Top of the Horsepower Tree

Top of the Horsepower Tree

Not that long ago most (if not all) of Europe’s truck makers were still vying to climb to the top of the horsepower tree, reckons Diesel News’ European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley. Today it’s another story altogether. I’d say the first truck maker to publicly take its foot off the power pedal was Mercedes.


Top of the Horsepower Tree


Back in 2011, at the launch of the original ‘new’ Actros, I asked Daimler’s vice president for truck engineering Georg Weiburg ‘Do you want to have the World’s Most Powerful Series Production Truck’? High torque, rather than high horsepower was, he said, the priority for Mercedes and 600hp was probably as high as most operators needed.


It was an insightful reply. Indeed, when Merc’s 15.6 litre OM473 LA in-line six (currently offered in Actros and Arocs) appeared in 2013 it had a 630hp top rating. Despite having the capacity to go higher, it’s stayed there, happily sitting above 580 and 520hp versions.


It’s been a similar story for MAN. Having once made Europe’s most powerful prime mover, a TGX with a whopping 680hp 16.2-litre V8, in 2014 the men from Munich dropped their vee-block in favour of the all-new D38 15.2-litre six-pot. While D38 comes with a top-rating of 640hp and 3,000Nm of torque, note this, it’s strictly-for heavy-haulage chassis applications up to 250-tonnes GCW.


For ‘regular’ haulage applications, D38 is rated at 520hp/2,500Nm and 560hp/2,700Nm. Having driven both at 40 tonnes at the launch, the 520hp D38 was more than enough for me, and why wouldn’t it be with 11.8hp/tonne on tap? At the time of its launch, MAN’s senior managers went out of their way to stress that with D38 they wanted maximum efficiency rather than record power. At the time that struck me as eminently sensible. It still does.


What about the others? Back in 1992 Renault briefly led the field when it offered a 520hp Mack V8 beneath its iconic flat-floored Magnum cab. Today, its latest T-range prime mover’s 13-litre ‘DTI 13’ in-line six delivers an identical 520hp, albeit with 2,550Nm of torque.


As for Iveco, its 12.8-litre Cursor 13 fitted in Stralis peaks at 570hp. And while Fiat Powertrain Technologies (the company which supplies Iveco with its engines) has a 15.9-litre Cursor 16 capable of being rated up to 875hp and 3,500Nm of torque, it’s only available for construction, power-generation and agricultural applications. In the latter category it’s already chalked-up its first ‘World’s Most Powerful…’ superlative, in the 625hp New Holland Agriculture CR10.90 combine harvester.


Top of the Horsepower Tree


Might we yet see a Cursor 16 powering a European heavy?  If you took the amount of money you’d need to engineer it into a Stralis or Trakker, then divided it by the number of vehicles you’d sell in Europe, you’d probably have to charge a heck of a lot for it just to recover the investment. Ah…but what about for Australia I hear you ask? I’ll come to that in a minute.


Flat Floor Thoughts

Flat Floor Thoughts

The long-awaited arrival of the right-hand-drive Renault ‘T High’ tractor in the UK has given Diesel News’ European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley, some flat floor thoughts – thinking about the benefits of flat-floor cab-overs to overnighters.

Flat Floor Thoughts

Frankly, I’m surprised more manufacturers don’t do it. ‘Do what?’ I hear you ask Down Under. Build more flat-floor cab-over models, that’s what. Given the fact that every night hundreds of thousands of European long-haul drivers are bedding down for the night in a truck (and I reckon 99.99 per cent of them will be doing it in a cab-over prime mover) you’d think that all of Europe’s truck makers would be keen to make their cabs as easy to move around in as possible.


And what better way to ensure effortless cross-cab access and boost the size of your bedroom than by removing the engine hump and replacing it with a perfectly flat cab floor? Yet so far, only three of the major players – Mercedes, Renault and Scania – actually offer one. DAF, Iveco, MAN and Volvo heavies have all still got the ‘hump’, albeit of modest height on their flagship models.


