Friday 4 March 2011
We test the Iveco Trakker 8x4 Rigid where it makes easy work of the variety of tasks and surfaces we throw at it.
Iveco have primed themselves to maximise their opportunity on any upturn in the construction sector. As the industry slowly recovers, there will be a direct need to either clear and prepare construction sites or bring the raw material to the site. And let’s not forget the harsh winter and the toll its has taken on the UK’s roads which may also drive aid towards the recovery.
Before I fired up the first truck, Nigel Emms Iveco’s UK Head for Brand and Communications had a word with me and was keen to point out how they see the potential recovery shaping up. “Earlier in the year month, the RHA spoke to 76 of their members involved in the construction sector,” he said. “All agree they’ve had it tough – and all say their levels of business have been threatened, and few feel they’re out of the woods just yet. 26% have either de-fleeted or have vehicles that are currently stood up. Only 18% expect to take on new vehicles at any time over the next 12 to 18 months, yet 50% expect things – levels of business and operating conditions – to improve over the next 6 to 9 months, once the election is over, while 25% expect it to stay the same or at least get no worse.
“Significantly, nearly a quarter see an improvement in house building and commercial property as strengthening their business. And house building is a huge indicator of economic improvement, as we all know, whilst others see improvements in aggregates, chippings, blocks and skip work,” Nigel added.
On that basis, Iveco took the opportunity to show case its current construction line up in a Portland stone quarry which supplied its grade ‘A’ limestone to many famous buildings such as St Pauls Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. And at a retail price of around £5000 per m3, the stone still gets shipped all over the world for use in some of the finest constructions. The Bowers Quarry lies just outside the village of Easton on Portland and provided the ideal test location for the Iveco construction range with a variety of surfaces and inclines to put both vehicle and driver to the test.
Prepared for wet weather and the slippery gloop that is ever present in quarry bottoms, it was a welcome surprise to have bright sunshine with good temperatures that weren’t too warm, and although dry underfoot, the ground had held some moisture that kept the dust down.
As far as the Trakker is concerned, operators get a choice between the 7.8 litre Cursor 8 engine at 310, 330 and 360 hp and the 12.88 litre Cursor 13 at 410, 450 and 500 hp. All engines share the same common features including high torque at low engine speeds, which is useful for manoeuvring in adverse operating conditions. Peak torque is available over a wide spread of engine speeds and maximum power is available from intermediate speeds, allowing smooth driving even on rough terrain. Available in 4x4, 6x4, 6x6 and 8x4 rigid configurations and as powerful 6x4 tractor units, the Trakker has a cab width of 2.28m on all models, offering excellent vehicle manoeuvrability. It can be specified with one of three cab variants - either a day cab (Active Day / AD) or a sleeper cab (Active Time / AT), the latter of which is also available with either a standard or high roof.
Two Iveco Trakker 340T36K 8x4 tipper chassis were available for test, built on 5,020 mm wheelbases and mounted with Wilcox Wilcolite aluminium aggregate bodies. This combination guarantees a payload in excess of 20 tonnes, with a powerful Cursor 8 engine developing up to 360 hp between 1,690 and 2,400 rev/min and 1,500 Nm of torque between 1,125 and 1,690 rev/min. Trakker features a power-matched EuroTronic automated gearbox as standard, or the choice of an optional ZF manual transmission. The EuroTronic has been continually developed alongside the Cursor engine range, with well over half of all Trakker customers keeping the standard automated option, thanks to its proven efficiency when operating both on and off-road.
On the Road
The EuroTronic gearbox also allows manual changes made in semi-automatic mode to be controlled via the steering column stalk, whilst the selection of automatic and semi-automatic modes, neutral, reverse and the low speed manoeuvring mode (forward and reverse) are controlled from three dash-mounted buttons located to the left of the steering column. In the quarry, the Trakker made easy work of the variety of surfaces and tasks I set it. The long and rough track was tackled with ease. And just for good measure and to keep the Trakker on a tight reign, I selected 2nd gear on the manual setting and let the engine take us down the drop. On the quarry bottom the Trakker made light work of heavy loads, and even on the climb out, it was tackled with ease, the rutted loose surface posing no problem.
With kit like this, Iveco is well place to benefit from business when it eventually does pick up!
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