New MAN range Euro VI

Europe’s new Euro VI MAN range

New MAN range Euro VIDespite the slump in the commercial vehicles business due to the introduction of Euro V in a key market Brazil, combined with the European sovereign debt crisis, the MAN Group has released a new range of construction vehicles with Euro VI engines to the European market for MAN’s entire range of products from TGL to TGS as well as TGX.

The MAN Group closed fiscal 2012 with an operating profit of just under €1 billion (AU $1.29790 billion) down from 4% on the prior record year, no doubt spurred on by a massive buy up before the new emissions standards took hold in Brazil.

MAN relies on an efficient concept comprising electronically regulated exhaust-gas recirculation (EGR) and exhaust-gas aftertreatment employing a CRT soot filter system and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to meet the Euro VI regulations.

The key technologies necessary for Euro VI – common-rail injection system, exhaust-gas recirculation, two-stage turbocharging with intercooling, diesel particulate filter and SCR system – have for years successfully been proving their suitability for practical operation in MAN vehicles. Cooled exhaust-gas recirculation has been standard on trucks since 2000, SCR technology since 2005.

The developers’ primary goal was to keep fuel consumption down to the recognised low levels of Euro V without loss of power or torque.
This means that MAN can continue to offer its customers efficient and reliable vehicles for daily operation.

By comparison with the Euro V standard, Euro VI requires a reduction of 80 percent in NOx emissions (from 2 g/kWh to 0.4 g/kWh) and a reduction of 66 percent in particulate mass (from 0.03 g/kWh to 0.01 g/kWh) with effect from 2014. This is why exhaust-gas aftertreatment consists of an oxidation catalytic converter in conjunction with a closed diesel particulate filter as well as SCR catalytic converters and associated sensors. MAN positions this entire system, known as SCRT (Selective Catalytic Reduction Technology), com-pactly on the right side of the vehicle behind the front mudguard in the exhaust silencer.

Euro VI engines with outputs of 220 hp (162 kW) up to the current maximum of 480 hp (353 kW) employ a combination of two-stage turbocharging with primary cooling and cooling and intercooling of the boost air. MAN consciously bases its strategy on two separate rugged and reliable turbochargers that share the job of increasing boost-air pressure instead of a single more complex turbocharger with variable turbine geometry. The result is a very high degree of efficiency with input power delivered fast across the whole engine-speed range and a longer service life for the system.

The maximum torque of MAN’s new Euro VI engines is available at low engine speeds across a wider speed range than Euro V engines. In the heavy-duty series, the 320-hp (235-kW) engine outputs a maximum torque of 1,600 Nm at an engine speed as low as 930 rpm and maintains it up to 1,400 rpm. The same applies to the 360-hp (265-kW) engine with 1,800 Nm, the 400-hp (294-kW) engine with 1,900 Nm, the 440-hp (324-kW) engine with 2,100 Nm and the 480-hp (353-kW) engine with 2,300 Nm. The Euro VI vehicles can thus show their teeth off-road while being economical in on-road operation. These two aspects are demonstrated in a particularly impressive manner at 440 hp, which in Euro VI is now delivered by the engine with the largest capacity, 12.6 litres.

In formulating its regeneration strategy for the diesel particulate filter, MAN also paid special attention to maximum operational reliability. Regeneration in normal operation takes place independently and automatically. This enables almost all the particles that have been collected in the filter to be broken down while the vehicle is being driven. The particularly large surface of the ceramic filter elements enables long filter service lives. The oil-ash residue that collects in the diesel particulate filter after several hundred thousand kilometres is removed by replacing the filter element during servicing. The vehicle’s service interval calculator recommends the intervals between cleaning, taking into account the operating conditions and the continually monitored exhaust-gas backpressure.

MAN positions the Euro VI exhaust silencer on the right side of the vehicle. This means that the well-known ease of mounting bodies on MAN chassis is retained because, as in the past, no parts protrude above the top edge of the frame. As industry-specific equipment, at bauma 2013 MAN is presenting upswept exhaust pipes at the rear of the cab. This is important primarily for vehicles that run the power take-off while stationary as it considerably reduces the exposure of an operator next to or behind the vehicle to exhaust emissions. MAN stays light – the weight of the system increases by only around 150 kg for the MAN TGL with a four-cylinder engine and by around 200 kg for TGL and TGM vehicles equipped with six-cylinder engines. The Euro VI exhaust-gas cleaning components similarly add only around 200 kg to the unladen weight of the TGS and TGX.

New Canter Eco-Hybrid launched in Sydney today

New Eco-Hybrid Canter launched today.

Fuso has introduced the second generation Canter Eco-Hybrid to the Australian market earlier today at a function in Sydney.

Fuso has been manufacturing hybrid trucks since 2006 and selling them in Australia since 2009.

“Our customers’ experiences over a long period of time have clearly demonstrated that our 1st generation hybrid technology was capable of constantly saving significant amounts of fuel in both city and suburban applications, not only in Australia, but internationally as well.  Tests conducted with Star Track Express resulted in the Eco-Hybrid saving an average in excess of 30% compared to their diesel only Canters” said Richard Eyre, General Manager for Fuso Trucks & Buses in Australia.

