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Monthly Update of Global Trucking News
Compiled Exclusively for FleetWatch by Frank
Beeton of Econometrix
When Australians can't find anyone else to compete with, they have to make do with competing against each other. There aren't too many other places on earth that could challenge for the title of "World's Longest Roadtrain", so Australian outback cities vie for the title among themselves! Latest reported winner is Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, which, on October 17th, 2004, put up a rig consisting of a tri-drive Kenworth C501 hauler and 117 trailers, measuring an astonishing 1 480 metres in overall length!
big for the camera - The World’s Longest Roadtrain - 117 trailers
were linked behind this tri-drive Kenworth C501 hauler.
This monster combination, grossing at around 1 500 tons, traveled under its own power for one and a half kilometers to set the world record. The air braking system required nearly two kilometers of hose and additional compressors were piped into the system at strategic intervals. The previous record, which was held by Mungindi, Queensland, had stood at 89 trailers behind a Mack prime mover.
Staying with roadtrains, it was back in 2001 that WorldWatch reported on an innovative new operation in Australia's Northern Territory. A local haulage company named Bulkhaul had developed a configuration which combined an 8x6 Kenworth C501 rigid tipper equipped with a Cummins Signature 600 engine - and six trailers - to haul 270 ton loads of gold-bearing ore on 80 km round trips from The Granites mine to a treatment plant. The main point of departure when comparing this combination with more "normal" road trains was that the third and fourth trailers were built to "B-train" (Interlink) pattern, and had their own Cummins M11-400 engine, plus Allison automatic transmission and Meritor drive axles, mounted on the fourth - or "power" - trailer.
A recently-published update on this operation reveals some interesting fine-tuning of the concept, which now deploys six rigs of this type. Both engine applications have been upgraded to larger displacement units. In the prime mover it is a Cummins QSK 19 standard while the "auxiliary" unit - still located under the fourth trailer - is now a 15 litre ISX power unit. The combined power output of nearly 750 kW is needed to move the 400-plus ton gross combination at speeds up to the "safety maximum" of 70 km/h on private roads.
Whereas the original report spoke of computer-controlled multi-engine operation, it now appears that the drivers control both power units via manual controls in the Kenworth's cab. The technique used is to back off the revs of the auxiliary engine when the prime mover's 18-speed manual transmission is being shifted and then to ease the power back on through the Allison HD-series 5-speed automatic. The second engine is not used when the 120-ton tare rig is running unloaded but it does come into play for low-speed positioning during the unloading process, which is beneficial to engine and clutch life on the prime mover. The operator claims that this configuration returns a fuel consumption benefit of around 10% per ton-kilometre when compared to more "conventional" hauler-plus-four-trailer roadtrains.
To put the record-breaker rig - described at the start of this article - into perspective, the Bulkhaul combinations are 97 metres long, ride on 150 wheels and are considered to be among the largest in the world in regular service.
For some time, there has been a feeling among observers of the world truck scene that there is still unfinished business in this industry's ultimate consolidation. With mega-groupings such as DaimlerChrysler, Volvo/Renault and Paccar working consistently towards increased economies of scale through more globalised product, it is becoming increasingly difficult to contemplate how independents such as MAN, Iveco, Scania and International, not to mention Hino, Volkswagen of Brazil and Tata, whose main appeal is based on differentiated product line-ups, can continue to cope with the huge investments necessary to develop new ranges of product. This problem is being continuously exacerbated by the ever more demanding environmental legislation now spreading from the First World into an increasing number of developing markets.
The news, therefore, that MAN Nutzfahrzeuge AG of Germany and International Truck and Engine Corporation of the USA have entered into a strategic agreement will draw its fair share of "I told you so" responses. The agreement covers the design, development, sourcing and manufacturing of truck components, systems and engines.
In our opinion, this agreement makes a great deal of sense given that the two companies have limited overlap in their primary areas of influence, with MAN being a strong player in Europe while International Truck and Engine Corporation operates mainly on the North and South American continents. In fact, the alliance may even allow them both to progress in important "neutral" market areas such as Asia and Australasia. Both companies do, of course, enjoy a strong product presence in South Africa.
The two companies have reportedly stressed that the arrangement is strategic and that they will continue with normal inter-marque competitive activities. Reading between the lines, however, it is easy to get a sense of important potential financial benefits that will flow from componentry rationalized over combined production volumes, and how the alliance will be better placed to fend off future acquisitive advances from any of the established groups - or remaining independents - should these be forthcoming.
New Spanish Nissans.
