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Friday, May 29, 2015

HD Truck Market Sees New Players, Old Friends

The heavy-duty truck market has always been a place where innovation could drive immediate change. For decades the diesel engine and drivetrains were suspended in a state of minimal change.

The last two years have witnessed monumental changes in technology and players entering the industry to get their share of the HD pie. Whether it is the glider kits allowing HD diesel-driven trucks to employ alternative fuels or the adoption of automatic transmissions and new safety features and cameras, technology is making the trucking industry very dynamic once again.

Old is the New
T-Line Trucks & Chassis, a low-volume business that evolved from the old Diamond T and Diamond Reo operations, plans a return to production later this year. Its principals promise quality and simplicity through sound design, methodical assembly and use of hard-wired electrical circuitry.

Diamond Specialty Vehicles LLC, hopes to begin producing Class 6, 7 and 8 trucks and tractors, mostly for vocational use. Glider kits and complete "made to order" trucks, using a proprietary aluminum cab, are described on the company’s website.

Powertrain offerings include Cummins diesels and Power Systems International gasoline and alternative-fuel engines, along with Eaton and Tremac manual transmissions, Allison automatics, and Dana Spicer and Meritor axles.

The name incorporates the ‘T’ from Diamond T, an auto and truck maker founded in 1907 by a C.A. Tilt, in Chicago. Through the years, Diamond T trucks were known for styling and mechanical innovation.

Long-hood Cat to Pounce
Caterpillar unveiled its CT680 on/off-road truck and tractor, the third model in a line of Cat Trucks first introduced about four years ago for vocational customers.

The long-hood Cat has a set-forward steer axle designed to tackle heavy vocational applications, and a 15-liter diesel will be offered in the CT series. The bold styling reflects the two previous Cat Truck releases.

The CT680 features rugged automotive exterior styling, a spacious aluminum cab with ergonomic gauges and controls, and vocational-specific 12.4-liter diesel and automatic, automated and manual transmission options.

Its set-forward axle sits on a parabolic taper leaf suspension, tuned cab air suspension, and premium sound insulation and interior trim. The 15-liter diesel due out later this year might or might not be a reintroduction of the Cat-Navistar engine built in small numbers in 2011.

CT680 production will begin by the middle of this year, Schmitz said. Like the current models, it will be assembled at Navistar’s plant in Escobedo, Mexico.