Sometimes the mention of a name immediately evokes thoughts of power and heft. When you bring two such names together, you know the result will be the stuff of legends.
Freightliner and Cummins are two companies that need no introduction to those in the business of heavy long-haul transport. Either name in isolation will prick the ears of those in the know – together they become a legendary force to be reckoned with. This has in fact been the case since 1996, when Freightliner was officially launched into the South African market by Mercedes-Benz South Africa.
Today, six out of 10 Freightliners ordered by customers are fitted with a Cummins engine. “Cummins engines are especially suitable for our product offering,” says Duncan Prince, product manager for Freightliner, Fuso and Western Star at Mercedes-Benz South Africa. “They provide good fuel consumption and performance, and have proved to be exceptionally reliable and cost effective to maintain.”
On offer in the latest Freightliner Argosy long-haul truck tractor is Cummins’s 15-litre ISX in the 298 to 462 kW (400 to 620 hp) range. “The ISX is very reliable, and is among the most durable and long-lived engines in the extra-heavy commercial vehicle segment,” says Prince.
He explains that a key feature of the ISX that customers hold in high regard is its compression brake. Known as Interbrake, it is capable of absorbing roughly the same amount of power that the engine produces. Among the numerous benefits it provides to drivers and operators, the key ones are its light weight (compared to hydraulic retarders) and the fact that it places no real strain on the vehicle’s cooling system. “It provides a highly effective auxiliary brake, enhancing safety and allowing faster controlled downhill descents, while saving the operator from excessive foundation brake maintenance,” says Prince.
Of course, no engine achieves such a reputation without deserving it. Cummins has placed great emphasis on ensuring its engines can, and do, deliver on their promise. Janean Davies, relationship manager for heavy-duty original equipment manufacturer Cummins South Africa, explains the company’s role: “The primary goal of Cummins South Africa is to provide consistent, high-quality, customer support and to maintain the consistency and excellence that our customers expect of our engines through our appointed WWSPS Freightliner dealer network. Cummins and Freightliner are actively engaging with dealers to build awareness around the features and benefits of the products, thereby ensuring ‘one face’ for service and support.”
Cummins also provides Freightliner dealers with leadership and direction in dealer development and resources to support the dealer network. “Freightliners powered by our engines have qualified, capable service technicians behind them, and genuine Cummins parts are readily available. This ensures that customers can have peace of mind that their vehicles are maintained and serviced throughout the dealer network to the quality standards that are expected by Cummins globally,” Davies expands. And if you were wondering, base Cummins engines have a standard warranty of two-years/400 000 km, to which additional coverage of up to five-years/800 000 km can also be purchased.
The result is what Prince regards as a core part of the success of the Freightliner product over the last 17 years: “We find that many customers buy our truck on the strength of the fact that it has a Cummins engine which is produced by a solid company with a proven track record.”
This relationship is then likely to continue into the future, says Davies. “Cummins views its relationship with Freightliner as a partnership and as key to our business strategy over the next five years. The Cummins-Freightliner combination is a strong representation of these American companies’ ability to adapt and customise a customer’s vehicle for a specific application, something we believe that many competitors are not able to offer in the market today. For this reason the American drivetrain will always remain a popular option for those customers in it for the long haul.”
The legend continues.