With more than one thousand Fuso Canter Eco-Hybrid trucks driving the world daily, Fuso has been able to accumulate vast quantities of invaluable data from more than five years of field experience. This data has been instrumental in the development and design of this new model.

While the first generation hybrid proved that the technology worked and demonstrated significant fuel savings, the second generation Canter Eco-Hybrid has been designed not only to offer customers a truck with superior environmentally friendly credentials, but also a more affordable and financially sound transport solution – which is achieved through its fuel saving performance and more attractive purchase price.

In short… the new Fuso Canter Eco-Hybrid is not just a truck that appeals to a niche group of environmentally conscious customers.  Rather, it is a practical solution that has been developed for the mass market, appealing to a much wider range of trucks customers because it’s not only cleaner than a diesel only truck, but its return on investment makes economic business sense!

The new 2nd generation Canter Eco-Hybrid is based on the same parallel hybrid system used in the 1st generation Canter Eco-Hybrid which incorporates a diesel engine and an electric motor.

Depending on the driving needs, the system can actively switch between either power source, or use them both together, to ensure optimal performance.

Fuso said many of the core components have been greatly improved over those used in the 1st Generation Eco-Hybrid and many of them can already be found in Fuso’s Euro5 diesel only Canter range.

The 4P10 3L engine was developed for its ability to reduce fuel consumption in order to reduce operating costs and minimise its impact on the environment.

Fuso say fuel economy is so good that it already met the 2015 Japanese fuel economy standard when it was first introduced into the Canter range in 2010.

“This engine not only meets Euro 5 emission requirements… it exceeds it and surpasses the rating requirements for Enhanced Environmentally Friendly Vehicles (EEV) classification,” say Fuso.

The introduction of the more powerful and cleaner 4P10 EEV compliant diesel engine and a more powerful electric motor results in a more pleasurable driving experience and there is no longer a power disadvantage between the Eco-Hybrid and its equivalent diesel only model Canter (110kW vs. 96kW and 40kW vs. 35kW used in 1st generation Eco-Hybrid).

The smooth DUONIC dual clutch AMT also features in the new Canter.

The location of the clutch pack between the diesel engine and electric motor is critical in the Eco-Hybrids design.

It allows the clutch to regulate and control the hybrid system by engaging and disengaging the diesel engine and/or electric motor depending on whether they are required or not.

Together with the high performance, long lasting lithium-ion battery, this allows the Canter Eco-Hybrid to take off using the electric motor only.

An Idle Stop/Start system (ISS) allows the driver to turn the diesel engine off and on at traffic lights.  When switched on, ISS is automatic and triggered by the brake pedal.  The engine switches itself off when the driver places their foot on the brake pedal and the truck comes to a complete stop and it restarts as soon as they lift their foot off the brake pedal in preparation to take off.  The ISS system allows for even further fuel consumption savings and reduced emissions.

The hybrid system has improved in several significant ways. The Electric motor now develops / generates more power. Peak power has increased to 40 kW from 35 kW and peak torque is available from 0 rpm to 2000rpm, an increase of over 400 rpm in range. These upgrades allow the motor to capture and re-use more braking energy.  The motor is now oil cooled rather than water cooled.

The battery retains its lithium ion type but has significantly improved internals.  The new battery also includes a “G” sensor to detect a crash and cut battery power.

The new Hybrid also comes with Canters 30,000km service intervals. The Lithium Ion battery and whole hybrid system is guaranteed for 10 years, meaning there is no additional costs or maintenance to the business to consider.

The Fuso Eco-Hybrid is designed to deliver its best results in stop/start traffic conditions and low to medium speed applications.

Isuzu proves itself in the rugged mining sector

Isuzu trucks working under ground in mining.

Peak Gold Mines in Cobar, New South Wales, is using Isuzu trucks underground to move men and equipment.

As part of its fleet, the mine runs seven Isuzu trucks; four of which are used underground transporting men, equipment and explosives to service the copper and gold mine’s 24-hour-a-day operation.

Located approximately 700 kilometres north-west of Sydney, Cobar is a famous old mining town.

Found just a short eight kilometre drive south from the town centre, Peak Gold Mines employs 340 staff on site and has a seven year mine life, up to 2018.

To keep its around-the-clock schedule, Peak Gold Mines relies on a range of reliable equipment, including modern development jumbo boom drills, load-haul-dump loaders, and a total of 55 trucks and utility support vehicles.

According to Mobile Maintenance Planner, Ben Trudgett, the Isuzus easily cope with the rock road bases and 1:6 gradient in the decline mine.

Mr Trudgett said two of the company’s Isuzu trucks were registered, with the remaining five unregistered.

“Our Isuzu NLS 200 crew cab is used underground by the Mobile Maintenance Team. It also transports the team to other workshops,” he said.

