Big Rigs reporter David Meredith was on the ground when Cat Trucks showed off its new CT630S to journalists in Melbourne recently.
After a two-year development program combining technical and engineering resources from leading US truck manufacturer Navistar, with durability demands of Australian linehaul fleet operators, Cat Trucks is now poised to bring the much-anticipated CT630S B-double specialist to the Australian and New Zealand markets. The S is powered by a Cat C15 engine, uses dual diesel particulate filters to meet emissions requirements and has a shortened bonnet, to accommodate 26m configurations.
Features of new CAT sure to impress
Instead of the frequent buckshot approach to new truck specs, CAT trucks has aimed a sniper’s round at the interstate and distribution B-double market with the new CT630S, due for release in March.
The compacted sleeper cab will enable a 34-pallet rig, while the day cab stretches that out to 36 pallets.
A variant with a locally designed and produced stand-up sleeper will also be available.
In the last quarter of this year, the range will be expanded with a heavy-haulage version, with a customised, single skin chassis. It’s all part of the CAT Trucks’ new CEO Kevin Dennis’ aim to sell around 350 units in 2014, heading for 1000 trucks in five years’ time.
This compares with annual volumes of 158, 309 and 115 for 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
In a frank admission of past errors, Dennis noted that the CT630S is the truck the brand should have started with at the launch in 2010.
The long-nose CT630 will probably move to construction-focused applications, as the shorter 630S takes over the bulk of CAT’s high volume general freight role.
Local testing of the CT630S in linehaul B-double applications has been a major factor in the new model’s development to Australian requirements, and has also confirmed the Cat C15 engine’s fuel efficiency and performance, with early results averaging between 1.78km/litre to 1.85km/litre.
The C15 rated up to 550hp and 2508Nm of torque at 1200rpm is the only ADR 80-03 engine that doesn’t need SCR or EGR components to meet the emissions standards.
All the emission wizardry is completed in two DPF filters in the exhaust pipes, each maintenance-free and designed to last the life of the engine. The recent Melbourne stretch of 40 degree-plus days proved the effectiveness of the set-up, with test trucks pulling around 60-tonnes in metro applications, never shifting above 98 degrees engine coolant temperature.
That’s a few degrees cooler than some of the other brand engines I’ve driven in winter.
To get the BBC figure under limits for 26m B-doubles, the engineers basically took the cab of the long nose CT630, pushed it forwards by 225mm – raising it 50mm as well – and redesigned the bumper set-up to gain a further 25mm.
A shorter bonnet was needed along with a host of other engineering mods to compensate for less room and therefore more heat under the hood.
With a proven driveline, most of the upgrade mods have focused on the chassis.
The new model gains a 90-tonne GCM, via a huck-bolted chassis design supporting a 4.8 metre wheelbase, reinforced with an insert over the tandem drive mounting points.
The rear of the chassis rails is tapered for manoeuvrability and there’s also an upper frame mount to support the higher stance of the cab. Rear axle includes a traction control system with optional final drive ratios.
A power divider and diff lock on the leading drive axle are also standard features.
The rear suspension is Hendrickson’s Primaax heavy-duty airbag assembly.
Despite being mounted around 50mm higher than existing models, the cab sits on a three-point mounting system with air suspension under the rear to further enhance stability and ride quality.
A long list of driver comfort features includes Gramag high-back air-suspended seats, electrically operated power windows and heated side mirrors.
The new CATs will arrive with a four-year, 800,000km warranty.