Cat eyes B-double market

Fronting road transport media for the first time, just weeks after taking the reins as Cat Trucks Australia managing director back in January, a resolute Kevin Dennis didn’t pull any punches.

“This is the truck we need and the truck we should’ve had from the start,” he said. He was referring to the newly released CT630S model, purposely designed to provide Cat with a carefully targeted spearhead into the Australian heavy-duty market’s dominant B-double segment. Speaking at Cat’s Aussie headquarters in Melbourne, his comments came during a pre-launch presentation of the CT630S and, during the past few months, Cat Trucks has been busy putting the final touches to the model which it believes has the potential to carve a strong stake in the B-double business.

The extent of that potential became apparent when reporters were given an opportunity to steer a new CT630S hooked to a curtain-sided B-double set on the 1650km inland run along the Newell Hwy from Brisbane to Melbourne. Just as apparent was the obvious confidence of Cat in its newest contender, perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that trailers were loaded to deliver a gross weight of 60.5 tonnes. Evolution of the CT630S has also been something of a long road; a prototype model was first shown in 2012 at the ITTES Truck Show in Melbourne. Yet rather than attempt to excuse the delay in bringing the S to market, Cat Trucks senior management has been determined to highlight its unwavering intention to get it right and promote the features which enhance the model’s attributes for B-double work.

Chief engineer Adrian Wright spoke at a pre-launch preview earlier this year. “We have been absolutely dedicated to developing a model that not only meets the physical length and weight requirements of a conventional truck aimed squarely at modern-day B-double work but a model which also produces performance and fuel efficiency standards which we believe are at the forefront of the B-double business when compared on equal terms with any other brand of truck,” he said. “In the long run, the extra time taken to make sure we get the truck right will be miniscule and judged by our customers to be time well spent.”

Like all CT630 derivatives led by the flagship CT630LS model, the S is punched by the potent performance of a 15.2 litre Cat C15 engine with peak power of 550hp at 1800rpm and top torque of 1850lb ft at 1200rpm. The durable C15 needs little introduction to most Australian linehaul drivers who have at one time or another been behind the wheel of a truck powered by yellow hardware.

What makes this latest incarnation of the C15 different though is an emissions system which uses no EGR or SCR, instead utilising a pair of diesel particular filters mounted horizontally under the chassis to meet Australia’s current emissions regulation.

Apart from less complexity and cost, Cat emissions system provides less restrictions on outboard chassis space for the fitment of extras such as larger fuel capacity, hydraulic oil tanks or remote-mounted air-conditioners.

But the key is in the S; meaning it’s shorter than its CT630 siblings and therefore comfortably capable of slipping into 26m, 34 pallet B-double roles.

By raising the cab about 50mm and moving it 250mm forward, Cat has developed a truck with a slimline bumper to back-of-cab (BBC) dimension of just 2845mm, or 112 inches.

Few linehaul trucks are the slimline variety and Cat Trucks now has two types of sleeper on offer. One is the integral sleeper cab fitted to the test truck in this exercise and the locally-built CT630SC version.

A 40-inch sleeper with close to 2m of standing room, SC stands for Superior Cab and, as the name suggests, it’s a more spacious and better appointed bunk than the more utilitarian integral sleeper supplied direct from the Navistar factory in the US where Cat trucks are derived from the hugely popular International Prostar model.

Critically Cat is quick to point out that both the integral sleeper and the substantially more upmarket SC version retain the ability to house 34 pallet B-double sets within the 26m overall length regulation.

For the record, BBC of the CT630S stretches to 3505mm (with the integral sleeper and 3590mm in the CT630SC version.

Founded on a huck-bolted chassis and 4.8m wheelbase, the S has the same 90t gross combination mass (GCM) rating as all CT630 models, allowing it to cope with B-triple and road train doubles in addition to B-double duties.

Source: Page 10, Big Rigs Free Fortnightly, June 6, 2014
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