Take me to your Leader
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by John Kendall • Seddon Atkinson launches its Leader municipal/urban delivery chassis with low entry cab and central driving position at IRTE in Telford this week. Powered by Cummins C Series engines, the chassis will be available initially as a 4x2 and 6x4. Lift axle 6x2 and rear-steer variants will he available later in the year. An 5x4 model will be considered too if there is enough demand.
'Fhe low-entry cab is pitched both at municipal and urban delivery' operators. Access is via pneumatically operated folding doors, which open inwards. This is to ease operation on narrow, obstructed streets. A proximity sensor prevents the doors from opening if anyone is standing inside the cab in their way.
Day and crew-cab variants will be available. The day cab offers seating for three with the central driver flanked by two seats. Crew cabs offer five seats with the crew seated four in a row high-up behind the driver. The back of the centre two seats drops down to form a table and gives access to a hanging locker for wet gear etc. All seats are fitted with seatbelts—lap belts for the crew and an integral lap and diagonal belt for the driver. Drop-down safety rails are also fitted in front of the crew seats.
The unusual design with centrally mounted steering position means that Seddon Atkinson
can sell the Leader in left-hand drive markets without the need to develop left-hand drive versions. It also offers crew access from both sides of the cab. Instruments and all major controls are mounted in the dashboard console. This includes the electronically operated gear selector and handbrake lever. Although the radio is mounted above the windscreen, a remote control stalk is fitted to the steering column.
The cab was designed in conjunction with Jack Allen and is derived from the 13ritannia mark 11. Behind it, the chassis is pure Pacer municipal chassis. However, the cooling pack is mounted on the nearside behind the cab as the low mounting means there is no space to fit the radiators at the front of the cab. Cooling fans are hydraulically driven.
Although the cab has been developed with Jack Allen, Seddon Atkinson will offer the Leader with any body required by an operator.
Available from the launch will be the Leader 245 4x2 17tonne chassis powered by the Cummins C245 engine and the Leader 280 26-tonne 6x4 chassis with the higher-rated Cummins C280 engine. The 4x2 chassis will have a 4.1m wheelbase and the 6x4 will measure 4.7m to the centre of the rear bogie.
Seddon Atkinson has already taken 60 orders for the Leader, seen as the first fruits of Iveco's 10-year investment plan in the company. Field trials have been carried out with at least two
local authorities. Its launch follows the arrival of low-entry refuse chassis from Marshall Specialist Vehicles and Partek Cargotek —first seen three months ago (CM 13-19 February). With Dennis Eagle established in the low-entry chassis market, there is now a choice of three. Seddon Atkinson believes it can offer better back-up than its competitors with a larger dealer network.
Although the chassis has drawn interest from Seddon Atkinson's traditional municipal operators, the company believes the Leader will also appeal to operators on urban distribution work. The low entry cab could appeal to brewery operators, parcels companies and retail distributors. The driving position places the driver on eye level with pedestrians and makes the vehicle less aggressive.
We drove the chassis briefly around Seddon Atkinson's Oldham factory. The central driving position and high screen are an odd sensation for a conventional truck driver. Long range mirrors each side improve all-round visibility and drivers should find it easy to get used to the driving position after a few hours behind the wheel. Seddon Atkinson will offer driver training for all Leader operators.
The control layout is hard to fault with the gear selector on the left and handbrake to the right. Instruments are dead ahead and switches grouped on either side of the steering column.
The Leader takes the low entry cab concept a stage further than its competitors with the central driving position and inward opening doors offering added flexibility. Seddon Atkinson expects to build around 100 chassis in its first year.
El Seddon Atkinson will also launch a new road sweeper chassis at IRTE, In addition, the company will launch two further vehicle ranges this year.