What’s got me writing about flat floors? The recent (and long-awaited) arrival in the UK of the right-hand-drive version of Renault’s towering ‘Range T High’ prime mover complete with a flat-floor cab. While it’s been around ever since the French manufacturer unveiled its Range T long-distance heavy-truck range back in 2013, up until now T Highs have only been available in left-hand drive. So if you were a UK haulier who wanted one, it had to be a left-hooker.


While a couple have gone to Pommie hauliers (primarily international operators running onto the continent where a left-hooker makes more sense), calls for a right-hand-drive T High have been slowly mounting, not least from Renault Trucks UK, who clearly sees its sales potential amongst those small fleets and owner-drivers looking for a prestige overnighter.


Of course, some of us in the press have been more than ready to add our own ten cents worth, usually along the lines of, “why should the continentals have all the pleasures of a T High flat-floor cab in left-hand drive and not us in right-hand drive?”


However, given that the UK and Ireland still insist on having the steering wheel on the other side of the cab, it’s not unusual for right-hand-drive chassis to be at the back of the production queue whenever a new model is launched, as the priority will inevitably be towards the volume left-hand-drive markets. And just as important, if you’re going to engineer a truck for right-hand drive you’d better be sure the cost of doing it will be more than covered by the number you’ll sell. But even so…


Fortunately the folks in Lyon have finally relented with the result that Renault Trucks UK recently proclaimed, “In response to the changing UK and Irish markets, and a clear demand from customers, we are delighted to announce the introduction of a newly engineered right-hand-drive Range T High, available from early 2018.” Better late than never I say.

Flat Floor Thoughts

Three Models to Choose From


British hauliers keen to get their hands on a T High right-hooker have three models to choose from, all based on the current Range T driveline consisting of the 13-litre ‘DTI 13’ in-line six- and 12-speed Optidriver two-pedal auto.


The first, the ‘International’, features fabric seats with a rotating passenger seat, standard bunk and steel wheels, and is available at 440hp and 480hp in a 6×2 configuration only, 6x2s being the industry-standard prime mover for six-axle, top-weight, 44-tonne GCM semi operations in Blighty. The International’s sensible power ratings will doubtless also appeal to those fleet buyers under pressure to retain drivers with a decent flagship cab, but who don’t want a stampede of horses underneath it.


Next comes the ‘Driver’, with 440hp, 480hp and 520hp 13-litre ratings, plus a little more comfort including full-leather seats, again with the rotating passenger chair, ‘performance’ lower and ‘ultimate’ upper bunks, a big fridge, compact dashboard, Alcoa alloy wheels, aluminium suzie support and additional catwalk.


Finally, there’s the top-of-the-range ‘Driver Lux’. Offered with either the 480hp or 520hp DTI 13, it boasts even more goodies including a tilting backrest on the bunk, big lockers, luxury curtains, laminated side windows and aluminium air tanks. But in all three cases they have that all-important flat floor.

Highway Hero, Hino Expansion, VW Plan and Cummins Getting Batteries

Highway Hero, Hino Expansion, VW Plan and Cummins Getting Batteries

We hear about a Highway Hero, Hino Expansion, VW Plan and Cummins Getting Batteries in Diesel News this week.



Capability and confidence is at a high for Hino with increased involvement from five of Australia’s largest automotive and commercial vehicle retail groups.


“During 2017 and 2018, we will open three new Hino dealerships and upgrade four existing sites to meet increased demand,” said Bill Gillespie, Hino Australia’s General Manager Brand and Franchise Development. “It is significant that we have increased investment from five of Australia’s largest automotive and commercial vehicle retail groups in key locations across the country, namely Automotive Holding Group/AHG (Coffs Harbour), Sci Fleet (Eagle Farm, Brisbane), CMV Group (Laverton, Melbourne), AP Eagers (Mascot, Sydney) and the Suttons family-owned group (Arndell Park, Sydney).


“To cope with increased demand for truck sales, parts and service in western Sydney, we recently opened a brand new dealership in Arndell Park.”


