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Volvo and Scania in power play

Swedish truck makers Scania and Volvo are the only two truck makers in the world to offer models with 700hp and more


In the big scheme of things, trucks with 700hp (522kW) and more are a tiny portion of the global heavy-duty truck market. Even in our country, where there’s probably the greatest requirement and possibly the most justification for 700hp-plus than any other region in the world, sales are scant.

Nonetheless, Swedish giants Scania and Volvo have historically hammered each other for power primacy. Whether it’s driven by the desire for a marketing edge, or a haughty case of corporate idealism, or simply bragging rights as the maker of the world’s most powerful production truck, the pursuit of power has been for many decades a defining factor in each brand’s battle for supremacy.

The Swedes are, after all, the only two truck makers in the world to offer models with 700hp and more, and as things stand at the moment, Scania’s new R770 has taken a comfortable lead over Volvo’s FH750 as king of the muscle men.

Mack Super-Liner on roadtrain work in Queensland. There’s speculation a 750 rating, and maybe more, is being considered for the bulldog flagship

The question now is: ‘Will Volvo keep the contest going?’ History and corporate pride say it will, eventually!

But perhaps not in the form we might expect.

Volvo’s 16-litre FH750 displaced Scania’s former R730 as the world’s most powerful production truck a decade ago but, in Australia, Scania’s big banger at least made a name for itself in various applications, including several ultra-heavy roles.

On the other hand, while Volvo’s 750 has been celebrated in Europe and attracted a small following in New Zealand, the model has barely rated a mention in our neck of the woods, due mainly to cooling issues at high gross weights in the hot and hostile environments where such extravagant outputs are usually destined to work.

RELATED ARTICLE: Scania R770 talks the torque

Consequently, the FH750’s capacity for heavy haulage work in Australia has been limited from the start, hamstrung by the protection of a ridiculously light gross combination mass (GCM) rating.

Still, over the years, there have been a number of engineering attempts to make the 750 suitable for our heavy haulage conditions, including the fitment of a secondary radiator. But all to no avail, apparently.

Yesterday’s hero. Scania R730, pipped a decade ago by Volvo’s FH750 as the world’s most powerful production truck. But unlike the R730, Volvo’s biggest banger hasn’t coped with Australia’s heat

However, since the advent of Scania’s R770, there have been whispers of a renewed attempt to make the 16-litre 750 a viable member of Volvo Group Australia’s (VGA) stable. But this time around, there’s speculation that the most likely and practical recipient of the 750 rating will not be the Volvo FH, but Mack’s all-purpose Super-Liner.

Whether that’s the case or not remains to be seen, but right now the whispers are certainly consistent that there’s more opportunity to keep the 750 cool under the snout of a Mack than the cab of a Volvo.

Perhaps the bigger question, however, is if Volvo will be content to leave its big bore D16 engine at 750hp (559kW) or bravely push it to more than 770hp (574kW) simply to knock Scania off its perch?

Whatever, the power play between these two Swedish giants is probably far from finished.

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