CAT re­ally rocks

Aus­tralia’s new­est truck makes its de­but, writes James Stan­ford

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Big Wheels -

THE world’s first CAT truck has been launched in Aus­tralia. NC2, a ven­ture be­tween Cater­pil­lar and US truck gi­ant Nav­is­tar, pre­sented the new trucks in the shadow of Uluru.

They are heav­ily based on the Amer­i­can In­ter­na­tional Prostar and Trans­tar trucks, which have not been avail­able in Aus­tralia, but have some mi­nor styling dif­fer­ences.

The first batch of 350 CAT trucks have the last of the real CAT onhigh­way en­gines, the C13 and C15, which are no longer avail­able in other trucks.

CAT is rush­ing to make as many trucks at its Tul­la­ma­rine plant be­fore the end of the year when emis­sion rules will see both en­gines phased out. Big Wheels will re­veal the fu­ture en­gine plans for CAT trucks next week.

NC2 flew cus­tomers, po­ten­tial cus­tomers, key CAT dealer staff and me­dia to Uluru for the all-im­por­tant launch. Its trucks might have been on US roads for more than two years wear­ing In­ter­na­tional badges, but they are new to the Aus­tralian mar­ket.

Global chief Al Sal­teil says: ‘‘We have great am­bi­tions for CAT trucks in Aus­tralia.’’

Asked if it could bet­ter the 250 a year sales of In­ter­na­tional sales un­der Iveco, Sal­teil says: ‘‘In my mind, ab­so­lutely.’’

NC2 Aus­tralia sales and mar­ket­ing gen­eral man­ager Jeff Tyzack says the feed­back from the launch has been pos­i­tive.

‘‘The in­ter­est has been fan­tas­tic. We’ve had strong or­ders to this point and we’ve had more peo­ple com­mit this week­end.’’

Big Wheels can­vassed sev­eral po­ten­tial buy­ers and the re­sponses were gen­er­ally pos­i­tive.

‘‘ We know it is a re­badged Nav­is­tar In­ter­na­tional truck, but that’s OK. It looks like a pretty good truck,’’ one po­ten­tial cus­tomer says.

An­other two say there are a few mi­nor is­sues with the truck, but are con­fi­dent they’d be ironed out. ‘‘It is a new brand for Aus­tralia. They’ll sort this stuff out as they go.’’

The main gripe seemed to re­late to the lack of space next to the clutch pedal, which is only a prob­lem with right-hand-drive trucks be­cause the turbo charg­ers take up a lot of space on the right side of the en­gine. It seemed a mi­nor is­sue rather than a deal-breaker, though.

No driv­ing was done at the launch, but an in­spec­tion of the trucks left a good im­pres­sion.

The en­gi­neer­ing ap­pears sound and the in­te­rior is com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal. All of the plas­tic sur­faces ap­pear very good for a mass-pro- duced Amer­i­can truck, with qual­ity switchgear, and the seats are com­fort­able (at a stand­still any­way).

Prices will be cru­cial but Tyzack makes it clear that CAT trucks won’t be cheap.

‘‘This is a pre­mium truck with pre­mium en­gines, sup­ported by a pre­mium dealer net­work,’’ he says.

The In­ter­na­tional ver­sions of these trucks have been on the mar­ket for two years, but there has been very lit­tle Aus­tralian test­ing.

Tyzack says the In­ter­na­tional trucks the CAT rigs are based on have been given a hard work­out over­seas. ‘‘The plat­form has been run­ning in South Amer­ica, places such as Mex­ico, Colom­bia, all the places they run heavy. It’s hot, the roads are pretty crappy— def­i­nitely worse than Aus­tralia.’’

Thomas Baugh­man is NC2’ s prod­uct devel­op­ment chief and he de­vel­oped the orig­i­nal In­ter­na­tional trucks as well as the right-hand-drive CAT ver­sions.

He is con­fi­dent the US test reg­i­men is thor­ough, but says NC2 would have done more test­ing if the timetable for the in­tro­duc­tion of the CAT trucks was not so tight.

CAT is of­fer­ing two mod­els — the CT610 and CT630.

The 610 has a GCM (gross com­bi­na­tion mass) of 24.5 tonnes and runs the six-cylin­der C13 CAT en­gine which gen­er­ates 346kW (470hp) at 2100 revs and 2237Nm (1650lb-ft) of torque at 1200 revs.

The 630 has a GCM of up to 90 tonnes run­ning as a B-dou­ble when equipped with up­graded sus­pen­sion.

It uses the C15 six-cylin­der CAT en­gine which pumps out 410kW (550hp) at 1800revs and 2508Nm (1850lb-ft) at 2100 revs.

Both run an 18-speed Ea­ton Road­ranger man­ual ( an Ea­ton au­to­matic will be added in the fu­ture).

Axles are sourced from Mer­i­tor and the sus­pen­sion uses Hen­drick­son airbags.

A 660mm sleeper cab is avail­able as an op­tion. It comes with a 660mm x 1840mm x 127mm lower bunk with an in­ner-spring mat­tress.

The CT610 and CT630 will be sold through Cater­pil­lar’s ex­ist­ing CAT deal­er­ship net­work, which has been up­graded in prepa­ra­tion for the new prod­ucts.

‘‘ We­have great am­bi­tions for CAT trucks in Aus­tralia

Ready to roll: (above and left) CAT trucks on the assem­bly line at Tul­la­ma­rine.

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