Highway Hero, Hino Expansion, VW Plan and Cummins Getting Batteries
Toll Group employee, Steve Bolton.

Highway Hero


Melbourne-based truck driver Steve Bolton is the latest recipient of the Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian Award, which was presented at the Australian Trucking Association (ATA)/Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association (ARTSA) Technical and Maintenance Conference (TMC) this week.


Steve is an employee of Toll Group and is a senior leader on the Coles South East Queensland contract.


The Bridgestone Bandag Highway Guardian award recognises his swift action and invaluable assistance to emergency services after witnessing a car roll into a river on the Tweed Valley Highway.


Steve was praised for his cooperation with police and other attending services in recovering the driver of the vehicle.


Steve has been with Toll Group since 2008 and over that time has boasted an exemplary driving record. He is also one of Toll Group’s driver trainers and plays an active role in the accreditation of drivers.


VW Plans for the Future


Volkswagen Truck & Bus claim their pioneering technology and products will transform the entire logistics chain in a sustainable way. The Group, which includes brands such as MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen, has set itself the goal of increasing efficiency and improving environmental performance in the world of transportation, as well as making it safer.


VW is focusing on three trend-setting fields, namely automated driving, connectivity, and alternative drive systems. On the development side, Volkswagen Truck & Bus is pooling its brands’ resources with the aim of leveraging synergies and incorporating the strengths of the individual brands in an optimum way. The concept of lead engineering plays a key role in this process.


“We are organising collaboration and by doing so apply lead engineering which delegates responsibility for common development projects to one brand,” said Anders Nielsen, CTO at Volkswagen Truck & Bus. “This is to avoid duplication and leverage synergies by re-using technologies across the brands. This will allow us to free up research and development resources to focus on new technologies as well as to be faster to market in a cost-efficient way.”


‘Global Champion Strategy’ is the concept under which Volkswagen Truck & Bus and its brands of MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus have given their commitment to achieve the mission of “driving transportation to the next level.” These are the words used by Andreas Renschler, CEO of Volkswagen Truck & Bus, describing how the young company envisages its dynamic role with regard to the future. “In the here and now,” he adds, “we’re demonstrating the Group’s power of innovation in a number of different ways.”


VW reckons it heads the European field in the connectivity of trucks. Planned expansion of the shared cloud-based platform being jointly developed by MAN, Scania, and RIO will continue. The North American cooperation partner, Navistar, will shortly be joining this platform, as recently announced at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.


The next step will involve the integration of truck convoy operations across all brands, in other words putting together platoons made up of different brands of vehicles. Development continues with projects ranging from autonomous vehicles in mines, through platooning on Singapore’s public roads, to driverless safety vehicles on German highways.


Cummins Buys Battery Maker


Cummins has announced it is acquiring the assets of Brammo, which designs and develops battery packs for mobile and stationary applications. Adding Brammo’s battery pack expertise and resources could be an important milestone in Cummins’ efforts to become a global electrified power leader.


“To be a leading provider of electrified power systems just as we are with diesel and natural gas driven powertrains, we must own key elements and subsystems of the electrification network,” said Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins. “By adding the expertise of Brammo and its employees to Cummins, we are taking a step forward in our electrification business and differentiating ourselves from our competition. As always, when markets are ready, Cummins will bring our customers the right power solution at the right time to power their success.”

New Scania, Trucking Optimism, a Major Fine and Electric Axles

New Scania, Trucking Optimism, a Major Fine and Electric Axles

The news from Diesel this week shows evidence of a new Scania, trucking optimism, a major fine and electric axles, with stories from around the world.


Images of the next generation Scania driving on Australian roads have started to appear on social media, as the Swedish truck maker run the new models in a, far from secret, evaluation program. 

New Scania, Trucking Optimism, a Major Fine and Electric Axles


New Scania, Trucking Optimism, a Major Fine and Electric Axles

Truck Sales Up


The latest monthly truck sales figures released by the Truck Industry Council (TIC) this week demonstrate optimism from truck buyers and show a strong truck market, when compared to the figures from last September. National sales figures are showing a rise in sales over the year when compared to 2016. Overall sales sit at 26,294 so far this year, they were just 23,951 at the same point last year.