“We also have four FTS 750 Isuzu trucks, which are used as stores trucks. One of these is a registered truck and is used for town store runs. The other three are unregistered and are mainly used underground.

“Our fleet also includes two FTS 800 4x4s – one is a fuel truck and the other an explosives truck.”

Mr Trudgett said both the FTS 800 4×4 fuel truck and explosives truck required some extra body work to fit the mine’s application.

“The fuel truck has a double skin road transport fuel body, which is capable of carrying 7,000 litres. This body was purpose built for safety and practicality,” he said.

“The explosives truck has a reinforced headboard for additional safety of operators.

“All of the other Isuzu trucks are as built and simply have tray bodies.”

As the Peak Gold Mines operate constantly, the trucks are used on a daily basis.

“The registered stores truck does two runs into town Monday to Friday. The other registered truck is utilised 24/7 to transport logistics in the underground workings,” Mr Trudgett said.

“The explosives truck is also used every day by the charge-up crews.”

According to Mr Trudgett, not everybody can take the trucks underground.

“Any operator who is ‘ticketed’ to operate the trucks can drive them. We have our own in house trainers who train and accredit each operator who is competent to operate the machines in the mine,” he said.

“Apart from the registered stores truck, all other Isuzu trucks go into the mine. The conditions are harsh, the roads are rock base with a 1:6 decline. However the Isuzu trucks have no issues with the conditions – they do everything that we ask of them, and sometimes more.”

Mr Trudgett said he believes the most favourable features of the Isuzu trucks are their reliability and operator comfort.

“The Isuzus offer more than enough power. They have no trouble driving up steep declines at about 20km/h when they are loaded,” he said.

“We chose to purchase Isuzu trucks because they offer a fleet of standard service trucks that meet our specification and the product’s reliability is fantastic. We also can’t go past the back-up parts and service from the Isuzu Dealership, Tracserv in Dubbo – we have had very good experiences with them.”

Peak Gold Mines replaces trucks on an as-needs basis, based on their condition, age and life hours.

“We select the best truck that suits the application required. We purchased one of our underground stores trucks in 2000 and the other two in 2008; we purchased our above ground stores truck in 2005. The explosives truck, fuel truck and NLS 200 crew cab were all added to our fleet in 2011,” Mr Trudgett said.

“We would definitely consider purchasing more Isuzu trucks when we require replacement vehicles. We have a good relationship with Tracserv and the trucks’ reliability and performance in the mine are unsurpassed.”

Two mining fields are run from the Peak Gold Mines site, one hosting a processing plant and administration buildings.

Peak Gold Mines is operated by Peak Gold Mines Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of Canadian company, New Gold Incorporated. It commenced production in 1992.


Growing business chooses Isuzu FVY 1400 6×4 curtainsiders

StrathAyr is growing its growing business with Isuzu

StrathAyr Pty Ltd is a developer of natural turf technology providing a variety of turf options, ready grown lawn, for residential and commercial use.

Starting in Tasmania in 1969 it derived its name from the original turf farm in Tasmania where the family business began.

The company expanded to Victoria in 1972 and  today has a staff of over 30 operating two turf farms, one each in Victoria and Tasmania. The farms produce high quality turf such as the popular Sir Walter Buffalo Lawn, Legend Couch and Village Green Kikuyu.

As well as delivering turf to customers, StrathAyr provides a lawn installation service conducted by a team of experienced installers, and offers a wide range of lawn care products including lawn fertilisers and pest and weed control.

StrathAyr’s Victorian farm turf deliveries are handled by two Isuzu FVY 1400 6×4 curtainsiders. Victorian Farm Manager, Nick Behm, said the Isuzu trucks were just the right size for delivering turf to residential homes, race tracks, landscapers and sports fields.

“The trucks’ 24,000 kg GVM rating is great for our heavy loads of turf and installation equipment,” he said. “On top of that, we’re more than happy with the build quality, the cab comfort and safety features while the inbuilt multimedia unit with NAVTEQ satellite navigation is particularly handy.” The curtainsider bodies include provision for a detachable forklift for the easy loading and unloading of the turf pallets. Nick choosing the Isuzu said it came down to functionality and value for money.
“We were looking for a truck model that could handle heavy loads and would still be easy to drive despite its size,” he said.

“According to the drivers, operating the trucks is no more stressful than driving a car. The turning circle is surprisingly good for a medium duty truck which makes parking in tight residential streets effortless.”

The company also has a separate business division called StrathAyr Turf Systems, which specialises in providing all types of natural turf solutions such as removable natural turf systems for stadiums and racetracks, natural turf drop-in portable cricket wickets, as well as natural turf replacement products. The major projects conducted by StrathAyr Turf Systems include the long-awaited redevelopment of Punt Road Oval currently underway in Melbourne, Victoria – the home of the AFL Richmond Tigers.

In 1990, StrathAyr expanded its markets beyond Australia’s coastline, when BAyr Root (soil free) Turf was air freighted from Australia to Hong Kong for the resurfacing of the Sha Tin Racetrack. Since then, the international business has continued to grow with StrathAyr Turf Systems installed at sporting venues in the USA, Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

The company continues to grow!

