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Mack Trucks: Renault's US Engine Room


kscarbel2
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Commercial Motor / October 22, 1998

Many operators on both sides of the Atlantic are blissfully unaware that Renault owns Mack Trucks. Yet in the seven years since RVI acquired the bulldog brand, Mack engines have found their way into Renault's European truck range in increasing numbers. And there's more to come.

Ever since Renault gained full control of Mack Trucks, there's been a steadily increasing flow of technology and components eastward across the Atlantic. Mack's fire-breathing E9 V-8 was fitted in the Renault Magnum from day one, and in January '97 RVI added Mack's 12-litre E7 six-pot to the Magnum engine line-up—E7equipped Magnums are now sold in the UK at 390, 430 and 470hp.

Not all the traffic's one-way— Mack has benefited from RVI's cab design expertise and is running several Mack-badged Magnum demonstrators Stateside. Last December, Commercial Motor revealed it was also looking at selling the Premium range. So what's happening? Commercial Motor put that question to Steve Homcha, Mack's vice-president in charge of engineering and product planning. The answer, as far as Magnum and Premium are concerned, is not a lot.

"We've taken the products out and shown them on the show circuit," says Homcha. "We've had a favourable response to the driver cabin. But in terms of what we do now, it's largely wait and see. The legislation over here doesn't provide benefits to customers of cabovers so the market will stick with bonneted trucks."

As forward-control rigs account for little more than 2% of all US heavy tractor sales noone should be surprised by this.

And while Freightliner has tried to stimulate the cabover debate with its Argosy tractor, Homcha reckons: "The reality is there's no government interest (in revising the weight laws), we don't see anything changing."

So the Magnum and Premium look doomed to remain as "curiosities" in the States. "We have them in our portfolio." says Homcha, "but we see them more as an opportunity for export with a North American powertrain to places like Australia."

That process has already started with the launch down under of the Mack Qantum, a 6x4 tractor with a Premium cab atop a 425hp Mack E7 engine, 13-speed Fuller gearbox and an Eaton double-drive back bogie in place of the standard RVI European driveline. Mack Trucks Australia has already been designated the manufacturer of Mack right-hand-drive trucks worldwide.

So could the UK get the Qantum alongside the Premium? "You'll see more export from Mack, but not to Europe," says Homcha. "The European product will be a Renault," But if US operators don't want European trucks, what can Mack take from Europe? According to Homcha: "A tremendous amount, not least in terms of cab design and ergonomics. "Renault and other European manufacturers have had a stronger emphasis on this," he adds, "and we'll utilize the cab group activities of RVI to provide that."

So when Mack's long-awaited new flagship bonneted tractor, code named Vision, makes its US debut next February, will it have a "European" interior?

"Don't expect to see premium components inside, but some consideration in terms of how it will be laid out for the driver will be familiar," says Homcha. "You'll see a much better focus in the driver's driving and relaxing environment with tremendous improvements in the layout of the cabin."

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Here is a N.A. catalog cover.

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"OPERTUNITY IS MISSED BY MOST PEOPLE BECAUSE IT IS DRESSED IN OVERALLS AND LOOKS LIKE WORK"  Thomas Edison

 “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’

P.T.CHESHIRE

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That's one ugly truck. LOL!

Renault's high-end Magnum tractor certainly was not aesthetically appealing to most U.S. eyes, but in fact it was an advanced truck in design and established quite a loyal following in Europe. Renault was never lacking in orders.

The streamlined "Premium" tractor is probably much more to your liking (the same cab also being used on the impressive "Kerax" vocational models).

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