Out of the Horsepower Race

Over the years, DAF, has stayed out of the horsepower race, resolutely refusing to follow the crowd and turn up the wick on its biggest displacement, 13 litre, diesels, observes Diesel News’ European Correspondent, Brian Weatherley. However, before the recent launch of its new XF and CF models the press worked itself up into a right-old tizzy (again), convinced the cloggies were about to give their 12.9 litre six-pot a major boost in power, having previously limited it to 510hp and 2500Nm.


Out of the Horsepower Race


What happened? Maximum power on MX13 rose by 20hp to 530hp, while maximum torque went up by 100Nm to 2600Nm. Hold the back page. However, thanks to major drivetrain and aerodynamic improvements new CF and XF are capable of returning up-to seven per cent better fuel economy. Now that IS a story worth writing about. Having chided DAF for not participating in the European power race, I’ve ended-up admiring Eindhoven’s engineers, and especially marketing men, for sticking to their guns. They were right I was wrong.


Today, only the two Swedish manufacturers are still willing to battle it out above 700hp with Volvo’s latest D16K 16 litre holding the crown with 750hp and 3,550Nm of torque. Only seeing that Scania and Volvo are from a country where the normal maximum gross weight is 60-tonnes (on certain logging operations it can be much higher) it’s hardly surprising they’ve both developed 700hp plus engines.


Out of the Horsepower Race


As for the rest of Europe, and especially Blighty, apart from power-mad owner-drivers (and there are increasingly fewer of them around today) and those small fleets who buy 600hp plus flagship prime movers to lock-in their drivers and use them as a prestigious form of advertising, the number of UK hauliers who can possibly justify a 600hp plus truck can be counted on the fingers of both hands…alright, possibly the toes of both feet too. Moreover, most of those who CAN justify that level of power will be heavy-hauliers shifting loads well in excess of the UK semi domestic weight limit of 44 tonnes, four tonnes more than the EU’s harmonised semi top-weight limit.


If by now you’re thinking: ‘Yer self-obsessed pommie, in Australia we run trucks on general freight with much higher gross weights than Europe, often more than 100 tonnes. WE need that level of horsepower. So stick that in yer pipe and smoke it!’ you’d be perfectly right.


Out of the Horsepower Race


But as this column is called EuroBureau, right now I’m just telling you how things stand ‘up here’. Equally, that’s not to say that someone down-under might be thinking that a Cursor 16 could be just the thing to put in an Iveco PowerStar…you never know.


So where does that leave the European horsepower race? ‘Stalled’ is probably the best word to describe it. If nothing else it shows that despite all the hundreds of words written by people like me about high-powered prime movers all the countries in Europe suddenly start allowing heavier trucks on their roads, and by heavy I mean 60-tonnes plus, I can’t see that situation changing.


Until it does I think I’ll go easy on the old superlatives and hyperbole. After all, what really matters to operators isn’t how much power a truck has got, it’s how much money they can make with it. Don’t you think?


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Author: Brian Weatherley

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