Gen­er­a­tional change:

Sca­nia’s game-chang­ing new trucks

Deals on Wheels - - Con­tents -

As the crow flies, the Swedish city of Södertälje is barely 35 kilo­me­tres south­west of Stock­holm. But un­like the coun­try’s cap­i­tal city, it’s not a mag­net for tourists.

What it does have, how­ever, is in­dus­try, with truck maker Sca­nia one of the most prom­i­nent names around town.

In fact, Sca­nia build­ings and sig­nage is ev­ery­where. A typ­i­cal Södertälje res­i­dent ei­ther works for Sca­nia, or they have a friend, rel­a­tive or next door neigh­bour who does. It’s a lit­tle like Can­berra’s ra­tio of pub­lic ser­vants.

So it goes with­out say­ing that a trip to Södertälje was the ob­vi­ous des­ti­na­tion to find out what all the fuss was about in re­gards to Sca­nia’s ‘Next Gen­er­a­tion’ range.

With state­ments from Sca­nia CEO and pres­i­dent Hen­rik Hen­riks­son that the new mod­els were the com­pany’s “most im­por­tant launch ever”, it sim­ply had to be a big deal.

Cer­tainly it’s the big­gest new re­lease for the Swedish truck man­u­fac­turer in 20 years.

For Sca­nia, it means a com­pletely over­hauled range, first with an up­dated R Se­ries and a brand new S Se­ries. Al­ready the S Se­ries, notable for its flat floor, has struck a chord in Europe, tak­ing out the 2017 In­ter­na­tional Truck of the Year award at the re­cent IAA Com­mer­cial Ve­hi­cle Show in Han­nover, Ger­many.

The Han­nover ap­pear­ance was part of a trav­el­ling show­case for Sca­nia, al­though the trucks re­ceived their ini­tial un­veil­ing at the Grand Palais des Champs-Élysées in Paris, coin­cid­ing with a Sus­tain­able Trans­port Fo­rum with guest speaker Kofi An­nan, for­mer sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Na­tions no less.

In Södertälje, how­ever, in­ter­na­tional me­dia and Euro­pean cus­tomers had the op­por­tu­nity to not only view the new trucks up close, but take them for a spin around Sca­nia’s Demo Cen­tre’s test track on the city’s out­skirts, as well as a few pre­de­ter­mined un­du­lat­ing and wind­ing routes out­side the track’s se­cu­rity gates.

DE­SIGN OF A DECADE

How­ever, let’s go back a bit. Sca­nia be­gan plan­ning for the Next Gen­er­a­tion range 10 years ago. Ac­cord­ing to Sca­nia project di­rec­tor He­lene

Sjöblom, the aim was to de­sign and shape a new truck that was not only go­ing to be world lead­ing in 2016, but for many years to come.

“De­sign­ing the new truck has given us a unique op­por­tu­nity to im­prove many things like fuel econ­omy, drive­abil­ity, safety and also cre­at­ing the best pos­si­ble work en­vi­ron­ment for driv­ers,” Sjöblom said dur­ing the Paris launch.

It’s been a long and in­volved process, in­clud­ing 10 mil­lion kilo­me­tres of test driv­ing. The cost along the way has been es­ti­mated at around 2 bil­lion Eu­ros ($3 bil­lion).

Im­por­tantly, it ap­pears driv­ers will be the first to ap­pre­ci­ate the ben­e­fits of the new Sca­nias in terms of space and safety. The ul­tra-high strength ten­sile steel used in the new mono­coque cab is said to be up to eight times stronger than the cur­rent model, ac­cord­ing to Christofer Karls­son, head of crash safety sys­tems at Sca­nia.

Hence, the new cab’s struc­ture has en­abled the driver’s seat to be moved closer – 65mm to be ex­act – to the wind­screen, of­fer­ing greater for­ward and side vis­i­bil­ity.

This is more pro­nounced with the de­signed dash­board, which is now slightly lower than pre­vi­ous mod­els.

Karls­son, how­ever, says the ma­jor safety ini­tia­tive for the driver is the rollover airbag.

“It’s unique to the truck­ing in­dus­try, and we’re the first to of­fer one,” he says.