24 years on top for Isuzu

Isuzu Trucks has extended its reign atop the Australian truck market sales charts achieving its 24th consecutive year of total market leadership following strong 2012 sales results.

According to official T-mark industry reports, Isuzu finished the year with a total of 7,190 truck sales, surpassing last year’s sales of 6,617 units.

This result provided the brand with 23.4 per cent market share, almost 10 per cent clear of its closest rival, who trailed with 13.7 per cent for a total of 4,216 units.

As well as taking out overall sales honours, Isuzu continued to dominate the light market with 37.3 per cent share for a total of 3,367 units while extending its medium market leadership with 42.9 per cent share and 2,883 units.

In the heavy market, Isuzu finished a creditable fifth with 8.3 per cent share, a standing that is expected to improve this year following the recent introduction of its

Isuzu extends market leadership to 24 consecutive years

heavy duty FY Series 8×4 range.

Isuzu Australia Limited (IAL) Director and Chief Operating Officer, Phil Taylor, said Isuzu trucks remained a popular choice for new and existing truck buyers across the country.

“We’d like to thank our loyal truck customers for their continued support in helping us achieve these excellent sales results,” Mr Taylor said.

“The customer is at the forefront of everything we do and we focus on providing them with a truck line-up and associated support services that will closely meet their requirements, whether they are a small retail customer right through to a large corporate fleet.”

Mr Taylor said he expected truck sales to further improve in the next 12 months in line with the economy.

“The total truck market should again experience modest improvements in 2013,” he said.

“The heavy duty market was strong in 2012 and will likely continue in that manner this year – with our new heavy duty FY Series 8×4 range, we are confident of taking advantage of this in 2013.”

Heavy Duty truck sales rebound with 21.5% gain in 2012

A surprise rebound of the Heavy Duty segment, which finished the year with a tally of 11,378 units, or 21.5% above the 2011 result has helped the total truck market reach a 10.4% rise over 2011 sales.

The Truck Industry Council’s T-Mark truck sales figures show a total of 30,745 units were sold last year.

TIC said while any double-­digit growth in the current uncertain economic times is positive, it is worth remembering that 2011’s result was negatively affected by supply issues following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Japanese sourced vehicles still comprise about half of the Australian truck market total, so a gain over 2011 was to be expected,” said Simon Humphries, TIC Chief Technical Officer.

Results from VFACTS, released concurrently with the T-Mark data, show that Australian light vehicle sales have reached a new all time record in 2012, posting in excess of 1.1 million units. However, the high mark for truck sales remains the pre-GFC 2007 market of 38,131 units, or still 24% higher than the 2012 figure.

“The 2012 December figures alone the total truck market of 2,720 units was 8.6% higher than the same month in 2011. By comparison with December sales from recent years, 2012’s was better than those recorded for 2009 to 2011 inclusive, but still 22.5% lower than the best ever December sales recorded in 2007 of 3,509 units,” he said.

Turning to the overall results for the 2012 fourth quarter, T-Mark showed 8,533 truck sales, or 16% higher than the comparable October to December 2011 result of 7,362 units.  The second half of 2012 was 12.7% better than the same period in 2011, indicating that sales have accelerated slightly towards the end of the year, even more than usual seasonal adjustments.

Market Segments:

The full year truck sales result ended up 10.4% higher than 2011, with all segments posting increases, yet as previously mentioned the stand-out performer was the Heavy Duty segment.

The Light Duty Truck Segment for December was 17.7% higher than December 2011, and for the fourth quarter it recorded a 17.6% increase compared with the same period in 2011. This last quarter rebound in the segment saw an earlier deficit turn into a 2.2% gain for the full year, for a final tally of 9,022 units.

The Medium Duty Truck Segment posted a 10.8% decline compared with December 2011, reversing a positive trend in the previous few months. Nevertheless, the growth in this segment across the fourth quarter still represents an increase of 5%. The full year tally for Medium Duty of 6,725 units is 7.2% higher than for 2011, reversing a string of four years of decline, however not keeping up with the total market growth. The slow decline in Medium Duty representation shows it is now just 21.9% of the total truck market, compared with around 26% in 2007 and 2008.

The Heavy Duty Truck Segment has reported a second half to 2012 that is surprising,  especially since the same period in 2011 saw good growth compared with 2010. The December 2012 tally of 1,045 units is 10.6% higher than December 2011, and also exceeded the 2008 December result. The fourth quarter result was 17% higher than for 2011. An encouraging level of growth in this segment, which seems to reflect the return to the HD truck market by some fleets which may have deferred purchases in recent years, as well as continuing demand from the mining sector. Thanks to good growth in the second half, the full year 2012 total of 11,378 units was 21.5% higher than in 2011. The 2012 HD segment second half of the year actually exceeded the 2008 result (and all others since), but was still more than 16% below the second half of the 2007 record year.

