Saturday 17 November 2018

Scania shows off urban truck range

Global trends, including the rapid rise of city populations and concerns about local air quality, road safety and carbon emissions, have driven the last phase of Scania’s range renewal, which began last year with the launch of the R and S long-haul trucks.

Meeting these challenges will require alternative delivery models; Scania points to a so-called Logistics Hotel in Paris, which takes bulk deliveries by rail or river from outside the city, then breaks them down into individual consignments for the final journey by gas truck.

It will also require alternative power (Scania has developed engines capable of running on HVO, FAME, bio-ethanol and gas) and 24-hour service (even in Stockholm, which appears relatively uncongested to English eyes, a truck that can do 10 deliveries a shift in daytime can do 17 at night) without waking the neighbours.

Such considerations were key in the development of Scania’s Urban range: which includes a Cummins-derived, SCR-only seven-litre, six-cylinder engine, a low-entry L cab, and larger engines modified to run on alternative fuels including gas and bio-ethanol. Hybrid and full electric drivelines are in development, and there is an emphasis on quiet operation to allow out-of-hours deliveries.

The manufacturer, which is probably second only to Mercedes-Benz in taking pride in its vertically-integrated designs, obviously thought long and hard before deciding to approach Cummins to supply core engines to fill the space at the bottom end of its range. Current Scania engines are based on a modular design with key dimensions shared across the range and capacity varied by using five, six or eight cylinders, and this advantage would be lost if a new small engine was developed from scratch.

Cummins is already a long-term technical partner with the VW subsidiary, supplying turbochargers and being co-developers of the XPI fuel-injection system.

Using the Cummins-based engine (it shares its block with the Cummins-built Paccar PX-7 engine found in the DAF LF as well as the Cummins ISBe found in numerous buses and other applications) saves 360 kg from the weight of the lightest all-Scania engine: the nine-litre DC09 five-pot that tips the scales at 960 kg.

The horsepower ratings actually over-lap between the two engine families: the DC07 has outputs of 220, 250 and 280 hp, while the nine-litre runs from 280 to 360 hp.

The DC07 engine differs from that used in the DAF in significant ways, including a fixed-geometry wastegated turbo and an SCR-only emissions control system. Scania’s own ECU and electronic programming are also used. Outputs from the Scania are lower: the Paccar PX-7 ranges from 234 to 325 hp.

A drive around the Scania factory test track in a 220 hp-powered P-cab ‘distribution’ 4×2 with a box body was a novel experience, this being the least powerful Scania that your author has ever driven. The little 7-litre engine coped manfully with what suddenly seemed like large gaps between the eight ratios in the Scania Opticruise automated gearbox, but the big bonus was the extra room in the cab: thanks to the smaller engine, the flatter floor from the G-cab can be used. Interior and exterior noise is low, and vision from the cab, which was augmented by a kerb-view door, excellent.

We also drove a P-cab tractor unit featuring the nine-litre 320 hp engine, which was coupled to a single-axle steered urban semi-trailer. The cab felt a bit more cramped than on the seven-litre version: the larger engine means a higher central hump in the floor; but the extra power and torque of the bigger five-pot engine was noticeable.

Like the previous truck driven, this features a fully-automatic parking brake: stationary, the truck in indefinite ‘hill hold’ mode until the engine is switched off, the cab door opened or the seatbelt unfastened, at which time the parking brake proper is applied.

The brake releases automatically when a forward or reverse gear is selected and throttle applied. As such, it’s pretty much idiot-proof: at least until the idiot gets into another vehicle which lacks this feature.

There was much interest in the new L-cab: the low entry vehicle which Scania hopes will not just appear as a dust-cart chassis, but will also find a role as a dedicated urban distribution and even construction vehicle.

Currently this is only available with the nine-litre engine, although it is an open secret that a seven-litre installation is on its way. In dustcart guise, the L-cab chassis features an Allison automatic transmission and the possibility of an additional pair of passenger seats on the engine hump (if the optional high roof is specified), from which a first-class view of the cab header rail is available.

The Allison serves as a reminder of how good Scania’s Opticruise automated manual transmission is, the American-designed fully-automatic box displaying a bit of lag in getting the vehicle underway by comparison. However, its proven durability in stop-start operation and the automatic retarder combined with the ability to run a variety of PTO-driven equipment like bin-lifts and compactors make its fitment virtually essential in this market niche.

Driving an L-cab 4×2 distribution truck with the 280 engine and Opticruise gearbox is a bit like driving a bus: the steer-axle is well behind the driver and the cantilever effect of the rear-set front air suspension can easily be felt both as the vehicle raises itself from its ‘kneeling’ position when parked, and when crossing surface undulations. It’s a little strange at first, and driving in cluttered urban environments requires some thought due to the extended front overhang and potentially reduced ground clearance. This is compensated for by the lower driving position, which gives a better view of the cab’s immediate environs.

The biggest advantage, though, is ease of entry and egress: it’s a walk-in, walk-out cab which makes it ideal for multidrops. Cross-cab access is slightly less impressive, but a change to the seven-litre engine with its lower hump will no doubt cure that.

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