“It will dra­mat­i­cally change the num­ber of fa­tal­i­ties in these kinds of ac­ci­dents.”

To be more pre­cise, Sca­nia is es­ti­mat­ing that the fig­ure for driv­ers fa­tally in­jured in rollovers could be cut by 25 per cent.

Karls­son also points out that brak­ing per­for­mance has been im­proved by ad­just­ing brake cal­lipers and the ABS soft­ware.

“We now have a higher brak­ing force on the front axle,” he con­tin­ues. “This gives us a 5 per cent re­duc­tion in stop­ping dis­tance.

“As an ex­am­ple, if you have a 40-tonne truck driv­ing 80km an hour in dry con­di­tions, you would re­duce the stop­ping dis­tance by two me­tres. And that ends up at ap­prox­i­mately 40 me­tres.”

Back inside the cab, fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion is given to taller driv­ers be­tween 150cm and 200cm in height with more legroom.

In ad­di­tion, the space saved with the driver’s seat mov­ing for­ward is used to good ef­fect for long-haul vari­ables.

There’s a lot more stor­age space, with an abun­dance of nooks and cran­nies, while sleep­ing ar­range­ments can be made avail­able based on re­quire­ments.

There’s even more room with the S cab’s flat floor, espe­cially for two-up op­er­a­tions. Bed op­tions in that model can in­clude two 80cm bunks, with the pos­si­bil­ity of ex­tend­ing the lower bed to 100cm. As an op­tional ex­tra, passengers can en­joy a seat that swivels and re­clines.

For the in­te­grated in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem op­tions, there’s a choice be­tween a 5- or 7-inch screen.

The in­te­grated steer­ing wheel con­trols are stan­dard. Voice ac­ti­va­tion is through a hid­den mi­cro­phone in the ceil­ing.

The units have four loud­speak­ers, al­though there are op­tions to add fur­ther speak­ers. There are in­puts for both AUX and USB.

For driv­ers who pre­fer to keep their busi­ness and per­sonal lives sep­a­rate, there are slots for two sep­a­rate mo­bile phones.

Ex­pect fur­ther amend­ments to the en­ter­tain­ment pack­age, as well as Sca­nia’s Advanced Driver As­sis­tance Sys­tems.

The new driver-con­trolled cli­mate sys­tems fur­ther add to the com­fort of those in con­trol of the ve­hi­cle. It’s even pos­si­ble to or­der a truck with a heated wind­screen.

FUEL SAV­ING

While this is all ex­cit­ing news for the driver, it’s the truck’s owner who is looking to ben­e­fit from the new Sca­nia’s cre­den­tials. While the well­be­ing of the per­son be­hind the wheel is vi­tally im­por­tant, fleet own­ers want to know their bot­tom line will be on the way up.

Firstly, Sca­nia is promis­ing fuel sav­ings of 5 per cent com­pared to the cur­rent Stream­line range, with 3 per cent of that fig­ure com­ing from the up­dated pow­er­trains, in­clud­ing the new ver­sion of its 13-litre 500hp en­gine.

Im­por­tantly, Sca­nia is con­cen­trat­ing on se­lec­tive cat­alytic re­duc­tion (SCR) for its ex­haust emis­sions. It says it views SCR as be­ing su­pe­rior in terms of re­duced fuel con­sump­tion and greater re­li­a­bil­ity.

The Next Gen­er­a­tion trucks’ Euro 6 en­gines have all re­ceived new en­gine man­age­ment sys­tems, the new cab’s cool­ing ca­pac­ity aiding in the quest to save on fuel. An up­dated com­bus­tion cham­ber, new in­jec­tors and a tough tur­bocharger with fixed ge­om­e­try is said to lift both per­for­mance and econ­omy.

A new au­to­mated Sca­nia Op­ti­cruise ’box adds to the per­for­mance up­date, its gear changes now up to 45 per cent faster with a ra­tio of 2.35. The in­tro­duc­tion of a layshaft brake sys­tem as stan­dard – in­stead of us­ing syn­chro rings to syn­chro­nise the dif­fer­ent speeds of the coun­ter­shaft and main shaft in the gear­box dur­ing gearshifts – means al­most im­me­di­ate gear changes when up­shift­ing.

