Snapped! T410 and T360 break cover

By: Steve Brooks


The assembly of DAF trucks on the same production line as Kenworth also marks the start of a $37 million expansion program for Paccar Australia and its highly acclaimed Bayswater manufacturing facility. And if that’s not enough to keep the competition on its toes, we can exclusively reveal first details of Kenworth’s new T410 and T360 models

Snapped! T410 and T360 break cover
Snapped. First prototypes of the upcoming T410 and T360 stick their noses out of the Bayswater factory for the first time.

 

Blank the brain for a few seconds and you can almost hear the purists moaning in protest: "DAF being built on the same line as Kenworth? Never! No way! Can’t happen!"

Well, they can moan all they like because not only can it happen, it is happening, and there are none happier about it than the people of Paccar Australia. At every level, from the factory floor to the executive echelons and sales teams within both the company and its influential dealer group, the optimism was almost palpable as the first DAF assembled at Paccar’s Bayswater (Vic) manufacturing plant recently rolled off the line.

Physically, DAF joins the production line at that point where the engine is slotted into the chassis. More to the point though, the sight of a CF cab – for now, the CF85 model is the only DAF being assembled at Bayswater – being lowered onto a typically European riveted chassis, right behind the making of a ‘big cab’ Kenworth K200, hammered home the realisation that the long-serving Bayswater facility has entered an entirely new era.

Indeed, if things go the way Paccar confidently expects, locally-assembled DAFs will emerge in ever increasing numbers as the Dutch truck progressively undergoes homegrown modifications and specification tweaks, all aimed at making the DAF better equipped and significantly more appealing for Australian conditions.

In fact, such is Paccar’s confidence that the Bayswater facility is set to undergo a vast evolutionary expansion over the next three years. As Paccar Australia managing director Andrew Hadjikakou proudly explains, a $37 million investment in the Bayswater plant has been approved by Paccar Inc, giving the green light to a massive make-over, which will effectively double the physical footprint of the facility and see the installation of advanced robotics to not only enhance production efficiencies, but significantly bolster capacity to meet expected increases in demand for both DAF and Kenworth models.

In Australia’s otherwise beleaguered automotive industry, Paccar’s commitment and confidence in local production confirms the rare belief and fortitude of a very small, very successful band of local truck makers.

Meantime, and as much as it may go against the grain for some dedicated Kenworth disciples, the simple reality is that DAF has far greater potential for growth than its illustrious counterpart, and Paccar principals know it better than anyone. As a senior executive recently remarked in quiet conversation: "Kenworth currently has around 20 per cent of the heavy-duty market. DAF has little more than three per cent. It’s not hard to figure out which of the two has more room to grow."

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UNDER DEVELOPMENT

But let’s take a few steps back: it was in the last days of 2017 after a candid interview with Hadjikakou, when we first broke the news that DAF would be assembled at the Bayswater plant from August 2018 onwards. Plans were already well advanced and by June this year the first of three prototype production units was edging its way down the line.

Yet back then, news of Paccar’s plans to assemble DAFs at Bayswater was almost secondary to a more immediate event: production of the 60,000th locally-built Kenworth, with a special presentation in front of Paccar’s entire Bayswater workforce and invited guests. That truck was a new T610 model bought by high-profile haulage company and long-term Kenworth supporter, Wickham Freight Lines.

Fatefully, however, it was a blunt question born from a similar event a few weeks earlier that perhaps spurred Andrew Hadjikakou into first admitting to a well-advanced program to assemble DAFs at Bayswater. "If Volvo and Mack can be built together in the same factory, why can’t Paccar do the same with Kenworth and DAF at Bayswater?" he was asked.

Thoughtful for a few moments, a smiling Hadjikakou replied: "Funny you should ask, because that’s exactly what we’re doing."

With the cat out of the bag and obviously keen to lay a few facts on the table, a jubilant Hadjikakou continued: "The local assembly of DAF trucks has been a discussion point within Paccar for the last few years, particularly as we’ve started to see our DAF volumes increase.

"Local assembly provides us with opportunities to develop higher levels of customisation in areas such as chassis lengths, fuel and AdBlue capacities, different suspension options, and other elements to further our commitment to meeting customer demands and the specific requirements of Australian applications."

He eagerly acknowledged that Paccar Australia had mounted a strong case for Bayswater to join factories in the Netherlands, UK, Belgium and Brazil to become just the fifth DAF assembly or production facility in the world. Nor did he refute the suggestion that DAF volumes through Bayswater will be miniscule in comparison to European plants in particular.

