In­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion

Iveco now has more idea about what the 7600 must do for the Aus­tralian mar­ket, writesGRAHAMSMITH

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

IN­TER­NA­TIONAL should have been one of Iveco’s star per­form­ers last year af­ter the re­lease of the 7600, but in­stead it con­tin­ued to be a prob­lem child. The big­gest prob­lem was the lack of sup­ply. The com­pany’s pre­vi­ous man­age­ment regime had promised deal­ers it would come on stream in the first half of the year, but it didn’t ar­rive un­til much later.

In­ter­na­tional is still a work in progress in this coun­try and the changes made for this year will go some way to fix­ing the is­sues that have held the brand back since it was re-in­tro­duced here in 2004.

Aus­tralia is renowned as one of the tough­est en­vi­ron­ments on earth for a truck. It’s hot and dusty, trucks are ex­pected to carry big loads at high speed for long dis­tances, and ev­ery truck that comes here has to be thor­oughly tested and adapted to the try­ing con­di­tions.

Some­times, if an over­seas man­u­fac­turer isn’t familiar with the Aus­tralian re­quire­ments, they can fall short of the mark when they first ar­rive and it can some­times be hard to con­vince them of the need to make changes to cor­rect prob­lems that arise in this mar­ket.

In­ter­na­tional, as­sem­bled and dis­trib­uted here by Iveco, is still in that learn­ing phase, and per­haps hasn’t been as re­cep­tive as it should have been when changes have been sug­gested or re­quested.

The 9200 and 9900 se­ries heavy-duty In­ter­na­tion­als have strug­gled to get a toe­hold in the lo­cal mar­ket.

But with more im­prove­ments for this year and a com­mit­ment to con­tin­u­ing de­vel­op­ment, the In­ter­na­tional brand is likely to find favour with more lo­cal truck buy­ers.

Both the 9200 and the 9900 are us­ing Cum­mins EGR en­gines or, in the case of the 9900, also the C15 Cater­pil­lar ACERT, to meet the new emis­sion lim­its.

Both are avail­able with rat­ings up to 550 horse­power, with larger ra­di­a­tors and in­ter­cool­ers to cope with the ex­tra heat out­put of the new emis­sion en­gines.

Rout­ing the steer­ing around the big Amer­i­can turbo-diesel en­gines, par­tic­u­larly the Cater­pil­lar ACERT en­gine with its dual tur­bos on the right-hand side of the en­gine, is a ma­jor chal­lenge when re-en­gi­neer­ing a truck for right-hand drive. Iveco’s so­lu­tion on the big In­ter­na­tion­als is to use a mitre box in the steer­ing shaft.

En­gi­neer­ing the new en­gines into the In­ter­na­tion­als is just one of the changes that have been made for 2008.

Iveco’s en­gi­neers have aimed to im­prove their re­li­a­bil­ity and ser­vice­abil­ity, as well as their ride and han­dling.

New chas­sis cross mem­bers make for a stiffer chas­sis, which has re­duced vi­bra­tion, im­proved the ride and gen­er­ally length­ened com­po­nent life.

The 7600 has also come in for changes, per­haps most no­tably the new look. It was al­ready in pro­duc­tion in North Amer­ica as the 7600 was hit­ting the road here, so the changes now bring it into line with the US look.

The bon­net houses a new, larger ra­di­a­tor and in­ter­cooler needed to cope with the higher heat out­put from the new Cater­pil­lar C13 Acert en­gine, which can be rated up to 430 horse­power and 1650lb fit.

Pol­ished al­loy fuel tanks are now stan­dard for a brighter look and there’s also an at­trac­tive lo­cal bumper op­tion avail­able.

Other im­prove­ments in­clude a thicker chas­sis rail that in­creases the strength of the chas­sis and re­duces flex while im­prov­ing the ride.

The new chas­sis makes the 7600 more suited to vo­ca­tional ap­pli­ca­tions, such as car­car­ri­ers and tip­pers.

Iveco’s prob­lems with In­ter­na­tional could be solved if, as spec­u­la­tion would have it, Fiat takes over Nav­is­tar.

The gi­ant Ital­ian com­pany is ea­ger to en­ter the North Amer­i­can mar­ket and is said to be cir­cling Nav­is­tar, which pro­duces In­ter­na­tional brand trucks, as one of the few re­main­ing un­aligned truck­mak­ers in North Amer­ica.

Ken­worth and Peter­bilt, off­springs of the PACCAR or­gan­i­sa­tion, own DAF; Mack is owned by Volvo; Freight­liner and West­ern Star and Ster­ling are all part of Daim­ler, leav­ing In­ter­na­tional/Nav­is­tar out on its own and ripe for a raid.

Own­er­ship of the In­ter­na­tional brand would be of im­mense help to Iveco in the Aus­tralian mar­ket by be­ing able to get changes through more eas­ily.

Big let­down: the In­ter­na­tional 7600’s big­gest prob­lem last year was the lack of sup­ply. It was promised in the first half of the year, but it didn’t ar­rive.

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