When it comes to designing a combination for the car hauling sector, getting the right truck for the job is essential and getting the right dimensions is absolutely essential.
With a height limit of 4.6 metres allowed for car carriers, and the height of cars, means the cab height has to be as low as possible. This has been achieved on the latest Mack Anthem prime movers which have been integrated into the fleet by using low profile tyres, a lower suspension and lowering the cabin roof. It is all about a few millimetres here and a few millimetres there.
“Car carrying is very unique when it comes to specs,” says Goran Koviloski, Fleet Manager at PrixCar. “The Mack Anthem, which we have recently purchased, have to be factory fitted with special staunches to hold our cab frames. We work very closely with Volvo Group and specify our needs, and they engineer them into the design for us. Mack have worked very hard in the last few years to accommodate us.”
The height gained enable the operation to put something like a medium SUV, weighing no more than1900kg above the cab and still remain below maximum height.
“All of our trailers have to be 48 foot long, because the longer our trailers, the longer the cars we can put on them,” says Goran. “That means we have to spec the truck with a short wheelbase. This creates other issues, because I still have to be able to cart the fuel for the truck and fit hydraulic tanks on the side in order to have my PTO running, to operate the trailer.
“The limited wheel base and longer trailer means we specify a 28 inch sleeper, which we used to have to source on the aftermarket, but Mack has now integrated that for us. So, there is now literally, a car carrying spec, with integrated sleeper.
“For us space is everything, especially because the cars are protruding from the front of the trailer. When you turn the cars come pretty close to the back wall of the cabin.”
Although overall GCM is not going to be exceeded, modern cars are becoming heavier and loads are getting up to around the 37.5 tonnes GCM, still short of the 39 tonnes maximum allowed. The Mack Anthems which have recently arrived in the fleet are rated at 500 hp from the 13 litre MP8 engine.
Most of the fleet run as single trailer combinations. Access to dealerships to unload trucks is simpler with a semi. B-doubles can cause issues on busy roads if they unload on the street. Most dealerships receiving regular deliveries will keep an area clear off the road for a semi to unload on. If not a designated area on the road can be coned off when needed.
There are some more dimension allowances to be taken into account for the car carrier. The prime mover and trailer have to be under 19m when coupled up. However, there is a gazetted allowance for the cars on board to over hang, both at the front, over the cab, and at the rear of the trailer. This allows a vehicle to over 1.2m at the front and at the back as well. This means overall length for a fully loaded semi car carrier can get up to 21.4m long.
The fleet also includes a number of smaller rigid trucks with specialist bodies, including set-ups like enclosed carriers to handle the top end off the car market.
When it comes to purchasing decisions for the prime movers pulling the single trailer car carriers, the choices are quite clear. In order to fit a car frame the truck needs to be a conventional. This limits choice considerably.
Another consideration is the combination of ride height and cabin height, to keep a loaded truck under 4.6m high. Taking this into calculation, the choices come down to the Mack Anthem and the Kenworth T410SAR as the only truck makers to be able to design an Australian built truck to fit inside the envelope and the two models are approximately 50/50 in this fleet.
When it comes to the trucks hauling B-doubles and involved in moving trucks around the country, the choice is more broad and PrixCar have a wider selection with many brands of truck used in this, smaller, part of the fleet.
“Fuel economy is not at the top of our list,” says Goran. “All the trucks we look at are very competitive and I argue that there are other elements of our operation, which we need keep control of more than concentrating on fuel consumption. It’s also hard to monitor fuel, because the trailers are not aerodynamic and change shape all of the time.”