French connections 06 January 2012

The recent Solutrans Show in Lyons had plenty to interest for truck and trailer operators alike. Brian Weatherley picks out the main engineering breakthroughs

Canter tipper
The new Mitsubishi Fuso Canter arrives in the UK in early 2012, with 3.5 and 7.5-tonnes options, and a 4x4 to follow. All are powered by the latest 3-litre engine, rated between 130 and 175bhp, along with optional Duonic dual-clutch automatic transmission, in place of a five-speed manual.

At Solutrans, the Canter Wide-cab show truck featured a very high-tensile steel (VHTS) Cabreta electro-hydraulic Tipp Top body, weighing 480kg, including ram and sub-frame. VHTS construction gives up to 160kg more payload compared with the average steel tipper body.

More tipper technology could be found on a prototype Fiat Doblo Cargo. The electro-hydraulic tipper is provided by French LCV bodybuilder Gruau, with the tipper body having a galvanised-steel floor and alloy drop sides. In other Doblo news, UK buyers can now get a fixed 4m² drop-side, platform-bodied variant called Work Up.

SAF 80 One/Alcoa wheel
Is this the 9-tonne trailer axle of the future? Available from September 2012, the SAF 80 ONE features a smaller axle-hub and revised calliper, which saves between 32 and 67kg per axle, depending on whether you fit steel or alloy wheels.

Available with discs or drums, the 80 One tag refers to its use with 80mm offset wheels. Note the smaller, 225mm stud ring diameter (as opposed to a typical 335mm pitch circle). Conveniently-placed opposite SAF's stand was a new 22.5 x 11.5 Alcoa 80mm offset alloy, specifically designed for the trailer.

Light restraint
Light vehicle load restraint is steadily creeping up the enforcement agenda in France, which means the UK could soon follow. Swedish outfit Forankra showcased webbing-based cargo nets specifically for car-derived, compact and large panel vans. Attached to existing load-restraint points in the body floor, the nets can be tightened down around the base using an integrated ratchet strap. The largest net for 3.5-tonners measures 1.3 x 2.2m.

Libner drawbar
This maximum volume Libner 'Eurolib' concept is based around a New Actros 2542 6x2 wagon and Frejat tandem-axle drawbar trailer. It features a telescopic hydraulic drawbar coupling that facilitates rapid through-cargo loading, via hinged front bulkhead on the trailer.

Chereau roller
While other reefer manufacturers are offering stainless-steel buffers on the back of their trailers, to reduce impact damage when backing up to a loading dock, Chereau showed this innovative solution based around conventional rubber rollers, but incorporated into an impact-absorbing corner unit. Close attention has also been paid to the rear LEDs, which have hardened covers and push out of the way when they strike a solid object.

Iveco FPT
Iveco isn't rushing to offer its 480bhp/2,250Nm Euro-6 Cursor 11 engine just yet – though that could change if German authorities offer incentives. The in-line six's common-rail fuel injection system is pressurised to a maximum 2,200 bar and (unlike rivals) achieves Euro 6 with SCR (selective catalytic reduction) and oxy-cat alone.

The latest electrically-controlled variable geometry turbocharger comes with Iveco turbo brake, and similar common-rail features as seen here will appear on Cursor 9 and Cursor 13. Expect them all in a truck at the IAA Show later this year.

Tecnokar tipper
This 26m³ Tecnokar tri-axle tipper, with steel chassis and body, and alloy wheels, tips the scales at 4,650kg, and comes complete with steering front and rear axles on the Mercedes bogie. Options include a radio-controlled sliding top cover and hydraulically-operated tailgate.

Astra is Iveco's wholly-owned specialist heavy-duty division, which builds heavy-duty trucks and construction vehicles, including dumpers and artic tippers. Gamma HD8 range stretches from 4x2 to 8x8 rigids. All driven by Fiat Powertrain (Cursor) engines up to 560bhp sitting beneath Astra's own four-point, coil-sprung, compact cab. In addition to severe-duty rigid chassis, for logging, mining and quarrying operations, the Italian niche-manufacturer builds heavy-haulage and oilfield tractors.

Volvo FH
Full production of Volvo's 750bhp FH16.750, which boasts 3,550Nm of torque, starts this month and will be available as a 4x2, 6x2 and 6x4 tractor in RHD for 44-tonne work and above. For heavy-haulage up to 120-tonnes gcw, it can operate with the I-Shift auto-box.

Holland alloy
What is it about forged fifth wheels that UK operators don't like? Whatever the historic or operational reason, SAF Holland hopes its US-manufactured and supplied forged aluminium fifth-wheel, with grease-free top-skid inserts, could help break down that resistance. Offering savings of 35 to 70kg, it's clearly aimed at bulk operators looking for every last kilo of payload.

Coming to the UK next year, via selected DAF dealers, the TATRA Phoenix all-wheel-drive range of two-, three- and four-axle, heavy-duty, on/off-road rigids features DAF CF85 cabs and Euro-5 MX engines atop the Czech-truck maker's trademark tubular chassis, in place of a conventional ladder frame. Driven-axles, equipped with either air or mechanical suspension (or both), hang off a centre spine, while split differentials, with separate crown wheels and shafts, provide direct-drive to all wheels.

This U500 Unimog with Arvel Snow-Tec plough and demountable gritter-pack features all-wheel-drive steering, which is now available as a factory option. Command electronics and hydrostatic steering components have been developed and provided by UK Unimog specialist South Cave Tractors. Steering rear-axle has hydro-mechanical locking mechanism and is derived from existing driven front-axle. System uses electronic potentiometers to ensure correct steering angles front and rear.

Brian Weatherley

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Related Companies
AHM Products SL
Chereau UK Ltd
DAF Trucks Ltd
Libner CISM S.A.
Mercedes-Benz UK Ltd
Mitsubishi Fuso Trucks Europe
SAF France
Tecnokar Trailers SRL

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