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