“This tech­nique is has­sle-free, and it makes a big dif­fer­ence when it comes to driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and per­for­mance,” Sca­nia head of trans­mis­sion de­vel­op­ment Mag­nus Mack­aldener says. “Thanks to the layshaft brake, our most pop­u­lar gear­box for long-haul trucks – the GRS905 – shifts up a gear in 0.4 sec­onds, which means that gearshift time has been al­most halved. It is so fast in prac­tice that it ren­ders other types of com­pli­cated, en­ergy-con­sum­ing and heavy gearshift time-cut­ting so­lu­tions su­per­flu­ous.”

In a god­send for driv­ers sit­ting in queues, Sca­nia has also over­hauled its adap­tive cruise con­trol

The ma­jor safety ini­tia­tive for the driver is the rollover airbag

sys­tem, which has now been de­signed to han­dle speeds down to stand­still.

The other ma­jor fuel-sav­ing ini­tia­tive is through aero­dy­nam­ics, thanks to on­go­ing re­search and de­vel­op­ment in Sca­nia’s wind tun­nels. Sub­tle changes to the new mod­els’ ap­pear­ance are not just for cos­metic pur­poses.

“We’re def­i­nitely set­ting a new stan­dard when it comes to aero­dy­nam­ics,” Sca­nia long haulage trucks sales and mar­ket­ing head Martin Sylvén says. “The new cab shape, the clean cab cor­ners, all the flush mounted com­po­nents and the tight panel gaps … ev­ery­thing to re­duce air drag.

“The de­sign­ers have even im­proved air flow un­der the ve­hi­cle.”

TEST TRACK

Sca­nia had 16 vari­ants of its new range avail­able for a few hours of driv­ing in and around its test track fa­cil­ity. These ranged from a R410 4x2 up to the new S cab 730 6x2, all car­ry­ing sig­nif­i­cant loads with a va­ri­ety of trail­ers. In­cluded among these were a num­ber of vari­ants show­cas­ing the new 500hp en­gine in both R and S cabs.

It is Europe of course, so no sign of a 6x4. Still, these trucks with a va­ri­ety of trail­ers and cargo of­fered a good in­sight into the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of Sca­nia’s Next Gen­er­a­tion.

The ad­van­tage of the new cab de­sign hit home in­stantly when first climb­ing in be­hind the wheel. With the im­proved vis­i­bil­ity, the view is panoramic, to say the least.

The test track had a num­ber of in­ter­est­ing grades and curves, a fairly steep grade of­fer­ing the chance to try out Sca­nia’s three-sec­ond hill hold fea­ture.

Cor­ners in quick suc­ces­sion also tested the truck’s ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity, the most chal­leng­ing be­ing a car trans­port-car­ry­ing R450 4x2 and an R500 6x2 with a cou­ple of log-laden trail­ers.

Per­for­mance-wise, these new Sca­nias are a su­perb drive; en­gine noise is barely no­tice­able.

Even if you’re not into Euro­pean trucks, it’s dif­fi­cult not to be im­pressed with the power, the han­dling and the com­fort.

Who needs driver­less trucks when you’re be­hind the wheel of one of these gen­tle giants?

How­ever, the ques­tion re­mains: when they will make their way to Aus­tralia?

And what model vari­ants are we likely to see on our roads?

It seems un­likely that the flat-floor S cab will land here any­time soon. Also, it’s odds-on that South Amer­i­cans will be driv­ing these Next Gen­er­a­tion trucks be­fore we do.

Sca­nia Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Roger McCarthy po­litely dodges our ques­tions, re­main­ing tight-lipped about the tim­ing of the Next Gen­er­a­tion trucks’ ar­rival down un­der, hint­ing only that it could be around two or three years’ time.

Ad­mir­ers of fine ma­chin­ery, Sca­nia cus­tomers, and other cu­ri­ous truck buy­ers will be wait­ing with bated breath.

The car car­rier was a true test of the new Sca­nia’s ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity

At hand: Sca­nia’s im­proved dash de­sign

No head bang­ing in this unit

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