The Light Duty Van Segment posted a strong gain in December 2012, with 303 units sold being 24.2% higher than the same month in 2011. Overall fourth quarter sales are a significant 32% higher than for 4th quarter 2011. The recent strong gains allowed a slower start for the year to be overcome, and ending with a tally of 3,389 units for a 6.8% growth vs 2011.

An initial TIC forecast for the 2013 total truck market is around a 5% increase on the 2012 result.


Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor

TIC warns freight task needs government support

Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor
Truck Industry Council president Phil Taylor predicts 40,000 units a year will be sold in Australia.

TIC president Phil Taylor was encouraged by the positive numbers evident in 2012’s truck sales however he said the government will need to give operators incentives to buy new trucks to meet the forcast freight task otherwise freight companies will be forced to keep their older trucks just to have enough vehicles on the road.

Taylor said the 2012 truck sales increase over 2011 exceeded most expectations expressed at the beginning of the year.

“Frankly, the overall growth of the Heavy Duty segment relative to the others is quite surprising, and is good for the industry, especially for the local truck manufacturers, all of which compete mainly in the HD segment,” he said.

“While part of the gains can be explained by the return of some fleets to purchasing new capital, and easing of restrictions and interest rates in the financial sector, the resources boom appears to be keeping sales quite strong in the North and West.

“Meanwhile, it is difficult to predict what truck sales will do in 2013. Most analysts predict another interest rate cut or two from the Reserve bank, which should allow finance for new capital equipment to remain very competitive. However, other forecasts for the retail, housing and a probable slowing in the resources sector’s growth could have a possible adverse effect on truck sales.”

He warned we must be aware, however, that for the road transport sector to manage the government’s forecast road freight task in the coming years, further growth in truck sales is necessary, firstly recovering to 2007 levels within the next couple of years, and beyond.

“To stimulate the market to these levels may require the introduction of suitable government incentives to buy new trucks, with their vastly improved productivity, safety and environmental performance,” he said.

“Otherwise, freight companies will be forced to keep their older trucks just to have enough vehicles on the road, and that presents Australia with a significant fleet average age problem which results in a poor environmental and safety outcome. I’m not saying we can expect to see it all happen in 2013, however TIC projections anticipate that truck sales need to increase to well beyond 40,000 units per annum within just a few years, just to keep up with demand for moving goods, ” Taylor said.

An initial TIC forecast for the 2013 total truck market is around a 5% increase on the 2012 result.


Arocs Mercedes-Benz new construction range

Mercedes-Benz Trucks are delivering a new breed of vehicles with a specialist construction work truck due for release in Europe in April 2013 on the heels of the new Actros for long-distance transport and the Antos for heavy-duty short-radius distribution released.

From 2013 all trucks and tractor units used for on and off-road applications in the construction sector will be known under the name Arocs.

The new range of dump trucks, all-wheel drive dump trucks, concrete agitators, tractor units and drop-side chassis vehicles are available as two, three and four-axle vehicles with 16 output variants from 175 kW (238 hp) to 460 kW (625 hp). From the outset, all the engines have been designed to meet the future Euro VI emissions standard and are available for order as a Euro VI version.

The BlueTec 6 engines are designed as in-line six-cylinder engines with exhaust-gas turbocharger and intercooler to provide great tractive power at little more than the engine’s idling speed. Maximum tractive power ranges from 1000 to 3000 Newton metres and will be achieved by the four engine sizes: 7.7, 10.7, 12.8 and 15.6 l; the latter variant is completely new and comes in the form of the new OM 473 engine.

The Arocs will also be setting an example with its drive system: the engine’s power will be transmitted by the Mercedes PowerShift 3 automated transmission, fitted as a standard. Drive programs are available which have been specifically developed for the vehicle’s varied range of applications.

The drive configurations offered for the Arocs range from the 4×2 two-axle version with rear-wheel drive to 8×8/4, a four-axle vehicle with all-wheel drive and two steering front axles. Four-axle versions with one front and three rear axles, a wide range of air-sprung vehicles, or a load-optimised concrete-mixer chassis with single-tyred drive tandem are examples of the wide variety of new Arocs versions now available straight off the production line.

The Arocs has seven cabs available in 14 different versions. As supplements to the compact 2.3 m cabs in L, M or S versions, the new Arocs can also be fitted with spacious 2.5 m variants with a level cab floor.

The unmistakeable design of the new Mercedes-Benz Arocs is as unusual as the complete truck. The specially designed styling of the construction truck family stands out because of its radiator grille with so-called bucket-teeth- look. It sends a clear message: the sturdy “teeth” stand for biting one’s way through and knuckling down to the job. Steel elements on the bumpers, a robust radiator guard and optically integrated construction-specific folding entry step harmonise form and function for the hard-work specialist.