While just about every truck brand is showing an increase in sales, some have made major gains over 2016. The two German brands MAN and Mercedes Benz, now selling new models and with MAN supplying the Defence Forces, have increased sales with numbers up 198 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.


Major Fine for Scania


Scania has been hit with an 880 million ($1,316 million) after being found to be part of a trucks cartel by the European Commission. The charges reckon the Swedish truck maker colluded for 14 years with five other European truck manufacturers on the pricing of trucks. There were also irregularities in passing on the costs of new technologies to meet exhaust emission regulations.


This follows the fining of MAN, DAF, Daimler, Iveco and Volvo/Renault last year after they also admitted to have acted in a cartel-like fashion. Scania had elected not to settle early and underwent a full investigation.


“The decision marks the end of our investigation into a very long lasting cartel, 14 years,” Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager, is quoted as saying in reports from Europe. “This cartel affected very substantial numbers of road hauliers in Europe, since Scania and the other truck manufacturers in the cartel produce more than 9 out of every 10 medium and heavy trucks sold in Europe. These trucks account for around three quarters of inland transport of goods in Europe and play a vital role in the European economy. Instead of colluding on pricing, the truck manufacturers should have been competing against each other, also on environmental improvements.”


Electric Axles


Meritor has announced it is developing a platform of electric drive axles and suspensions as well as supporting systems with the intention to position the company as a leader in electric solutions for the commercial vehicle market.


“Essentially, we’re focusing on integrating an electric motor into the differential carrier,” said Jay Craig, CEO and president for Meritor. “As we look to future emissions regulations and our customers’ desire for more efficiency, we’re developing new and innovative solutions to expand our product portfolio.”


Meritor designed the e-carrier as a drop-in replacement of a conventional mechanical carrier that does not disrupt axle or suspension packaging. Because the electric motor is integrated into the axle, space is freed up for batteries and other electrical components, offering easier packaging and installation and a safer, more protected location inside the frame rails to mount the batteries.

Looking at the Rental Option

Looking at the Rental Option

In 2017, the attitude in the trucking industry with regard to truck leasing is improving; many operators are now looking at the rental option.

 Looking at the Rental Option

When Penske Truck Rental came into the Australian market a few years back the image of this part of the industry did not have the best reputation. However, according to Penske Truck Rental boss Adrian Beach, the market has improved and the offering to operators has improved accordingly.


In the past, rental trucks were a last-ditch option when all else had failed. Now, an improved image and improved rental fleet around the country means operators are looking seriously at truck rental as an option.


“A couple of companies who have, like ourselves, entered the market have brought in a little more professional attitude and culture around it,” says Adrian. “The daily hire trucks you see going down the road with the blue stripes on, that’s not really a good long-term solution. Initially, most of our customers rented for a day or two when their truck was in the workshop.


“Then it turned into situations like when the operator takes on a new driver and wants to see if they are any good before committing to a new truck. Our customers just seemed to find more and more reasons to use the hire fleet. We have some customers who deal with a large company like Woolworths, where they don’t have a long-term commitment on their contract; it could end at any day. They will run a rental truck until their customer gives a long-term commitment.


“When I look at our rental fleet now, I would say 50 per cent is on rental contracts of four months or longer and the rest of the rental fleet gets in-and-out action. One day here, two days there, it comes in, gets cleaned, undergoes a safety check and then goes back out there on the rental line.”


Some of the longer rentals are coming at peak seasons in areas where products like grain or sugar cane are being hauled for set periods. Christmas and Easter also create increased hire demand. Three- or six-month contracts are becoming popular for short-term tasks.


“We talk to a lot of customers who, when refreshing their fleet, would order new equipment and purchase it before their busy season, run with the full fleet, and then when that died out, sell off the oldest ones,” says Adrian. “At their busiest season, when their customers are most reliant upon their service, they have the oldest trucks in their fleet breaking down. Now, they don’t have to do that, The truck is sold when it needs to be and they pick up rentals trucks for their peak season needs.”


