Should the Six-wheeler be Subsidized '
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WITFI reference to the article in the issue of The Commercial Motor for October 19th, dealing with the demonstration of the six-wheelers on Chobham Ridges by the War Department, and to the editorial article in the same issue pointing to the * ambition of the Royal Army Service Corps to create a commercial reserve of medium rigid six-wheeled vehicles for war purposes, the directors of John L Thornycroft and Co., Ltd., have favoured us with their views on the subject of this reserve. It would appear, they say, that the general opinion in this Country, where the roads are good in comparison with those overseas, is that a very attractive subsidy proposal will have to be put up by the War Department if there is to be any hope of making this scheme a success. Following the recent demonstration, it is, obviously, very desirable that the War Department should have a reserve of vehicles of this type for immediate service.
Whether any subsidy scheme that is put into force will create the desired commercial: reserve is very doubtful, and it would seem, therefore, that any stock of vehicles that the War Department has should be entirely composed of vehicles of the rigid-frame sixwheel type, drawing all their requirements for fourwheel machines from civilian service.
As demonstrated by the six-wheeled chassis which took part in the recent demonstration, a very useful six-wheeled machine can be built from the main components of a subsidy chassis, and, if there is to be a six-wheeler subsidy, it would seem desirable that the War Department should draft their six-wheel specification so as to provide for the incorporation in it of as many units as possible now in the four-wheel 30-cwt. specification. Then, should the subsidy scheme for rigid-frame six-wheelers not materialize, or prove ineffective, it would be possible for the Department to call in all the 30-cwt. type subsidy machines and the numerous other vehicles built up of the same components, and rebuild them as rigid-frame six-_ wheelers.
Should the present subsidy arrangement be transferred to the rigid-frame six-wheeler chassis it may not be sufficiently attractive to make it a success. This would point to the desirability of the War Department continuing the subsidy scheme as at present, as a reserve of vehicles suitable for conversion would be preferable to no reserve at all; and, coupling with this the purchase of six-wheeled vehicles up to the limit of available funds, this scheme would appear to operate fairly as regards those manufacturers who have already produced subsidy vehicles, which are necessarily more costly to manufacture than chassis built for a 30-cwt. net load which have not to comply with the present subsidy specification.
In these days, when the export trade Is of such vital concern to the country, anything that the "War Department can do to help manufacturers in this country is of the greatest importance.
In Messrs. Thornycroft's opinion, there will be a very big call overseas for a vehicle which is capable of transporting 30 cwt. to 2 tons across country without made roads and, which is capable of speeds up to 25 miles per hour on good roads with an increased load of 1 ton.
There is no doubt that the American manufacturers will not be long behind this country in producing such a vehicle, and Messrs. Thornycroft think that it will be a great mistake if the War Department make their proposed subsidy specification of 'rigid-frame sixwheelers of such a nature as to demand a machine of such high performance that the chassis will be too high in price to meet American and Continental competition.