New for the Arocs are the product groups Loader and Grounder. The Arocs Loader consistently makes the most of every possibility of reducing its own kerb weight. The result provides payload optimised 4×2 tractor units which are among the lightest vehicles in the construction sector in Europe as well as 8×4/4 concrete mixers with 32t maximum permissible weight. As these have a particularly low kerb weight of a maximum of 9250 kg, they are able to supply 8 m3 of ready-mixed concrete on every trip.

The Arocs Grounder is designed for operating under extremely difficult conditions. It is extremely stable and resilient and also has a great number of technical details to make sure that it is uncompromising and robust for the toughest jobs on the construction site.

The Arocs will celebrate its customer premiere at the Bauma trade fair in Munich, Germany in April 2013.

How ‘Lo’ can you go?


'Wanted': Never mind a leather interior, this beast has hide on the outside.

Western Star is set to display a stunningly customised 4900EX Lo Max aptly named ‘Wanted’ at this year’s International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show (ITTES). The show will be held on three days from March 15 to 17 at the Melbourne showgrounds at Ascot Vale.

‘Wanted’ was created by a team of custom design specialists in the US for last year’s Mid America truck show using the ‘Wild West’ theme for inspiration.

Seemingly no amount of customisation was deemed too outlandish. For instance, never mind a leather interior, this beast has the hide on the outside with fishnet-finish leather wrapped fuel tanks masquerading as saddle bags, complete with buckles and straps, along with studded leather-clad side steps, toolboxes and 22-inch deep front bumper. Taking pride of place in the bumper’s centre is a massive cog shaped ‘belt buckle’ featuring the Western Star logo.

Highlighting the immaculate custom paint job are intricate scrollwork designs etched into polished metal components including wheel rims, air cleaner cans, muffler heat shields, roof-mounted air deflector sides and rear mudguard embellishment strips.

Completing the exterior picture is a matching pair of unique ‘double-barrel’ exhaust stacks, pointing skyward as though poised to fire a volley of warning shots.  

The ‘Wanted’ truck’s cab interior, which has not been altered from factory specs, showcases Western Star’s new interior  featuring all-new timber cabinets and table, as well as ‘prairie tan’ coloured upholstery, dashboard and door trims.

Typically, Western Star’s show trucks are pre-purchased by a dealer or customer, who takes possession after the truck has been on show. However, due to its immense popularity, Western Star has held onto ‘Wanted’ longer than usual to allow show-goers across the globe the opportunity to see this sensational Star in the flesh.

The company stresses that ‘Wanted’ was built expressly as a show truck and the Lo Max model is not available in Australia.


Mack Trident Shines as B-Double Hauler

Keen to take Mack’s latest pooch on the prowl, PAUL MATTHEI recently slid behind the wheel of a Trident hauling a B-double for a run from Melbourne to Newcastle. Fitted with Mack’s flagship 535 hp MP8 engine coupled to the new mDrive automated shifter, high expectations were met with equally high results.

Bow WOW!

It’d been a few years since I’d driven a Mack on an interstate run. In fact, the last time was back in early 2005 between Adelaide and Sydney, steering a Super-Liner LT with a 550 hp Cat stirring through an Eaton AutoShift box.

Of course, much has changed since then. For starters, Mack’s much vaunted ‘New Breed’ of pups was born in Australia in late ’07, and following a few tough teething issues has matured into what is widely considered to be the finest and most comprehensive  collection of new bulldogs in the company’s long and proud history.

Furthermore, there’s no longer the option of having a hairy-chested Cat engine prowling beneath a bulldog snout, while Eaton’s underwhelming AutoShift has been largely superseded by the slicker, smoother, smarter UltraShift two-pedal automated transmission.

So while comparing the Super-Liner LT I’d driven back in ‘05 with the new Trident might seem akin to lining up chalk against cheese, there is at least one similarity that bears comparison.

That is, peak power and torque figures delivered by the latest iteration of Mack’s 12.8 litre MP8 engine with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) emissions control are within a bulldog’s bark of those produced by Cat’s C15. And remember, back in 2005 the C15 hadn’t yet been lumbered with the complicated and costly ACERT (Advanced Combustion Emissions Reduction Technology) emissions control system.

For the record, the Cat C15 produced 550 hp compared to the latest Mack’s 535 hp. In the torque department, however, the tables are turned with Mack pipping Cat at the post, notching 1920 lb ft compared to the yellow engine’s 1850 lb ft, both produced at a low 1200 rpm. The salient point about this comparison is that until its withdrawal from the on-highway truck engine business, Caterpillar was a leading powerbroker in the heavy-duty B-double business in a mix of Kenworth, Freightliner and Western Star chassis.

And herein, with its own engine now delivering such ample outputs, rests the reason why Mack can finally lay claim to having a serious contender for the hotly contested linehaul B-double market. Put simply, B-double operators generally want engines producing more than 500 hp and at least 1850 lb ft of torque, and the top rated version of Mack’s MP8 SCR engine now ticks both boxes with bold, thick ink.