“With the daily rental, you are paying for that as a bit of a luxury,” says Adrian. “It includes registration, tyres, servicing, all of that. However, we do a lot of long-term fully maintained operating leases. If someone has a lot of trucks and wants to introduce this to their fleet, we will look at the application and put together a specific truck. We can customise it, it can be plain white or in full livery. Then we look at how many kilometres a year it will do, its maintenance, structure, its whole financing. We put together a lease term so by the time we are terminating the lease, it’s still a good truck and we can sell it for a good price. It looks better than other trucks on the market.


“In those situations, we can make it more cost effective than owning, because I am going to be able to buy that truck for less than a six- or seven-truck fleet owner is going to pay. I will have a plan to get out of that truck at just the right time and I have got in-house expertise to help me get the most out that truck.


“The deal puts our needs and operators needs in line. In normal ownership, when you go to the dealership, the dealer is happy when the truck rolls into his workshop, because he knows he’s going to make some money. We are the opposite, maintenance costs are built into a monthly payment, so it behooves me do as good a job as I can on preventative maintenance. The truck is best for me when it’s out on the road working.”


All of the trucks in the fleet are fitted with telematics and when the truck is out working, the maintenance schedule is fine tuned to cater for the actual work the truck is doing. Intervals can be extended or reduced to ensure consistent performance and minimise downtime. The more data you have the better the preventative maintenance will be. 

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

In the news this week have been a Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks and the need for supporting infrastructure.


Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks
2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge – on-road winner, Kerri Connors, of Caltas, Tasmania.


Tasmanian Kerri Connors, of Caltas, was named winner of the 2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge on-road category in a competition which put Australia’s most fuel-efficient drivers head to head. The off-road title was claimed by Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel in Victoria. Over a two-day event at Mt Cotton in Queensland, the competition was whittled down from 17 drivers in the semi-final, to nine in the final.

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks
2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge – off-road winner, Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel, Victoria.


“Highlighting the huge impact every driver has on a company’s fuel consumption, out of the nine drivers in the final, Kerri completed the challenging on-road course using 7.8 per cent less fuel than least-efficient driver in this year’s final, and keeping in mind these are the best of the best,” said Mitch Peden, Volvo Vice President. “In a real-world scenario, that equates to massive savings for operators.”


This year Volvo identified the competitors using data from Dynafleet, instead of running a series of heats around the country, comparing the telematics scores to identify the nation’s best-performing drivers.


“All competitors had consistently demonstrated fuel-efficiency while driving fully-laden trucks on genuine commercial journeys,” said Mitch, “consistency like that over months is a lot harder to achieve than getting lucky on a single day.”


Building more trucks in Australia

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

Iveco is to start building an additional Stralis model in its Dandenong facility in Melbourne. The truck is currently sold in Australia as a fully imported model, but from the fourth quarter of 2017 the Stralis ATi will be assembled at Dandenong, as the Stralis AT. Selected components including mirrors, wheel angles, trailer connections, batteries, wheels and liquids will be sourced locally.


The Stralis AT variants will include a 6×4 prime mover and 6×2 rigid in a variety of specification options, and will join existing Stralis AS-L, Powerstar, Acco and Delta and Metro bus chassis models, which are locally built and/or manufactured in Melbourne.


The new truck will see the Dandenong facility undergo investment in tooling and software to calibrate the AT’s adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, and in doing so introduces new technology to the site.


New Penske Dealer


Penske Commercial Vehicles has announced the appointment of Penske Power Systems as Brisbane dealer. Located in Wacol, Penske Power Systems will provide the services previously provided by Penske Commercial Vehicles’ Brisbane Truck Centre, as the exclusive retail sales, service and parts dealer in Brisbane, responsible for Western Star Trucks, MAN and Dennis Eagle.


