Trade Trucks Article
The specs have been locked in for the Volvo FH in our long-haul duel.
When February 2015 rolls around, we’ll be hitting the road in our Kenworth K200 and Volvo FH16 for a weeklong test of two of the most popular linehaul prime movers on the Australian market.
We’ll be simulating a typical working week on the east coast towing identical B-double sets.
The route will take in the Hume Highway from Melbourne to Sydney, the Pacific from Sydney to Brisbane and finally the two day run home on the Newell Highway.
Both trucks will be hooked up to the same Procon MRM telematics system to enable vehicle performance and fuel economy to be recorded and monitored in real time.
While fuel economy is part of our challenge, performance, on-road handling and livability will also be explored and we’ll be camping in the trucks to assess cab comfort and driving to log book hours.
While the Stig has been done before by some other mob, our mystery driver The Stag (his idea not ours) and I will be rotating through both trucks during the week to allow for differing driving styles.
Both of these trucks are manufactured in Australia yet represent almost diametrically opposing engineering philosophies.
The Kenworth is the no-nonsense old school contender with a new age twist that showcases the best of North American componentry and local engineering, while the Australian built dependable FH fairly bristles with the latest in driver aids, European safety features and fuel saving technologies.
Our K200 ‘Woody Wagon’ stretch cab has already been ordered and now it’s Volvo’s turn.
Our FH will feature a Globetrotter XL cab and rest on a 3,200mm wheel base. A centre mounted 150 litre diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank will complement twin square fuel tanks of 690 and 520 litres respectively.
But before you go thinking the Aussie made Swede is a bit on the bland side, under the cab will be a 16 litre, 600hp engine with 2,800 Nm (2065 lb/ft) of torque.
And behind the D16G600 donk will be an overdrive I-shift automated transmission rated to 3,150Nm.
The final drive ratio for the 70 tonne GVM prime mover will be 3.40:1 to capitalise on the low revving lug-along nature of Volvo’s flagship engine.
The 2-leaf parabolics springs will keep the 7.1 tonne front axle in place while power will get to the pavement via a 23 tonne single reduction hypoid drive rear end.
While bling may not be this FH’s thing, the big white FH will feature a vertical exhaust stack and Durabrite alloys to give the Volvo an understated yet, dare I say, classy, look.
Volvo’s wild bar will prevent any kamikaze marsupials from getting stuck in the FH’s teeth.
Perhaps what is more interesting is what is going on under the skin of the FH.
In order to show off some of the cutting-edge techno wizardry available in the big Volvo, we’ll be using Volvo’s I-See GPS terrain mapping function, I-Roll free- wheeling function, Volvo Dynamic Steering (VDS), as well as adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning just to name a few.
Inside the cab gets a little fancy with leather trimmed steering wheel, a premium sound package and a 33 litre fridge.
A diesel cab air-conditioner will keep things cool during rest times.
Our FH is expected to roll off the Wacol assembly line in early December and we plan to follow the build along the way.
I’m also going to spend a day with some of Volvo’s driver training team so I can be schooled in the dark arts of fuel saving technology and driving a Volvo with some small amount of finesse.
Next stop will be Bayswater as our K200 will be set to roll off the assembly line in early November.