Scania’s New Generation model
After a decade-long development process, Scania’s new flagship model has arrived to stir up the heavy-duty truck market. Prime Mover had an exclusive first look at the new range.
It’s safe to say Scania didn’t cut corners when re-developing the company’s flagship heavy-duty range, which was unveiled in Paris at the end of August. Ten years of work and more than 200 billion Swedish crowns (ca. A$3 billion) went into the project, demonstrating just how serious the Swedish OEM is about making the new top model a global success.
As a result, the ‘New Generation’ must be appreciated as a complete redesign and not just a product update, Scania says, even though it does build on the brand’s current, globally successful heavy-duty line-up.
After an exclusive first test in Sweden, Prime Mover is able to confirm that there are only few areas on the new range that have not been subjected to the attention of the 3,500 Scania research and development staff in Sweden. Virtually every component – from the cab itself through to the Opticruise transmission – has undergone some change, most often with a strong focus on safety.
The result is impressive: Scania claims to have achieved a five per cent cut in fuel consumption over the current line-up, with three per cent owing to mechanical and electronic revisions and two per cent attributed to improved aerodynamic performance. What’s more, lowering the centre of gravity by repositioning the front axle lower and 50mm further forward has improved stability, too, with a bonus contribution to braking performance.
Speaking of which, all long haul Scania trucks are now equipped with larger brake chambers on the front disc brakes. Regardless of whether the driver or the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system is in charge, the new top model should thus achieve a five per cent shorter braking distance over the last generation. That means if the previous model took 40m to stop, the new one can now come to a halt in 38m – a reduction that can make a significant difference for the safety of all road users.
In an industry first, the next generation Scania can also be ordered with roll-over side curtain airbags for both driver and passenger. According to the OEM, European statistics show that 45 per cent of driver fatalities occur in rollover accidents, so the introduction of the new airbags is expected to reduce the risk by up to 25 per cent. On top of that, seat belt pre-tensioners, steering wheel airbags and an energy-absorbing steering column are meant to help create a ‘cell of safety’ around the people inside the cab.
Next to safety, driver comfort has been a key focus when designing the new ‘S’ cab. For example, the range of adjustment options of the driver’s seat has been increased so that all drivers between 150cm and 200cm should be able to achieve a comfortable position.
Optional rotating seats are also available to enhance the ‘living room’ ambience of the new cab, which is further improved by a new, perfectly flat floor. Additional insulation has also been incorporated to assist in keeping the temperature steady and reducing noise transfer – all to contribute to better sleeping accommodation.
For an improved driving experience, the dashboard has been lowered slightly, which is meant to increase the field of vision through the screen and give the driver a high vantage point to observe the traffic ahead. In line with that, the A-pillars of the cab are significantly narrower than on the previous model, allowing for better vision without sacrificing strength.
The dash itself combines accessibility and functionality in one, boasting sweeping lines and logical ergonomics, with no control requiring a stretch to reach. Interestingly, lighting controls have been relocated to join with the mirror and window switches on the driver’s door armrest – providing a full ‘vision’ control panel.
New climate control and interior lighting are part of the mix, too, and on the pre-production trucks examined and driven by Prime Mover, the quality of finish of the paint, trim and even panel gaps match that of premium cars.
Under the cab, the 16-litre V8 engines remain widely untouched and provide up to 730hp and 3,500Nm of torque, while the 13-litre six-cylinder unit has been completely overhauled –with new engine management systems, reworked combustion chambers, new injectors and increased cooling capacity. There is now a 500hp version of the 13-litre engine, too, an option that could find a lot of favour with Australian operators once it becomes available here. What’s more, the torque developed by the new engines has led to the offering of a 2.35:1 rear axle ratio that will keep revs down and save fuel.
The 13-litre engines now only use SCR for exhaust after treatment to meet Euro VI regulations, and all engines of the new range are capable of being run on Hydro-treated Vegetable Oil (HVO), which is becoming more and more popular in Europe. Engines suitable for alternative and/or renewable fuels will be introduced in the coming year, too.
The Opticruise Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) hasn’t escaped attention either. In combination with revised software, an air-operated brake on the layshaft better synchronises shaft speeds and contributes to the transmission now being able to complete shifts in 0.4 seconds – delivering smoother power and negligible loss of vehicle momentum.
According to Scania, the up to 45 per cent improvement in shift time will make a significant difference in power delivery, especially upshifting when loaded on a rising incline. During our first test, the difference is quite noticeable when driving, and engine turbo boost is better maintained under these often occurring circumstances.
Judging from that first drive in Europe, it’s fair to state that Scania went all in with the new heavu-duty range. Since the first prototype was produced in 2014, more than 10 million kilometres of testing have been carried out, which is equivalent to circumnavigating the globe 250 times. While the OEM has impressive facilities to simulate all types of environmental conditions, it also exposed the test trucks to a range of real life scenarios, ranging from the Scandinavian tundra to Spanish deserts.
Yet, Scania has made it very clear that its intention is not just to supply the actual vehicle to its clientele. At the core of the ‘next generation’ proposal is the manufacturer’s desire to become an integral factor in the overall business operations of their customers by offering a toolbox of add-ons, many of which are associated with the connectivity mega-trend currently sweeping through the trucking industry, which is likely to form the basis for autonomous driving and platooning down the track.
Scania has traditionally been an early adopter of the technology and now has more than 200,000 vehicles connected via its telematics systems, and the new S generation is expected to give that number a notable boost.
With that in mind, Scania could be onto something big with the new product line, even though actual sales will have to prove the early praise has been justified.
Already, the new model secured the prestigious International Truck of the Year award for 2016 at the IAA Truck Show in Hanover – showcasing it has all the potential to set a new standard in the field of driver environment, fuel economy, interior space, safety and reliability. Now it just has to come to Australia.