It’s no secret, of course, that the MP8 engine is a canine clone of Volvo’s (Mack’s parent company) 12.8 litre D13C engine introduced some years back to provide the Swedish manufacturer with a powerplant to comfortably compete in the B-double arena. Before that, Volvo had used a complex turbo-compound system to coax 500 hp from an aging 12 litre six which was never designed to achieve such a high output. Ensuing durability issues provided resounding proof that a larger displacement engine was needed for B-double roles and the D13C with SCR emissions control has since acquitted itself remarkably well with ratings of up to 540 hp.

However, it was Mack’s insistence to remain with EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) emissions controls that precluded the MP8 from ratings above 500 hp – the main reason being the extra cooling capacity required for EGR engines. But with the introduction of ADR 80/03 emissions standards earlier this year, most manufacturers including Mack proceeded to offer SCR simply because it is now the most efficient method of mitigating harmful oxides of nitrogen (NOx) to the prescribed level.

Interestingly, it was possibly Mack’s proud American heritage that drove the company’s decision to stay with EGR – traditionally favoured by US operators – during the reign of the previous ADR 80/02 emissions regulation rather than convert to SCR. It seems the general consensus at the time was that US (and Australian) operators would be none too happy about having to regularly top up an AdBlue (liquid urea) tank as a necessary part of SCR operation. However, this assumption has proved something of a furphy on both continents as in most cases it appears drivers have taken to the new task without much fuss at all.

Indeed, our US correspondent Steve Sturgess who writes DIESEL’s State of the Union column has focussed on this issue a number of times of late with one of his most recent reports concluding that American operators are not finding SCR the terrible technology it has been regularly painted.

Anyway, back on Mack: Thanks to its Volvo parentage, switching to SCR was not particularly difficult and with its MP8 engine now punching out much the same performance standards as its Swedish counterpart, Mack is finally able to have a serious shot at the B-double business. What’s more, it can do it with its own fully automated 12-speed transmission called mDrive which, of course, is a suitably ‘Mackanised’ version of Volvo’s stunningly smooth I-shift box.

Bringing mDrive to market has been an extremely long-winded exercise and many wonder why it needed to take so long when the need, in fact, was so great. Whatever, it’s now here and best of all, it was worth the wait.

Taming the tiger

It was a blustery Melbourne morning as the cavalcade of new Macks was readied for the next leg of its Australian tour, moving from CMV’s Laverton (Vic) dealership to the NSW industrial hub of Newcastle.

As a Volvo, Mack and UD dealership, CMV is well versed in the supply of AdBlue (liquid urea) for SCR engines and even has a mini-tanker to dispense the product. Thus, filling the 200 litre AdBlue tank of a Mack Trident took just a few minutes, which sure beats trying to slosh it in using 10 or 20 litre containers!

While the Trident was the prime focus for this report, my first drive was a Granite day cab prime mover pulling a drop-deck semi with a Granite rigid tipper sitting on the deck.  Designed for urban distribution roles and with a gross combination rating of 45 tonnes, the Granite prime mover had the MP8 engine rated at 435 hp with 1655 lb ft of torque, coupled to an mDrive automated transmission and driving into a Meritor RT40-145 tandem running a 3.42:1 axle ratio.

Riding on a wheelbase of 4460 mm and with its steer axle set back 1297 mm from the bumper face, this Granite boasted a remarkably tight turning circle of 15.9 metres. It also sported a bumper to back of cab (BBC) measurement of 2960 mm and an overall length of 7272 mm, while fuel and liquid urea tank capacities were 700 and 125 litres respectively.

Apart from the mDrive experience, probably the most pleasing aspect of this drive was that it demonstrated just how well Mack engineers have tuned the MP8 engine to differentiate it from its Volvo counterpart. Quite simply, if I hadn’t known any different, I would not have suspected there was anything other than a traditional Mack six humming away under the hood.

Perhaps it’s due to a slightly freer exhaust system, but throughout the drive there was the distinct impression of a decidedly deeper engine note than what comes from a Volvo engine, which I believe is exactly what most Mack drivers would want to hear. And that’s not to say it was noisy; on the contrary these new bulldogs are quieter than their forebears by a country mile. No, it’s simply a familiar nuance that perhaps even subconsciously reinforces the fact that you’re driving a Mack.

And speaking of driving, although my stint in the Granite was short, it at least provided the opportunity to see how mDrive performed hauling away from traffic lights and such. Grossing just 25 tonnes or thereabouts, the unit certainly wasn’t working hard but the fact that the transmission software recognised this and would often skip one or sometimes two gears during upshifts was a solid recommendation for the intuitiveness of the system. I also noticed that it adapted quickly to a gentle driving style, keeping engine speed within the most fuel efficient band between 1200 and 1600 rpm.

Trident’s turn

Then it was time to park my butt in the comfortable sheep-skin covered driver’s chair of the Trident, hauling a loaded B-double set and grossing around 60 tonnes, well under the model’s 70 tonnes gross weight rating. My co-pilot for the trip was Mack driver-trainer Paul Munro and as we both scribbled in our logbooks, it struck me that there were three major departures from Mack tradition in this Trident and the Granite I’d just driven. First, of course, is the SCR emissions system while second and third are the absence of a clutch pedal and shift lever due to the mDrive automated transmission.

