Rise of the Trakker
Tough as nails and as strong as a span of oxen, the Iveco Trakker is known as one of the heavy-duty hauliers of choice in South Africa. Now the very latest Trakker – tougher and stronger than ever before – is coming to the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS).
Human beings have always had a knack for adapting to their environment. When we experienced cold, we learned to make a fire. When we couldn’t throw stones far enough, we made bows and arrows. And now, as we need to haul large amounts of coal around on uneven terrain, with the heat of the African sun beating down upon us, we have invented off-road heavy commercial vehicles.
Just before the Russian Revolution, military engineer Adolphe Kégrasse retro-fitted a luxury Packard Twin-6 with his unique halftrack drive track and a set of skis. This was one of the first off-road internal combustion vehicles to be made and, as such, a major step towards modern off-road vehicles. This was also about a hundred years ago.
So when one looks at an off-road commercial truck like the Iveco Trakker, one needs to be aware that more than a century’s worth of engineering and science has been brought together to create a machine built to take on Mother Nature at her most impolite.
Known mostly for its use in coal transport and cross-border operations throughout southern Africa, the Trakker is a highly versatile, off-road heavy vehicle. According to Iveco’s product manager, Deon Wannenburg: “The Trakker is an on/off road vehicle and is completely adaptable to on/off road applications such as quarry haulage and abnormal loads. Our clients have also been known to use these trucks in heavy crane applications and in heavy coal applications as tipper trucks. The Trakker has many different configurations making it extremely adaptable to clients’ needs.”
Current models of the Trakker operate the Cursor 13 engine. This six-cylinder in-line engine is designed to produce a large amount of torque at low revs. The Cursor 13 delivers between 279 kW (380 hp) and 353 kW (480 hp).
The 16-speed gearbox can change from semi-automatic to automatic and is, according to Iveco, about 50 kg lighter than regular manual gearboxes found in trucks of the same size.
The Cursor engine is also equipped with a decompression engine brake known as an Iveco Turbo Brake (ITB). In short, by partially reopening a valve at the end of a cylinder’s compression phase, resistance created by the engine itself, or “engine braking”, is optimised. The ITB is also wholly integrated with the Trakker’s main and auxiliary braking systems.
For the South African market, two different versions of the Trakker are currently available; the “rigid” and “tractor” variables, which are designed for the construction and quarry industries respectively. It comes in 4×2, 4×4, 6×4, 8×4 and 6×6 versions with the Trakker tractor model also featuring an 8×8 version.
The Trakker also has some technological tricks up its sleeve that its competitors don’t have. Wannenburg explains: “The Trakker features an integrated engine and transmission system. This new technology is the first of its kind. It also boasts a robust driveline which has been baptised by fire through the use of this vehicle in military applications.”
Having recently adopted the cab from its road-bound cousin, the Stralis, the Trakker comes with either “active day” or “active time” cabin configurations, the latter being designed for a driver to stay onboard overnight.
That, however, is where the similarities end. According to Wannenburg: “The Trakker has a much higher ground clearance, higher payloads, thicker chassis and strengthened cross members.”
After abstaining from JIMS in 2011, Iveco has promised to pull out all the stops at this year’s event. With the new Trakker range forming part of the company’s extensive line-up, Iveco is going to be a major contender at this year’s all-things-automotive premiere event, a sentiment echoed by Wannenburg: “The entire range will be re-launched at JIMS, from truck tractors through to rigids. We expect an increase of up to 50 percent in Trakker sales with its great new and improved appearance and ergonomics.”
FOCUS looks forward to seeing what this new range of desert-destroying, off-road, heavy commercial vehicles from this Italian company has to offer at the biggest motoring show the continent of Africa has to offer.