Even so, it was a decidedly upbeat Hadjikakou who said approval for DAF assembly at Bayswater was not only a major initiative by Paccar and a good thing for DAF in this country, but "a great indication of the foresight and faith of our parent company, to invest in DAF’s future here, utilising the skills and facilities of Baywaster and its people".

According to several sources, the inherent versatility of the Bayswater facility also allowed DAF to be merged into the production process for relatively small cost. What’s more, the economic benefits of local assembly over the importation of fully built-up units is said to be considerable, given that assembly kits for up to eight trucks can be packed into just five containers.

"It makes perfect sense to do this … to employ the skills and quality workmanship of our employees and further utilise the world-class engineering and production facilities of our Bayswater plant," Hadjikakou said when announcing the decision late last year.

Then and now, he doesn’t shy from mentioning that Paccar has been building trucks at Bayswater for 47 years, and given the contribution of DAF assembly to the factory’s viability, it will continue to build trucks "for at least the next 47 years".

Planned or otherwise, completion of the three-year expansion program will almost certainly coincide with the 50th anniversary of truck production at Bayswater.

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BIG PLANS

It generally takes something highly significant, even momentous, for Paccar to ‘go public’ with a particular initiative or a notable milestone; in recent times, something like the introduction of a hallmark new model such as the T610 or the notching of the 60,000th Australian-built Kenworth.

Or, as Paccar sees it, a historic moment marking the first DAF truck assembled in Australia.

Likewise, it’s usually a prominent and loyal customer who gets to share the limelight, which, in the case of the first Bayswater-built DAF, was well-known Victorian company, Cahill Transport.

Headquartered at Laverton in Melbourne’s truck-centric west, brothers Dan and Michael Cahill (pictured below, left to right) are the third generation of a proud family-owned entity with a vibrant history in the freight business and an undeniably strong association with Paccar.

Kenworth has figured in the company’s linehaul operations for several decades, and speaking at a hand-over ceremony inside the Bayswater plant in front of around 1,200 factory staff, managers, dealers and invited guests, including two high-ranking executives from DAF’s European headquarters, an animated Michael Cahill made no secret of Kenworth’s ‘Australian made’ attributes as a major factor in their liking for the brand.

He was, however, also quick to emphasise that DAF has become a prominent part of an increasingly diverse Cahill operation, which has taken delivery of around 60 units at various times, from LF rigids to the XF flagship, but most notably, the versatile CF model.

"We were happy to put our hand up for the first Australian-built DAF," Michael confirmed.

As the best-selling model in the DAF range, it’s easy to understand why the CF85 is initially the only model to be assembled at Bayswater. Right now, local assembly of other models remains a work-in-progress according to Paccar insiders, but as a resolute Michael Cahill predicted at the handover: "The floodgates will open for DAF in Australia now they’re locally built.

"Paccar’s commitment in this is obvious, vital and quite simply, amazing," he asserted.

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LOOKING AHEAD

Away from the celebrations, it was a serious Hadjikakou who explains that confidence in the growth potential of DAF was one of several powerful motives for Paccar’s $37 million investment in the Bayswater plant. Obviously, powers-that-be at Paccar headquarters in Seattle share a similar confidence.

To achieve that growth, however, Bayswater needs more capacity.

"Not just in production, but also in warehousing," he comments. "Expansion will allow us to bring most of our production materials in-house rather than stored off-site."

Asked about future plans, specifically the likelihood of assembling DAF’s XF105 flagship at Bayswater, a cautious Hadjikakou confirms that while the 6x4 CF85 will remain the only locally-assembled model for the moment, the XF is certainly under consideration.

He agrees that local assembly also opens opportunities for a range of specification ‘adjustments’. Whether those ‘adjustments’ go as far as pushing the XF’s current power peak from 380kW to, say, 447kW with a Cummins X15 engine, remains to be seen. It was, however, a forthright Hadjikakou who says that while such a change is not out of the question, there are many practical issues (not least, electrics) that would first need to be overcome.

Further afield, DAF recently unveiled a 395kW Euro 6 version of the Paccar MX-13 engine at the Hanover truck show in Germany.

It’s not yet known when it might be offered here in either DAF or the much anticipated, and decidedly different, T410 model, due towards the end of the first quarter next year.

Smart money, however, would be on the higher rating’s local introduction in both brands within the next year or so.


Perfect match of Paccar and Kenworth. Read more, here


 

KENWORTH EVOLUTION

While growth plans for DAF were a strong motivation for major expansion at Bayswater, Kenworth is at the core of Paccar profitability and make no mistake, advanced production processes for the market-leading brand are top of the agenda in the factory’s comprehensive development program.

High on the heap is the installation of advanced robotics to enhance production of the wider 2.1 metre cab on the T610, the upcoming T410 and T360 models, and sooner or later, the wider cab’s inclusion on the iconic T9.

