While the European brands are known for a comfortable ride and relative technological supremacy over North American counterparts, many were underpowered and slow in comparison and in an era when horsepower was king, this largely prevented them from being accepted by many operators back in the day.
Further working against them in this respect was the fact that even if the European examples did have similar horsepower and torque ratings, the quieter cab environment and supple ride combined to give drivers the impression that they weren’t as powerful as the less refined American trucks. There was also a perception among operators that US trucks were more rugged and reliable, particularly for heavy haulage applications.
Tasmanian owner operator, Dave McCullagh, recently bought a Scania R730 after owning a number of North American steeds.
There could also be another factor at play here since this is Dave’s first foray into two-pedal automated driving which has the potential to reduce both physical and mental strain on truck drivers. For example, not having to push a heavy clutch pedal down several hundred times each day could be another reason for his better back.
Dave is quick to concur.
“This is the first automated shift truck I’ve owned and I initially thought I would struggle with it as I’ve always had 18-speed manuals,” says Dave. “But I love it, it just makes my life so much easier.
“We have two young children and when I get home all they want to do is play with Dad. Before I got this truck I’d get home and my back would be sore and I’d be tired, I just couldn’t be bothered. But now we’re outside or on the floor playing trains and cars, it’s made such a difference to my life. When I get home I actually feel like doing something because I’m not totally fatigued from being bounced about and roughed up all day.”
Averaging around 700 km each day, fitting in a service without losing valuable working time can be a bit tricky for an owner operator. Dave entrusts this vital work to C & I Transport Repairs at Launceston who he says have gone out of their way to work with him so the truck stays on the road every day.
“They’re really accommodating,” he says. “Obviously I can’t afford to take a day off to service the truck because I don’t have a spare truck. I generally knock off a bit earlier on Mondays so I can rock into C & I at about 3pm and they work back a bit later to get the job done.”
Vouching for the Scania’s reliability, Dave says to date he has had zero issues with it and all the workshop visits to date have been for scheduled servicing.
“When I had the Western Star at the same age as this one there were a few small niggly issues like a leaking sump gasket and other minor things but this one hasn’t put a foot wrong,” says Dave.
It’s this ultra-reliable operation that Dave is counting on to keep his business profitable for the next seven or so years. He reckons it’ll have over one million km clocked up when he changes it over and he expects the residual value will be quite good, such is the longevity potential of the big bore V8 engine in a relatively unstressed application like this.
“Paying them off is a big thing for us so the plan is to get it paid off in five years and then keep it for at least two more years without too many things going wrong. That way we can have a couple of years without truck payments and put the extra money away which helps lower the repayments on the next one.”
Going on Dave’s satisfaction with his current mount, we reckon it’s a fair bet ‘the next one’ will also bear the Scania badge.
“I can’t say I disagree with you,” he replies with a grin from ear to ear.