“We have seen the successful transition of dealerships to Penske Power Systems across several locations over the last eight months,” said Kevin Dennis, Managing Director of Penske Commercial Vehicles. “The sixth location to be appointed as a sales dealership, Penske Power Systems in Wacol has a reputation for providing excellent service to its customer base.


“This transition will allow us to leverage the broad Penske Power Systems network and streamline operations, providing customers with the same outstanding service delivered by Penske Power Systems in Mackay, Townsville, Darwin, Cairns, Perth and Sydney.”


Autonomous Trucks need infrastructure


Kings Transport and Logistics CEO, Tony Mellick, expects that autonomous trucks will become the norm rather than the exception, particularly for single pickup and delivery runs.


“I think the application in long-distance movement of freight by autonomous trucks is sound,” said Mellick. “Having the ability to send out 200 tonnes of freight rather than 20-34 tonnes by platooning three or more trucks, is a cost-effective way of moving freight. It’s safer because it removes fatigue from the risk matrix and, given the constraints of the current labour market, would be a welcome solution for most long-distance service providers.”


Mellick says that while new vehicle technologies are certainly heading in the direction of connected autonomy, it is less clear how soon Australia will have the infrastructure to support driverless trucks on our highways.


“All this is reliant on investment by governments to build the infrastructure into the highways and roads to facilitate it,” said Mellick. “My understanding is that for autonomous trucks to be viable, there need to be sensors, monitors and technology embedded along the road to keep the truck from straying out of the lanes, for instance. Apart from Eastlink in Melbourne, I’m not aware of any infrastructure enabling the commercialisation of autonomous trucks in Australia.”



Truck Sales Take Off, Isuzu Bullbars, Groeneveld Takeover and Penske Expansion

Truck Sales Take Off, Flynn Liquidation, Isuzu Bullbars and Penske Expansion

The news in the world of trucks this week includes Truck Sales Taking Off, Flynn Liquidation, Isuzu Bullbars, Groeneveld Takeover and a Penske Expansion.

Truck Sales Take Off, Isuzu Bullbars, Groeneveld Takeover and Penske Expansion

The latest sales figures released by the Truck Industry Council (TIC) suggest an optimistic trucking industry is starting to invest in more new trucks at the heavier end of the market. Although the light- and medium-duty markets have been relatively strong in recent years, the heavy-duty segment has been less dynamic.

The last few months have seen the mood change, with higher heavy-duty sales, especially, but not exclusively, of cab-overs. Kenworth had a good sales month at 212 new trucks registered, but four other brands sold over 100 trucks each, Volvo, Isuzu, Scania and Mack.

This means heavy-duty sales are well up on last year. The first half of 2016 saw 4,510 heavy-duty sales, whereas 2017’s first six months has seen 5,130 sales of heavy-duty trucks.

These aren’t massive rises, but do indicate a real increase in demand for the more expensive trucks on the market, suggesting improving conditions for operators using heavy trucks and a belief any upturn is likely to continue for some time.


Flynn Liquidation


Lismore-based company, Flynn Transport, has gone into voluntary liquidation, with all assets to be sold in efforts to settle debts to creditors.

Though it has been reported that the liquidation has been prompted by internal fraud, Morgan Lane, Partner of Worrells Solvency & Forensic Accountants which is handling the process, declined to comment on the matter.


Isuzu Bullbars


Truck Sales Take Off, Isuzu Bullbars, Groeneveld Takeover and Penske Expansion


Component maker for the automotive, truck and defence industries Abcor has announced a new five-year supplier contract with Isuzu to produce bull bars. The company says the deal represents the culmination of a long and involved development program with Isuzu in Japan and Australia to supply bull bars for Isuzu trucks for the Australian and New Zealand markets with potential to export to other Isuzu markets globally.


Penske to Perth


Truck Sales Take Off, Isuzu Bullbars, Groeneveld Takeover and Penske Expansion


Penske Truck Rental will commence operations in Perth effective on 1 August, expanding to five branches nationally. The new operation will co-locate with Penske Power Systems in the Hazelmere branch.

