Moving with the times while keeping its traditional enthusiasts has created a Kenworth balancing act, where it retains a pragmatic quality. The brochure for the new trucks from Kenworth, the T610 and T610 SAR are headlined, ‘Our Best Truck Yet’ in its brochures. Of course, this can be dismissed as just a load of hype from the marketing department, but it is not like the Paccar organisation to go over the top on these occasions.
Kenworth does have a lot to crow about, it is the dominant player in the Australian heavy duty market, and has been for some time. It is also coming under pressure from a couple of directions, the European cabover trucks are making inroads into heavy duty prime mover market and the older designs for conventional trucks are getting into dimensional strife in some applications.
Often in Diesel News we talk about the debate between cabover and conventional and European vs US, but there are a large number of issues making truck buying choices trickier each year.
However, the first question anyone considering these new trucks asks may not be about the exact dimensions, ratings and design. They are more likely to be more about whether these new trucks really do look and feel like a Kenworth, and carry on the long tradition so proudly developed by the Bayswater-based truck maker.
Yes, they understand the compromises which have to be made by a boutique, in global terms, truck manufacturer. The days of individual trucks hand crafted for each individual have passed, now it’s all about streamlined tailored production of a truck capable of doing the job in the harsh Australian trucking environment.
It is here where Kenworth has to do a tricky balancing act. The truck has to meet a number of conflicting expectations. There has always been a kind of ruggedness to a big KW, but the driver always notices the quality of the finish. The door closes precisely every time for ten years, cables don’t rub when running on farm tracks and those annoying little rattles in the cab are rare. This is the perception the company has been building up throughout its history.
This brings us back to the question. Does it look and feel like a ‘proper’ Kenworth? The answer is, of course, yes. The compromises made in the design to bring the conventional Kenworth up to 21st century standard do not compromise those little cues which tell the driver they are in a KW.