New Freightliner ready for Australian roads

Freightliner's new hero truck, the Coronado, makes its public debut in Melbourne

New Freightliner ready for Australian roads
New Freightliner ready for Australian roads
By Gary Worrall | December 2, 2010

Freightliner’s new hero truck the Coronado enjoyed its full public debut in Melbourne on Wednesday, with a media preview of the new model.

Held at the picturesque Flemington racecourse in central Melbourne, the Coronado launch is the first in a series of new or updated Freightliners arriving down under over the next 18 months.

As well as showcasing the new cab design, the Coronado also marks the return of Cummins power, in addition to the in-house Detroit Diesel DD15 engine, to the Freightliner truck range after it was deleted at the end of 2007.

The Coronado is available in two specifications, the standard highway or a stronger SD (Severe Duty) specification with better suspension and heavy duty chassis for applications of up to 140 tonnes.

The cabs range from a bunk-less day cab through to a 58-inch raised roof sleeper that will allow even the tallest driver to stand upright.

Despite the apparent bulk of the Coronado, Daimler Trucks executive Caro Beltrame says the tare weights are comparatively low due to a mix of lightweight – yet strong – components.

These include a one-piece fibreglass bonnet, which is also easier to maintain than a metal version. The cab structure uses aluminium where possible with the cab design passing the tough ECE-29 crashworthiness test.

While there is no escaping the Cummins or Detroit Diesel powerplants nestled between the chassis rails, even the engine fitment is designed to make the truck more user-friendly.

Rod Bartolo, a senior engineer on the Coronado project, says the chassis rails are splayed to allow the fitment of a 1900 square-inch radiator without forcing the cab to be mounted any higher.

While the cab is raised 50mm, this gap is used to tunnel hot air out of the engine bay and away from the sleeper cab to provide a cooler rest and relaxation area.

Steering feel and responsiveness is also boosted courtesy of twin steering boxes, one for each front wheel, which also lessens the effort needed to tip the Coronado into the turns.

The cab floor is also flat, with no engine or transmission tunnel for drivers to negotiate when moving around the cab.
The interior fit exudes an air of quality, with operators choosing between hardwearing vinyls or cloth trims depending on the working environment.

Drivers will enjoy the air-suspended EzyRider II seat, while the steering wheel is adjustable for height and reach, ensuring a clear view of the instrument panel, which makes use of large analogue-style gauges for ease of viewing.

Beltrame says an annual sales target of "300 plus" is not beyond the "realm of possibility" for the Coronado.

Daimler Trucks boss Ken Matthews says the total Freightliner sales per year is the initial target, with the goal of recapturing the market share lost following the closure of the Sterling brand.

Part of this plan is the introduction of a Coronado rigid 6x4 as a replacement for the Sterling 9600, with more Freightliner models arriving over the next 18 months.

Linfox is the first major fleet to sign on the dotted line for the Coronado, with 50 units ordered for road train operations in South Australia and Western Australia.

A Linfox spokesman says the trucks will be used to service jobs in the resources sector, where the company is finding its work is "expanding".

Although the final specification of the truck is not known, Beltrame says the SD version uses Hendrickson Primaax suspension, with all trucks using either Road Ranger 18-speed manual or the Eaton AutoShift with SmartShift paddles. However, these will not be available until 2011.

For the full story of the new Freightliner Coronado, see the January edition of ATN magazine

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