TATRA has a formidable reputation for trucks that go anywhere, anytime
The mining and drilling industries of Western Australia have produced all types of requirements for vehicles that can spend their working lives operating in extreme conditions.
One make of truck that has fostered an enviable reputation for working in hostile conditions is TATRA. Manufactured in the Czech Republic, TATRA is largely unknown on the East Coast of Australia, but for those that follow European brands it has a high recognition factor, largely achieved by the success of the company in off-road competitive events such as the DAKAR Rally.
Service and support for TATRA products in the Australian market come under the domain of Offroad Trucks Australia, a privately-owned family business headed by managing director Larry Gill.
This year’s Brisbane Truck Show saw Larry Gill and his team display the next generation of TATRA products in advance of their introduction to Australia. With over 500 vehicles sold into the Australian market, it’s the specialist operators on the drilling and mining industry that are finding the big Czech meets all the design criteria with a broad range of options that even includes a choice as to the number of axles for each model.
“The original TATRA engine was an air-cooled V8 diesel, but some six or seven years ago we realised this was not going to match the requirements for Euro 6 emissions levels. The Euro 5 compliant air-cooled TATRA engine is currently available with 436 hp and 2100 Nm of torque, with the TATRA T817 model in short and long-wheelbase options and configurations of 4×4, 6×6, 8×8 and 10×10,” said Larry Gill.
“Several engine manufacturers were considered for the supply of a replacement driveline, including Navistar, Caterpillar and MTU, but the final choice was to link with DAF and PACCAR in order to fit the PACCAR MX13 engine. This is available now in two ratings, offering 450 hp and 2300 Nm of torque, and 510 hp with 2500 Nm of torque. Transmission options are now based on ZF together with Allison automatic transmissions. The DAF cabin is also used in single, sleeper and crew options on the TATRA Phoenix.
“The ride comfort is fantastic, with independent suspension of axles, load-sharing options, variations of GVM and rear-steer axle groups. The latest configuration with the MX13 engine and driveline has now completed durability testing by TATRA engineers over a total of 1.5 million kilometres on the company test track.
In previous years we have been limited in terms of application by front axle weights of six tonnes. Now with West Australia increasing its steer-axle permitted weight limits to seven tonnes, and with 6.5 tonnes adopted by other states, it has opened up many more possibilities for the brand.
“Obviously we don’t compete with the highway trucks, as the TATRA products are very much specialist, purpose-built vehicles for mining, logging in NZ and also now fertiliser spreaders as well as agitators. Tare weights remain in the region of 1.0 to 1.5 tonnes above a typical on-highway truck design.
“The alteration in permitted weights enables the TATRA brand to expand into new markets, with specific models available up to configurations such as 16×16 with a GVM of 92 tonnes. We can also offer rear-steering axles as well as taking advantage of maximum flotation when running off-road by fitting wide tyres for work in soft sand,” added Larry.
Although the 8×8 configuration TATRA model with a GVM of 52 tonnes on display was an early import in left-hand-drive, future imports will be in right-hand-drive direct from the factory, with emissions options to conform to Euro 5 or Euro 6 levels. The same spec truck is also available in 10×10 format with a GVM of 62 tonnes.
The major feature of the TATRA design is the use of a central backbone tube that provides an exceptionally rigid frame, with the central tube and swinging half axles each featuring independent airbag suspension.
The design of half axle with the incorporation of independent suspension provides highly effective vibration absorption, greater flexibility on difficult off-road terrain and high off-road travel speeds through a wide variety of operating conditions. All drive axles feature cross and inter-axle differential lock capability.
Offroad Trucks Australia has been representing TATRA now in Australia for 20 years and provides a full support service from its Perth location, backed by 25 additional service facilities throughout Australia. The TATRA brand itself has a history dating back over 120 years.
“In Perth, we carry 100 percent spare parts support for every truck sold in Australia, and we provide a 24/7 availability of parts supply and service,” said Larry Gill.
“We had a captured market in the mining industry, and now we start to expand into a larger market. Between DAF, TATRA and Paccar, we have come up with an amazing vehicle,” Larry added.