According to Hadjikakou: "The final extent of robotics is still being determined, but the changes and the efficiencies they provide will be extraordinary."

Since its launch just two years ago, success of the T610 has been outstanding, now surpassing the T909 as Kenworth’s most popular conventional, and running a very close second to the K200 cab-over as the top-selling model in the range.

"It is a great truck and the market obviously sees it that way," says a satisfied Hadjikakou.

Even so, T610 hasn’t been without some teething issues. "But we were quick to get on top of those things," he asserts, promptly adding that lessons learned with the 610 have been duly implemented in its inevitable siblings, the T410 and T360.

It’s early days for the two new models, and at the time of this report, only two of the eight pre-production units destined for durability assessment and validation had been built.

Still, first details are now coming to light and apart from the widely applauded wider cab, the new models also sport redesigned lights and hoods, improved entry/exit to the cab, and critically, revised dimensions in a number of areas. Visually, the newcomers are easily identified by less glittering grille surrounds than the T610.

Additionally, says Paccar Australia director of product planning, Ross Cureton, both the T360 and T410 have a cab floor 75mm (3 inches) lower than the T610.

Yet, whereas the T410 retains a 112-inch (2,845mm) bumper to back-of-cab dimension (BBC), Ross explains the cab on the T360 has been pushed forward to create a short 106-inch (2,692mm) BBC compared to the 110-inch (2,794mm) of the existing T359 model.

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VOCATIONAL MOVES

Powered by the choice of a Cummins 6.7-litre ISB or 8.9-litre ISL engine in front of manual, automated or automatic transmissions, the T360 will obviously continue to target construction applications, primarily in 8x4 and 10x4 configurations. Of course, it’s also available in 4x2 and 6x4 prime mover layouts.

Furthermore, Ross remarks, concrete agitator applications remain an important part of the mix for the T3, and engineers continue to work closely with concrete specialists in an ongoing bid to improve stability with a range of developments aimed at lowering the centre of gravity.

The biggest news of all, however, is on the T410’s use of what Kenworth insists is an all-Paccar engine and transmission combination.

Put simply, that means there is no Cummins option in the T410, notably the much-discussed and incredibly perky X12. The word from many sources is that Paccar principals in the US simply won’t allow the lightweight and lively 12-litre Cummins to compete with their own MX-13 engine, or in time to come, its 10.8-litre MX-11 stablemate. And fair enough, perhaps, given Paccar’s massive investment in its MX engine program.

Consequently, the 410 is only available with the Paccar MX-13 engine at up to 510hp, driving through what Paccar labels as its own 12-speed automated transmission. Call it what they like though, the 12-speed box is unquestionably a rebranded and suitably tailored version of Eaton’s advanced Endurant transmission already in use in North America.

However, as Ross Cureton was keen to point out, one of the most significant features of the MX-13 in the T410 is the engine’s change to a 12-volt electrical system. In current T4 installations, the MX runs a 24 volt system adapted to the truck’s 12-volt electrical architecture.

Moreover, he says modifying the MX-13 to a 12-volt platform was done specifically for the Australian market by engineers at DAF headquarters in the Netherlands.

"It’s no easy thing to do, but they did it, because they know we needed it. I think it goes to show just how serious they are about satisfying the needs of our market," Cureton concludes.

It certainly seems so. More than ever.

THE CAB-OVER QUESTION

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For now, and perhaps many years to come, Kenworth’s K-series cab-over won’t be going anywhere. Now the only US cab-over on the Australian market, ongoing success seems more assured than ever.

In fact, and despite its absence from the US market for several decades, the K-series in its super-successful K200 configuration remains the premier model for the premier brand in Australia’s linehaul freight industry.

The way things are today, it would be commercial suicide to replace it with, say, DAF’s XF105.

But these are changing times and there’s no escaping the fact that DAF is Paccar Inc’s global cab-over platform, and for that reason alone, any form of cab-over development outside Australia will be centred entirely on DAF. Not Kenworth!

So, when it comes to the seemingly ageless K-series, Paccar Australia is well and truly on its own.

Fortunately, the skill of local engineers and the production versatility of the Bayswater manufacturing facility will, as they have for decades past, continue to not just keep K-series alive, but keep it alive and well and prosperous.

But as sure as the sun rises and sets, the day will come when, despite all the groans and gripes of K-series fans across the length and breadth of the country, economic and production viabilities will conspire with engineering evolution and technological innovation, and maybe even corporate idealism, to end the life of one of the most enduring models to ever grace heavy-duty road transport, anywhere.

Ultimately, the only cab-over successor for Paccar Australia is DAF.

But don’t hold your breath. It could be a while!

 

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