Is There a Place for 500hp Engines?

1,260,000km while still wearing its original brake pads

With many current multi-trailer prime movers sporting 550 or 600hp ratings, in this market segment is there a place for 500hp engines? Diesel News’ Paul Matthei answers the question.

Having successfully operated a number of V8-engined Scanias over the years, a Melbourne-based operator is now finding the six-cylinder Scania G 500 and R 500 New Truck Generation (NTG) prime movers ideal for a diverse multi-trailer container carting and line haul fridge van operation. The never-ending quest for improved fuel efficiency provides the six-pack powertrain with a compelling case.

The original question could be seen as a bit misleading really, due to the fact that the torque rating can play a more important role than outright horsepower in determining the suitability of a truck for a given role. 

To put things in perspective, a popular engine rating for line haul B-doubles is 550hp and 1,850lbft (2,508Nm) of torque. In comparison, Scania’s G and R 500 variants deliver 500hp and 1,881lbft (2,550Nm) of torque. 

So, while on paper the 550hp rating might sound more impressive, it is the torque produced at lower rpm that actually hauls the truck up the hill more so than the horsepower. Therefore, all things being equal, with its extra 31lbft (42Nm) of torque delivered between the exceptionally low 1,000 and 1,350rpm the 500hp Scanias could potentially outhaul their 550hp opponents on a climb. 

But as the old adage regarding human behaviour notes, perception can be erroneously interpreted as reality and many will continue to believe that higher horsepower equals better performance. 

This also resonates in the sensory realm whereby a vehicle that makes more noise can be easily perceived to have better performance than a quieter one. This is a factor that has traditionally worked against European trucks in the Australian market, particularly compared with those originating from another part of the northern hemisphere.


is there a place for 500hp engines?

However, one truck operator who harbours no such convictions, illusion or otherwise, is Nick Apostolovski. Nick, with the help of his wife, Daniela, runs a diverse haulage business called NAD Transport. The work is divided between two companies and consists of container cartage for Owens Transport and refrigerated haulage for Karras Cold Logistics.

Based in Melbourne and using an almost all-Scania fleet of prime movers, Nick firmly believes the Swedish marque has played a significant role in the success of the business and he relates that his experience with Scania goes way, way back.

“When I was a little kid a relative of mine always had Scanias so I guess that’s where it all started,” Nick says, adding that this factor naturally helped steer him towards European trucks when he first started in business.

“My background is European and I grew up around European trucks, I really appreciate the comfortable ride. In the last few years in particular Scania has gone from strength to strength.”

As the conversation evolves, Nick mentions that his first foray into trucking involved a ’98 model 143 500 Scania Streamline prime mover that he converted into a tipper and dog combination. However, his association with this truck was relatively short-lived.

“I didn’t really like the tipper environment with its dusty and muddy working conditions and the fact that when it rains a lot you can’t work,” Nick says. “So I sold that and bought another European brand of prime mover and started doing container work.”

It’s a line of work Nick has continued to this day, with two Scanias now doing full-time container cartage for Owens. The other trucks are subcontracted to Karras hauling between Sydney and Melbourne in addition to local distribution work around Melbourne.

“Our two new R 500s pull single fridge vans on opposite legs Melbourne-Sydney with a specific seafood haulage run for Karras and the two R 560s, a 2012 and a 2017 model, do Tarcutta changeovers during the night and local work by day, so I’m a bit all over the place,” he laughs. 

As for the other trucks, not long back Nick purchased a new G 500 for around-the-clock container work while the earliest Scania in the fleet, a 2006 model R 580, fronts a side-loader doing daytime container deliveries and pickups for Owens. 

The fact that he’s purchased three new Scanias this year alone speaks volumes for both Nick’s faith in the brand’s NTG range and also the success of the business.

“My wife nearly kicked me out of the house for spending so much money,” he jokes. “But seriously the business is going gangbusters so we needed the new gear to keep up with the growth in demand for our services.

“Scania’s latest trucks are super impressive, I can’t speak highly enough of them. I’ve driven other new model brands recently but to me these new Scanias just seem to be in a class of their own. The technology and information that is presented on the dashboard is simply phenomenal.”


is there a place for 500hp engines?