The new rental operation will offer a range of trucks for the Perth hire fleet including new 120‐tonne MAN TGX D38 prime movers, 45‐tonne MAN TGS 440 prime movers, and Western Star 2800 6×2 14‐pallet body trucks.


Groeneveld Takeover


Timken has reached an agreement with Henk Groeneveld for the acquisition of the Groeneveld Group. In over 45 years the Groeneveld Group has grown into a global player in the field of products and services for on- and off-road equipment. It is present in around 40 countries worldwide and has almost 600 employees and a manufacturing operation in Italy.

“I am proud that Groeneveld becomes part of Timken, a great company, which is in the benefit of all stakeholders, including employees, customers and suppliers,” said Henk Groeneveld, Non-Executive President, Groeneveld.

Getting Smart About Repairs

Getting Smart About Repairs

For some workshops it’s all about straightforward servicing, for others, handling more repairs can strengthen the business. Diesel News has been talking to one such workshop in Adelaide.


Getting Smart About Repairs


South Australia is tough on trucks. They pull high masses at high average speeds for long trips, this makes plenty of work for repair shops. Engines, turbos, diffs and transmissions need to be replaced and if the truck does crash at high speed the body shop has a major task on its hands.


Wakefield Trucks, based in the northern Adelaide suburb of Salisbury, next to the major freight routes heading for Port Augusta and Mildura, is the representative of the Penske organisation in SA. The forecourt displays the Western Stars and MANs the company sells.


The workshop is currently going through a transition as previous Workshop Manager, Kieren O’Brien, hands over the role to his successor, Jason Soteriou. Kieren is taking a more strategic role in the business, while Jason sees to the day-to-day running of the workshop.


“There’s some bigger projects which fall under a dealer development role, which I am trying to focus on,” says Kieren. “In the past, if I got sidelined into a major project, workshop management suffered, which is not what we want.”


Some of the fleets using Wakefield Trucks’ services run trucks for 500,000km per year. They are hitting 1,000,000km by the end of the second year. These are often working on time-sensitive produce work and the customer demands good preventative servicing to change out components before they are likely to fail.


However, the nature of some of the tasks handled by trucks in SA – running at masses over 100 tonnes and at high average speeds on flat country – means the company has seen brakes on some of the truck it services running out to 800,000km.


A lot of the fleets Wakefield Trucks deals with on a week-in-week-out basis are at the smaller end. Adelaide is home to many small- to medium-sized fleets, but the bigger players tend to be based elsewhere, normally Melbourne. Another factor is the fact the dealership sells Western Star, a brand often favoured by the small fleet and owner-driver market.


This demographic has had an effect on the business. These smaller fleets are more price conscious and tend to run their trucks out for longer, requiring more major repair work on the main components. They are also more conservative buyers, relying on long-term personal relationships rather than aggressive business decisions.


Big Banger From MAN

Big Banger from MAN

For the first time, the Australian truck market has access to a big banger from MAN.The change which has made it possible for MAN to make this foray into the market comes from a  change of policy back in Germany. In the past, high horsepower MAN engines have been V8s and, as such, not viable here, due to excess mass over the steer axle. The decision to develop a 15 litre six cylinder has been crucial for potential sales here.

Big Banger From MAN

The new engine comes as a next step for the current engine line up. MAN came up with a completely new engine concept over ten years ago with the 10 litre D20. Later came the 13 litre D26 and now the 15 litre D38.

Rated at 560 hp (412 kW) in the horsepower stakes and with 2700 Nm (1991 ft lb) of torque, this engine has the capacity to handle the task with plenty to spare. The 12 speed Traxon transmission is the, well proven, ZF automated manual with an MAN control system overlaid. There is also an optional ZF Intarder available, offering up to 600 kW of retardation if needed.

Innovative design concepts are included in the design, like the top down cooling system, which introduces the coolant at the top of the engine, around the combustion chamber and injectors. This means , at its coolest, it meets the hottest part of the engine first.

The common rail fuel injection system runs at 2500 bar. The wiring loom on these trucks are encased in foam, inside the conduit, to eradicate chafing and rubbing between cables.