Nissan's enigmatic range of European market light and medium trucks built in Spain, on which WorldWatch reported in some detail back in June 2004, will, reportedly, be replaced by a new line-up during mid-2006. An investment of 140 million euros will be made to replace, with a new product line-up, the current Cabstar and Atleon diesel models which are being manufactured at a rate of just over 18 500 units per annum. Considering that Nissan Motor has recently contracted affiliated truck specialist manufacturer Nissan Diesel to develop and build its next domestic Japanese Cabstar model, it will be interesting to see if that company has any significant involvement with the development of this new Spanish product range.
On Show in Tokyo.
After the Great American Trucking Show, and the IAA Hanover exhibition, which both took place during September, the 2004 truck show season ended off in Tokyo during November. Here are a few highlights from the reports that emanated from the latter event:
Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation's concept show truck incorporated new-for-Japan features including all-round disc brake fitment, air suspension, wide single drive axle tyres, 10-stud wheels, ultra water repellent glass, air wipers and pedestrian-spotting technology. Developed in association with its German affiliate, DaimlerChrysler, the pedestrian monitoring/warning system uses a pair of cameras which capture images in front of the vehicle, and a central controller which then calculates their relative position by comparing the images with a database of around 10 000 human shapes. The system is claimed to be able to spot pedestrians between 5 and 20 metres away, at speeds of up to 30 km/h.
of the innovations on Mitsubishi Fuso’s concept truck seen
at the Tokyo show is a ‘pedestrian spotter’ which detects
pedestrians between 5 and 20 metres away.
The latest version of Mitsubishi's 12,9-litre diesel engine, designated 6M70(T3) was also on display, in a Super Great 6x2 tipper application. Design features reportedly included common rail fuel injection, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), and urea-based selective catalytic reduction
Isuzu Motors' exhibits included alternative fuel versions of its Elf (N Series) light/medium truck lineup. The power systems ranged from Compressed Natural Gas through Di-methyl Ether to hybrid drive technology. Isuzu's hybrid system uses a generator, inverter and lithium ion battery pack, and is coupled to the manufacturer's clutchless Smoother-E transmission.
Statements attributed to Isuzu executives at the Tokyo Show left no doubt that the company has embarked on a major marketing push. It was announced that the company was about to launch its heavy vehicle range in China, where some 450 000 light and medium Isuzu trucks have already been produced. It was further stated that the company would be expanding its UK range upwards to include 10 and 12 ton GVM models.
One of the most significant exhibits at Tokyo was, undoubtedly, Nissan Diesel's new Quon heavy vehicle range. The really good news is the all-new cab which will replace the 1980's vintage design still adorning most present models in the UD range. This cab will, at last, give these vehicles an image to match their very successful driveline technology. Technically, the range also moves ahead with acqueous urea-based SCR exhaust after-treatment to meet Japan's new, European-aligned emissions standards which come into effect in October, 2005.
of the most significant exhibits at the Tokyo show was,
undoubtedly, Nissan Diesel’s new Quon. The cab brings the
Japanese manufacturer firmly in line with the Europeans in
terms of looks, comfort and style.
Another technically interesting Nissan Diesel exhibit was the seven litre direct-injection CNG engine, claimed to be a world first, fitted to a 6 ton GVM Condor truck.
Hino's exhibits included a safety-enhanced Profia ASV truck-tractor, incorporating driver condition monitoring, night-time pedestrian detector, and forward-looking camera to provide a continuous record of events taking place ahead of the truck. There were also, reportedly, six hybrid driveline vehicles, reflecting parent company Toyota's world leadership in this area of technology. Some attention was also paid to promoting the somewhat low-key, but apparently satisfactory, Scania-Hino alliance at the show.
issues got high attention as exemplified by the Hino Hybrid
system which uses a generator, inverter and lithium ion
battery pack to keep moving.
attention was paid by Hino to promoting the somewhat low-key,
but apparently satisfactory, Scania- Hino alliance.
Mazda's Dash and Bongo derivatives of the Titan line-up incorporated an automatic, keyless, idle-stop/restart facility to save fuel and reduce emissions. A new high-pressure, direct-injection fuel system was also on display, as well as a number of "smart" safety features.
The new, snub-nosed Toyota HiAce van range reportedly drew much attention as it represented the first major change to this series in 15 years. Engine choices include 2,0 or 2,7-litre petrol engines, or a 2,5-litre charge-cooled diesel, all Euro 4 compliant. The range is available with two optional body heights, 1,98 m and 2,10 m.
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