The Australian truck industry has been waiting some time for the point at which DAF get with the program. Diesel has driven the new flagship model, around SE Queensland, pulling a B-double to find the new DAF range really is right up to date.
When the new DAF range was introduced earlier this year, it was the opportunity on the part of the Paccar-owned truck maker to pull up as an equal alongside all of its European rivals in its offering to the Australian truck market.
A new DAF on the Australian market today has all of the latest gadgetry that European truck buyers have available. The fast moving safety and vehicle control systems which are appearing at an increasing rate, are now fitted, in their latest form in the DAFs on sale here.
For many years the DAF had been virtually one generation behind its rivals, but now the DAF brand is playing on a par with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Scania, MAN, Volvo and Iveco. These new models reflect the leadership position DAF holds in its homelands. Last year DAF had a market share in the European truck market, over 15 tonnes GVM, of 16.6 per cent, in a tight run race it kept its nose ahead.
Here in Australia, the Europeans, led by Volvo, with Scania and Mercedes in pursuit have kept the technology on sale here as close as possible to that available in Europe. It has been an arms race with Volvo getting ahead before Scania take it one stage further, and then Mercedes Benz go one step forward again.
In this race DAF, MAN and Iveco have been also rans, keeping up but always a couple of years in arrears. With these new models arriving, DAF has skipped a generation and is now selling 2020 model year trucks.
This is probably just the right time for the Paccar organisation, as DAF get with the program, to ensure it has a genuine contender in the part of the market which prefers European trucks. The last few years have seen an increasing heavy duty market share going to European cabover prime movers. The traditional US dominance is waning and truck buyers are looking for fuel economy and high level safety equipment on board.
The truck model which the Australian truck market examines most thoroughly is the B-double prime mover. Diesel drove the DAF contender in this fiercely fought market segment over a test route taking in the busy routes around Brisbane and the very demanding ascent of Cunningham’s Gap, where torque is tested to its limit.
The truck in question is the DAF XF, the brand’s flagship prime mover. This is a truck with a 13 litre engine, the Paccar MX rated at 530hp. At the moment this is as much power as you can get in this brand, there is no 15 or 16 litre engine offered in Europe by DAF.
There seems to have been a new trend in recent years. After many years of just going for higher and higher power rating putting ever more strain on drivelines. Some rationality is appearing with preferred power ratings lowering in some instances. Many fleets now run with horsepower in the 500s rather than the 600s, searching for a sweet spot in fuel consumption, cost and tare weight.
A truck like the XF, not only sees DAF get with the program, but looks likely to be a contender in this part of the market. It will also make an excellent top of the range single trailer prime mover.