MAN are also adding to the plethora of new acronyms on a truck with the introduction of CRT on the D38. This stands for the Continuous Regeneration Trap, as opposed to a DPF. The continuous regeneration is said to give the system a longer working life.

Big Banger From MAN

“The design of this vehicle is as important as when we talk about the engine, says Roger Penske, Chairman Penske Automotive Group. “We talk about an automated manual transmission. We don’t buy a manual in the US now, for two reasons. One, from the driver perspective and, two for the residual value.

“The metrics we’ve seen and the feedback we’ve got on the vehicles has been quite positive. I think we have to be a better company, here in Australia, from a service perspective. We look around the country and see our service locations number being able to grow over the next eighteen months. Even though the market is down, we need more market share and we need to invest in our service locations.”

If the MAN brand is set to grow, this is the Penske group’s opportunity. Any growth will be from a low base, but the new model looks to be a good platform to build on. It ticks all of the boxes as truck and, if the promised increase in service locations eventuates, it should be able to perform. Penske’s purchase of the Detroit network gives it plenty of outlets and the possibility to exploit the strengths of this new player in the market.

Electric Trucks’ Potential as a Mainstream Alternative

Electric Trucks’ Potential as a Mainstream Alternative

What’s accelerating electric trucks’ potential as a mainstream alternative to a diesel-powered truck? Answer: batteries. After years of struggling to get the power density up and the cost and weight down, thanks to the latest generation of lithium ion batteries all-electric heavies are looking increasingly operationally viable, rather than simply technically possible, especially at the heavy end.

Electric Trucks’ Potential as a Mainstream Alternative

In Germany, Munich-based truck manufacturer, MAN, has been working on all-electric heavies. At the Hanover truck show it launched its City Truck concept prime mover, intended for inner-city night-time supermarket delivery work running at a combined gross weight of 18-tonnes. The battery-powered semi is based on an existing 4×2 TGS BLS-TS prime mover, but with its normal diesel drivetrain replaced by a 250 kW electric motor that delivers its 2700Nm of torque to the drive-axle via a conventional prop-shaft.

Electrical power is supplied by three 35.3 kW/h high-performance lithium-ion batteries fitted below the cab where a diesel engine would normally sit. With the weight of the batteries over the front-axle, MAN says the full load-capacity of the rear axle can be used for the payload. “The additional weight of the electric-drive components is compensated for by dispensing with the conventional diesel engine, with the result that the vehicle has the same payload as a similar, conventional semitrailer prime mover from the TGS model range.”

Electric Trucks’ Potential as a Mainstream Alternative

Depending on usage, the City Truck’s battery-capacity permits a daily range of 50-150 km. Although its batteries are normally charged overnight they can also be ‘opportunity charged’ during a vehicle run, like when the driver takes a break, or during loading/unloading, thereby providing greater operational flexibility.

The concept prime mover can also be fitted with up to four more 35.2 kW/h battery modules on the side of the frame and/or a range-extender power unit or fuel-cell, likewise chassis-mounted, further increasing its range. The power-steering pump, air compressor and air-con are all electrically-operated while a dash-board display advises the driver on battery charge, energy recovery and charging mode.

MAN says its all-electric TGS prime mover is intended to operate with an urban semi trailer equipped with a steering single-axle and that it, ‘Fulfils the main demands being placed on future delivery vehicles for city centre applications, namely they must have a high load volume and a low unladen weight, be emission-free (in terms of CO₂, NOx and noise) when on the move and at the same time have good manoeuvrability.’

When might we see a Lion-badged all-electric semi in series-production? MAN reckons, “The eTruck Study presented at the IAA will enable MAN to implement additional testing in the field of electrically-powered trucks and gain valuable experience with real transport concepts. It represents just one aspect of the eMobility strategy from MAN Truck & Bus and offers a glimpse of the city centre transport solutions due to be part of MAN’s product range as of 2021.”

Read Brian’s regular column,  EuroBureau, in the next edition of Diesel