One of the major selling points for the Cascadia in the US has been its frugal fuel consumption, something which Freightliner hope to emulate in Australia. Its slippery streamlined shape is one of the factors, but this is complemented by the matching of the Detroit engine and AMT with a sophisticated electronic architecture, designed to wring out the maximum kilometres from each litre of fuel.
“Fuel efficiency is also very important, when looking at costs,” says Stephen Downes, Freightliner Australia Director. “The hunt for fuel efficiency is magnitudes greater in North America than it is here. We are doing our best to catch up, so we want the most fuel efficient offering. The Detroit engine in America is getting the penetration it does, because it is the fuel efficiency leader.
“There’s been a shift in the market. People are looking to save every cent they can. If you can get one or two per cent better fuel economy and you have 150 trucks, do the sums and it adds up to some significant coin. It has become the norm now, you have to provide a truck with optimum fuel efficiency.
“The Cascadia is slippery, you only have to look at it. It doesn’t have a lot of stuff hanging off it and they have designed it that way for a reason. To the point some of the aerodynamic option which exist will not be specced to Australia, because they won’t last if you hit a kangaroo.”
Fitting Cascadia into the Australian market
The Cascadia is going to be something of an anomaly in the truck market. Traditionally, the industry has bought European trucks for modern styling and sophisticated technology or North America iron for a durable basic truck which can be customised to suit and looks good on the highway. If you wanted the latest technology, it was always European. If you wanted a truck to attract drivers and also include some new technology alongside a durable chassis and driveline, then US was the go.
This situation has changed considerably in recent years and the paradigm has shifted. North American drivelines are getting closer and closer to the European way of doing things. Within the Volvo, Paccar and Daimler organisations European designed technology has migrated across into the trucks coming out of the North American manufacturing plants.
Both Daimler and Volvo have integrated their global technology across product in North America, Japan and Europe. Each is tailored to the particular market, but comes from the the identical base technology, like engine block, transmission etc.
This integration was the reason for the development of the Cascadia for the US market in the first place. Daimler had spent a lot of money on its Heavy Duty Engine Program and the result, the Detroit DD13, DD15 and DD16 was to be the heavy duty engine in all of the Daimler brands. The new Cascadia was not only designed to suit the new engines, but also the much more global electronic architecture Daimler was introducing across the brands.
“Our global strategy has changed so now there are four or five key markets where we want to be undisputed leaders, as Daimler Trucks within those markets,” says Richard Howard VP Sales and Marketing for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA). “That means making the product investment necessary to drive through to the leadership position. Australia is absolutely central to the Daimler strategy.”