That’s right, there’s no shift lever at all, with gearbox functions controlled by large push buttons housed in a neat flush-fitting panel just to the left of the steering wheel, with a similarly large and easily read LED display at the top showing which gear is selected. Vitally, due to the wrap around cockpit style dash, this panel is well within fingertip reach of the driver and along with the normal selector functions, there’s another marked ‘PERF’ denoting a performance mode which allows revs to run higher on long climbs and provides better engine braking during descents.

Besides, not having a shift lever of any description beside the seat proved a boon when I decided it was time to test out the bunk for a few hours. Seriously, being able to swing both legs around the seat completely unimpeded is pure joy. And yes, the sack is extremely comfortable too!

Meanwhile, in the constricted confines of a roadhouse parking area it was similarly easy to appreciate the manoeuvrability afforded by a steer axle set back 1297 mm from the bumper which, combined with a 4885 mm wheelbase, provides a relatively compact turning circle of 17.2 metres.

At the other end, the Trident ran Meritor RT46-160 drive axles with a final drive ratio of 3.07:1, riding on Mack’s AP460 air suspension. Fuel and liquid urea capacities are 1400 and 200 litres respectively while the BBC dimension is 3775 mm with a 36 inch (914 mm) sleeper berth attached.

Pulling onto the highway, the Trident immediately flexed its considerable muscle and the 1920 lb ft of torque was put to good use as the mDrive box progressed through the gears as smoothly as any automated unit I’ve driven. Particularly impressive was the precise engine speed control that enabled crisp, fast shifts, keeping the turbo up to speed and minimising road speed drop off during each change.

Once up to the 100 km/h limit, at which the Trident’s tacho was indicating a relaxed 1500 rpm, Paul Munro proceeded to describe the cruise control operation and I soon discovered a very useful feature of the system. After setting the desired road speed and with the engine brake switched on, pressing another ‘set’ toggle switch allows the engine brake to activate when the vehicle speed exceeds the set speed by more than three km/h, such as on a downgrade. However, having the three km/h tolerance means slight variations in speed are allowed for without the annoyance of the engine brake coming on when it’s not needed. And on the subject of engine braking, Mack’s Powerleash unit is good for 315 kW (495 hp) of retardation at 2100 rpm.

After this, it was simply a matter of sitting back and enjoying the drive, with the Trident taking the task of hauling a 60 tonne B-double combination up the Hume well in its stride. For instance, on the first serious northbound climb near Glenrowan, it only dropped one gear and crested the rise at 65 km/h and 1300 rpm. Then further on at the steeper Aeroplane and Woomargama ascents it managed both in eighth gear, falling to 28 km/h and 1200 rpm on the former and 33 km/h and 1300 rpm on the latter.

The day progressed comfortably and smoothly, and with midnight approaching after skirting around Sydney and joining the F3 for the final leg to Newcastle, the Mack seemed to relish the cooler night air. Indeed, the truck romped up the Joll’s Bridge climb from the HawkesburyRiver, settling into 9th gear and holding 40 km/h at 1400 rpm on the sharpest pinch. Similarly, the run over Moonie Moonie saw the Mack cling tenaciously to 8th gear with the speedo steady at 30 km/h and the tacho registering 1250 rpm.

By any estimation it was a gutsy effort considering the all-up weight of 60 tonnes. However, in both cases the mDrive transmission wasn’t left entirely to its own devices. I found the best results were achieved by leaving it in auto but selecting performance mode at the commencement of a climb. This enabled single gear downshifts at about 1400 rpm rather than letting engine speed fall to 1200 rpm where the transmission would perform a skip downshift to compensate for the loss of road speed. Then once it had settled on the right gear for the pull, deactivating the performance mode allowed revs to drop to 1250 without a ratio change to make best use of the low down torque. This also allowed upshifts to occur sooner as the terrain levelled out which once again kept engine speed in the fuel efficient band between 1200 and 1600 rpm.

All up, the strategy seemed to work and arriving atNewcastle, a quick flick through the driver info system revealed the Trident had averaged a respectable 1.7 km/litre (4.8 mpg) on the trip fromMelbourne. What’s more, according to Paul Munro, the unit’s overall average consumption since the beginning of Mack’s cavalcade was 1.77 km/litre (5.0 mpg), achieved with a consistent 60 tonne gross weight and a wide variety of drivers.

At the end of the test, the overwhelming impression was that Mack has done a fine job of incorporating the necessary SCR technology and desirable mDrive automated transmission into its product line without compromising the traditional character of the brand.

This is perhaps best underscored by the conclusion that with this latest Trident, Mack finally has an entirely competent B-double prime mover propelled by a highly responsive six cylinder engine and automated transmission package.

Arguably the most pertinent point of all though is that none of this would have been possible for Mack without its Volvo parentage. For those who still yearn for the old days, it’s a point certainly worth thinking about.