The driver’s door alone has fifteen buttons on it. This is because the controls for the lights have migrated across to the door, making them easier to access and see while driving.
The steering wheel itself has a record number of buttons as well, but the basic layout is similar to the current model’s so quickly becomes familiar. There is simply more functionality, with more control and automation on offer to the driver.