If you thought the economic slowdown would stifle innovation in a depressed truck market, you’re wrong. Apparently manufacturers have been busy planning for the pending upturn. Major introductions at both the Work Truck Show, sponsored by the National Truck Equipment Association, and CONEXPO-CON/AGG, sponsored by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, revealed all-new product offerings, as well as a new player in the vocational truck market.
Caterpillar makes its debut
Caterpillar made good on its promise to enter the vocational truck market when it unveiled its CT660 set-back axle truck, which should start shipping in July. It will be followed by the CT680 set-forward axle truck sometime in 2013. Both will be sold and serviced exclusively through the Cat North American dealer network.
“When we announced we were going to stop selling truck engines to on-highway truck manufacturers, at the same time, we announced that we were moving down this path,” says George Taylor, director of Caterpillar’s On-Highway Truck Group. “So for us, it was really about a strategic move that looked at all the current players in the market having their own integrated powertrains and us making decisions that kept us moving forward.”
The CT660 will be available with either a 116- or 122-in. BBC. “We will have the full variety of axle configurations on both of the trucks,” notes Taylor.
Engine options include the Cat CT11, CT13 and CT15, with displacements of 11.2, 12.5 and 15.2 liters, power ranges from 330 to 550 hp and 1,450 to 1,850 lb.-ft. of torque. The engines combine advanced exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) with a high-pressure common-rail fuel system, precision intake air management system and electronic controls to meet emissions and provide optimum performance. A compact graphite engine block reduces weight by as much as 500 lbs.
A combination of dual sequential turbochargers and a precise fuel injection system allows the engines to develop peak torque at lower speeds. This reduces shifting and enables shifting at much lower speeds.
A unique option for the trucks is the Cat CX31 automatic transmission, which traces its roots back to the company’s articulated dump trucks. The CX31, with six forward speeds and one reverse, is built to compliment the torque output of the Cat CT Series engines. The transmission features heavy-duty clutches and gear sets that allow full-power shifts, increasing efficiency and productivity, while reducing drivetrain shock loads.
An electronic control module, mounted directly on the transmission, regulates shift points based on throttle demand and vehicle speed. With adaptive shift logic, the CX31 can sense driver operating style to balance fuel economy and performance. There are two side locations and a high-output rear location for the power take-off.
An aluminum lock-up torque converter in the CX31 allows quick starts from a dead stop, even with heavy loads. In addition, the CT660 can be specified with other transmission options, including the manual and UltraShift Plus Vocational transmissions built by Eaton.
The Cat CT660 will feature a cab made from aluminum alloy for long life and low weight; one- or two-piece windshields; a modular hood that allows the customer to only replace damaged sections; and a three-piece stainless steel bumper.
Class 8 gets a little more crowded
Western Star and Mack both introduced trucks at the “small” end of the Class 8 market.
Western Star, known primarily as a premium custom truck builder, is diving into new territory with the launch of its 4700. “The Western Star 4700 broadens our product lineup to meet the growing needs of value-minded vocational customers who still demand the attributes found in a traditional Western Star truck,” says Mike Jackson, general manager. Available in a set-forward and set-back configuration, the 4700 features a 110-in. BBC. It targets the dump, plow, mixer, crane, roll-off and sewer vac markets.