Cat Trucks Australia managing director Bill Fulton maintains he is not only satisfied with Cat’s early performance but entirely confident of the brand’s future he said in his end-of-year presentation at Caterpillar’s facility in Tullamarine, Melbourne.
Diesel editor Steve Brooks brings you a snapshot of Cat Trucks Australia’s developments with the full story in the first Diesel Magazine for 2013.
Fulton conceded that while the start wasn’t particularly easy, the first chapter in Cat’s Australian evolution is effectively coming to a close as the last of the 550 or so trucks assembled in a rush at Tullamarine in the second half of 2010 is delivered to customers.
“We’ve just about run out of those 2010 trucks,” Fulton confirmed.
“We’ve been in business two years now and in that time we’ve been on a journey in the most competitive truck market in the world.
“Our intense focus now is to grow the business with incremental product introductions to provide the features and specifications that meet customers’ needs.”
The facility has changed from a congested and somewhat rudimentary assembly line where the original 500-plus Cat trucks were put together from kits by short-term contract labour, to a clean, efficient workspace where trucks arriving fully built-up from International’s Garland plant in Texas are tailored to customer requirements and Australian conditions.
Each truck is subjected to an extensive quality audit to ensure that critical fundamentals such as routing and clipping of all hoses and wiring are to Australian standards.
Likewise, the fitting of items such as aero kits, mudguards, exhaust configurations, tail lights, even radios and diff ratio changes are performed by employees at the Tullamarine facility.
“We also run a rapid prototype validation procedure for any new features on the trucks,” Fulton added.
Navistar’s recent announcement of the closing of the Garland plant means the Australian trucks will instead come from a plant in Springfield, Ohio, and there is no expected interruption to supply lines or quality standards in the switch from Texas to Ohio.
Questions have lingered over Cat’s replacement for the C13 ACERT engine in the CT610. The cat is out of the bag and the CT610 will get an engine labelled CT13, a 13 litre in-line six derived from Navistar’s MaxxForce engine line-up.
According to Cat Trucks product development manager Adrian Wright, it’s an engine with plenty of design positives, not least a block made of compacted iron which provides an immensely strong platform while weighing up to 222 kg less than a comparable engine based on gray iron.
With peak ratings of 475 hp and 1700 lb ft of torque, features of the CT13 include dual sequential Borg Warner turbochargers and a high pressure common-rail fuel system with injection pressures up to 2200 bar, or approximately 32,000 psi.
The CT13 is the first Cat engine to use a common-rail system.
The engine uses advanced fuel injection technology and a low-flow EGR system optimised to Australia’s ADR 80/03 emissions standard.
While the engine may be new to the Australian market, it’s not a new engine according to Wright who insists a huge amount of US testing precedes its local launch, along with a redesigned EGR cooler.
“This engine has one of the best cooling systems I’ve ever seen on a truck engine,” he said.
Perhaps even more significantly, “Like any Cat engine, it really hangs on.”