On a balmy night at Archerfield Airfield in Brisbane, a group of trucks was unveiled, driving in line, the new K220 models emerge out of the dark and into the doorway of a massive hangar, filled with the Kenworth faithful.
The excitement was palpable and the expectations were realised as the line of shiny new Kenworth K220 trucks nosed into the lights in the hangar, and the shadowy shapes became the new range of cabovers, which we will be seeing on our roads in the near future.
The launch of any Kenworth truck model is something special, so many of the trucks the brand produces have become iconic in the Australian truck industry. This year sees a significant change coming through for one of the brand’s top performers.
Kenworth unveil the new K220, bringing the brand’s flagship cabover up to date with the requirements of the modern trucking industry, without compromising the model’s 50 year history.
The arrival of the Kenworth K220 has been widely anticipated this year, and there has been broad speculation about what’s coming and some dodgy leaked material on video and posted to Facebook. Nothing this big can arrive without some seepage onto social media.
In the lead up to the launch, there were a few things we could be sure of, the basic cabin design would remain relatively unchanged. Since the decline of the cabover in North America, the number of K200s produced in the world, would not justify a massive research and development program within Paccar. It would have to be a small evolution.
Changing preferences in the market and upcoming legislation, also made some changes imperative. Euro 6 emissions levels are the prerequisite for many of the larger corporate contracts and ADR 80/04 is back on the government’s agenda and expected in the next few years.
There are also modern electronic safety systems being mandated like advanced emergency braking and all of the radar and camera system which comes with it, plus electronic stability control, compatible with EBS systems.
Paccar is also a global truck maker and would be reluctant to be building a large number legacy trucks with different systems. Any global player needs the massive costs involved in developing new truck system to be amortised across as many trucks as possible remain viable. Global players like as many of their models as possible using common systems.
There were also some other influences, pushing for changes from the Kenworth cabover. The competition has got much fiercer in the last five or so years. The European cabovers, with which the K series directly competes have come on in leaps and bounds in areas like fuel economy, safety and sophisticated control systems.
In essence, the market has changed during the 11 year lifetime of the K200, something had to change, and changed it has. The crucial calculation for the designers at Kenworth became one of balancing the expectations of cabover customers, with the strengths of the Kenworth brand, which have led to it dominating the Australian heavy duty truck market for the whole of the 21st century. No pressure there.