As we are so early in the process, with comprehensive Cascadia testing in Australia, Freightliner are unwilling to be tied down to the specifics of what will be offered to the Australian truck buyer in 2020. However, there are some concrete factors which the company is willing to divulge.
The first test truck is the Cascadia 116, fitted with a DD13 engine and the DT12 AMT. The second truck is fitted with the DD16 engine and the DT12 transmission. This is the first time a left hand truck has been run on the road as part of a testing program in Australia.
The engines on offer will be the Detroit DD13 and DD16. Top power on the 16 litre is going to be over 600 hp, but how far over is yet to be decided. These engine choices match those available in the heavy end of the Mercedes Benz range, which uses the 13 and 16 litre Mercedes engines based on the same engine blocks.
The Detroit DT 12 is the North American version. of the AMT used in the Benz models sold here. This will be supplemented by an Eaton option both in the form of the 13 and 18 speed Roadranger, but also the Ultrashift Plus AMT.
“There will be an Eaton option,” states Stephen Downes, , Freightliner Australia Director firmly. “There’s still some work to be done on GCM ratings. The Detroit DT12 will get us a fair way to where we want to be, but if we want to go heavier, we will have to look at alternatives. We’ve got to make sure that what we put in, rear axles, engines, gearboxes, cabs, the whole gamut, is unconditionally ready to go.
“We think we can sell the DT12 along with this truck on the basis of fuel economy and suitability for the driver pool. When you get a chance to drive it, you will see that it is seamless.”
In the US, 93 per cent of Cascadias sold are fitted with the Detroit AMT. The safety systems offered in the US market, as Detroit Assurance, bring all of the global Daimler safety systems, and these are expected to also be on offer here in Australia. This will clearly differentiate the models from the current offering from Freightliner and align with what is on offer in the Mercedes Benz from Daimler in Australia.
Freightliner are spending more than ever before on developing a truck for a non-US market. The company clearly see the Australian market as one which it can grow market share. By bringing the Cascadia platform into Australia the future should see a quicker transfer of all technologies from the US into trucks being sold in North America.
“We have seen, in the past, trucks brought into Australia, which weren’t fit for purpose,” says Stephen. “I vow not to make that mistake. There can be no doubt this truck will be ready when we launch it to market. That’s why we are doing all of this testing. We are going to the Nth degree to deliver to ensure we get it right the first time.
“There’s a massive amount of opportunity for Freightliner with this truck. an opportunity to make sure we, very clearly, get it right, we know what the truck operators expect, and by the end of this program we will have delivered the best bonneted truck to the Australian market, that it has ever seen. That might sound a bit confident, but once you get to drive it, it won’t take much to convince you.”