Orange future 04 June 2014

Millbrook Proving Ground was the venue for customers and press to see DAF's latest Euro 6 trucks line-up. Brian Weatherley reports

"Normal service" for truck registrations should be resumed by this autumn, according to DAF Trucks UK managing director Ray Ashworth – though he believes manufacturers won't see the full effect of returning sales until early next year. His comments – made at DAF's Millbrook Euro 6 customer event – follow the unprecedented spike in registrations last December as operators rushed to acquire Euro 5 trucks to avoid paying for more expensive Euro 6 chassis. SMMT figures show that UK registrations have since collapsed.

Why the delay? While tractor registrations are likely to rise from this summer, rigid chassis won't. "People don't really buy in July or August: they start in September," asserts Ashworth. "Then, with an eight-week [build] lead-time you're into November and, if you need a body that's another four weeks. Are you going to register a truck in December? No, it will be January."

Indeed, Ashworth believes that the truck market early next year will see another distortion – albeit not quite as marked as that arising out of Euro 6. Last year, UK CV registrations above 3.5 tonnes rose 23% to 56,218 units, driven by that phenomenon. "We did over 3,000 registrations [in December], where normally we'd do about 1,000," confirms Ashworth. He now expects the 2014 market for trucks above six tonnes to finish at around 36,000 units, settling at nearer 42,000 longer term.

And there's another perturbation beyond Euro 6, albeit not on the same scale. Ashworth observes that DAF is "getting a lot of questions" from operators on WVTA (Whole Vehicle Type Approval). "We've run a number of bodybuilder seminars at both Leyland and Thame. We do have a benefit with our own factory-built [Paccar] bodies, since they are already type approved. The majority of box and curtainsiders we build on our own chassis. But there's a lot of disturbance in the market, in particular [with] smaller bodybuilders as the October deadline approaches."

What about the trucks themselves? With its latest Euro 6 range based on the existing cab, Ashworth expects the Dutch truck maker's replacement cycle to match the EU's timing for longer 'aero-nose' trucks from 2020 to help reduce CO2 emissions. "Our plan was to invest in Euro 6 with existing cab technology, and to get the best out of what we have," confirms Ashworth. "After that, the plan was always a new cab generation – so [the EU decision] has played into our hands."

As for the rest, visitors to Milbrook saw the full range of LF, CF and XF Euro 6 trucks – with two- and three-axle CF and XF tractor unit, including the CF440 lightweight mid-lift FTP 6x2, for tankers and bulk tippers. The latter is powered by the new MX-11 10.8-litre engine (delivering 440bhp), which is 180kg lighter and 3% more fuel efficient than the MX-13 12.9-litre engine, available at up to 510bhp for heavier-duty applications.

LF is available in 7.5-, 12- and 18-tonne gvw variants, equipped with Paccar bodies, which are additinally fitted on the CF at 18 tonnes gvw, with box and curtainsiders also available. DAF has also upgraded its CF 8x4 tippers, with an on-road version and a new construction variant in 6x4 and 8x4 rigid format, and a 6x4 tractor. The construction trucks are built for high ground clearance and approach angle to suit on-off road applications such as muck-away.

On a point of detail, DAF has revised its electronic DIP (Driver Information Panel) oil level display on CF and XF trucks. Whereas previously, if insufficient time had been allowed for oil to return to the sump, the driver was shown a 'Data Not Available' message, now the DIP displays the last reading – oil level along with date and mileage.

Brian Weatherley

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