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Bonneted heavies: do North American truckers need them?

26th April 2012, Page 13
26th April 2012
Page 13
Page 13, 26th April 2012 — Bonneted heavies: do North American truckers need them?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

WILL NORTH American heavy-duty truck buyers, at some point in the not-too-distant future, be weaned off their addiction to bonnets? It used to be said that drivers liked the idea of a heavy chunk of engine between them and the accident.

In any case, North American legislation imposes no overall length restriction on articulated rigs – only on semi-trailers. So there is no incentive to reduce tractor length, hence the widespread attachment of what amounts to ‘living room’ rearward cab extensions.

It cannot be denied, however, that the progressive refinement of European forward-control heavy trucks has reached the point where American truck drivers, when given the chance to get behind the wheel, are astonished at their overall sophistication, smoothness of ride, quietness and handling precision. Furthermore, today’s high floored flagship models suffer no engine intrusion into the cab space.

A truck driver from Europe, on the other hand, given the opportunity to drive a bonneted US truck, is apt to express dismay at the inferior handling and, probably, the dated ambience of the cab.

Given that scenario, it seems probable that sooner rather than later a class 8 US truck builder, most likely Daimler or Volvo, will attempt to introduce minimally-adapted variants of its advanced European market into North America. Apart from anything else, a heavy truck that was acceptable anywhere in the world, including the US and Canada, would be hugely attractive in R&D and production rationalisation terms.

Alan Bunting Harpenden, Herts

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