It’s all about horses for courses for construction trucks according to Diesel News European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley. Following the arrival of Iveco’s latest X-Way construction range, he explains what’s behind the Northern Hemisphere’s increasingly segmented multi-wheeler market.
I’m all for demystifying things, but first let’s make one thing clear. European tippers and mixers can take a ‘battering’. It’s just that in recent years there’s been a growing segmentation within the multi-wheeler market reflecting the fact that not every six or eight-wheeler spends its life up to its diff-locks in muck and bullets.
If we’re talking about construction vehicles (typically your classic Pommie eight-legger) there are two distinct chassis classifications—‘N3’ and ‘N3G’—each with their own attributes. Put simply, the N3 chassis have a lower ground clearance and lower mounted cabs, usually due to the fitment of drop-beam front axles. They’re also required to have front under-run protection. Whilst not officially categorised for ‘off-road’ applications, on any working day you’ll still see plenty of N3 rigids toiling in the clag, though they’re more likely to be running on regular roads hauling asphalt, aggregates, animal feed or concrete.
N3G eight-leggers? They’re your classic ‘built like a brick outhouse’ motor, offering superior gradeability and higher ground clearance thanks to their straight-beam front-axles. Naturally, their cabs sit higher too, and as N3G chassis spend more of their time off-road, they’re exempted from front-under-run regs.
Not surprisingly, N3 chassis, having a less arduous ‘mission’ than their N3G counterparts, enjoy lower tare weights and higher payloads, not least as they usually come with lighter, single-reduction, rear-axles (N3Gs invariably have heavier hub reduction back bogies) plus more modest displacement – i.e. 9 to 11-litre –diesels.
Likewise, they don’t have the kind of ‘double-tough’ chassis and suspension found on an N3G. However, just to confuse things, on any working day, hundreds of N3G trucks still can be spotted trundling around British towns and cities. That’s because for initial site clearance or ‘muck-away’ work, an N3G tipper is the best tool for the job.
Yet lately there’s been growing acceptance amongst multi-wheeler operators that N3 chassis are more appropriate for regular urban running, especially as their lower mounted cabs give drivers a better chance of spotting cyclists and pedestrians around the classic front and nearside blind-spots.
The upshot of this ‘right chassis/right job’ philosophy is that Europe’s truck makers have adopted a ‘horses for courses’ approach to their construction models, selling dedicated on and off-road (N3 and N3G) chassis to suit all operations.
Now that Stralis X-Way has joined Trakker, the Italian truck-maker has a construction truck for just about every occasion and application. Just as well, considering how the multi-wheeler market up here is increasingly polarised. But whichever one you go for, they certainly look capable of taking a good old-fashioned Aussie ‘battering’.