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A Dutch treat fires up

ON THE ROAD: The DAF CF85 is out to claim the intrastate market.
ON THE ROAD: The DAF CF85 is out to claim the intrastate market. Bruce Honeywill

DAF trucks have been on Australian roads for nearly 30 years, and owned by Kenworth parent company Paccar for the past 20.

However, the Dutch breed lags significantly behind other northern European trucks such as Volvo and Scania, the brand has never made significant inroads into the Australian market.

With the globalisation of the truck market, Paccar and DAF are using manufacturing efficiencies and streamlining specifications to meet market vocations around the world and as far as we are concerned, be better placed to target niche vocations in Australia where DAF is releasing its mid range CF series.

The CF 510 with a 12.9 litre 510hp, 2500Nm of torque MX engine stretches the CF market suitability into the lighter end of intrastate B-double work, particularly distribution pocket B-doubles.

"The CF reaches that magical 500 hp which opens up a lot more opportunity and flexibility,” general manager of DAF Trucks Australia Robert Griffin said.

"For us that moves us into the pocket B-double and tipper and dog applications and, should I dare to say, the CF reaches the magical 500hp which opens up a lot more opportunity and flexibility.”

Okay, this is all very good, market share and all, but what is the truck like to drive?

General manager of DAF Trucks Australia Robert Griffin.
General manager of DAF Trucks Australia Robert Griffin. Bruce Honeywill

At Mount Cotton

At a recent Paccar day at Mount Cotton in Queensland, there was a chance to take the new 510hp DAF for a spin around the training ground course.

Walking up to the truck, it is very European and in look and feel, the dominance of cab-over trucks on European roads and the air tunnel sculpting makes the similarity both obvious and understandable.

The CF has all the resistance-reducing skirting panels and cab-top scoop.

The climb into the cab is easy, the CF being slightly lower than the high-rise XF. Sitting position is comfortable, the 16 speed automated transmission is manipulated by a radio-type dial on the dash with the usual RND positions and two little tortoise icons for a reverse crawl gear and a bog cog.

Dash-mounted trailer brake and maxi are all in comfortable reach of the driving position and a semicircular instrument panel has an old school round speedo dial on the left, tacho on the right, a screen to monitor vital statistics while driving, small fuel and temperature gauges and an AdBlue gauge.

The Dutch truck built in Britain handled handsomely.
The Dutch truck built in Britain handled handsomely. Bruce Honeywill

On the road pulling a semi-trailer with a load of bricks, the truck has that normal ease of an automated point-and-shoot European, just get in and drive.

As always, whether this truck will be picked up by the marketplace will come down to an operator's decision, being attracted by the narrower spec of the higher-powered CF 85, along with how the vehicle is supported, it's on highway cost compared to its projected retail value at a million clicks.

There has always seemed to be something of an incestuous conflict of interest within the Paccar family where the XF can be seen in open competition with the Kenworth cab over trucks, currently the K200.

However Rob Griffin said both the XF and the CF trucks complement rather than compete with their sister brand.

He said the demarcation between DAF and Kenworth is the interstate B-double linehaul applications, "we will leave that up to the bigger bore engine in the K200. We are looking to strengthen our foothold in the middle section of the market with these CF models and we are bringing more product into those areas”.

Rob Griffen says the CF has hit the magic 500 horsepower mark opening new market interest.
Rob Griffen says the CF has hit the magic 500 horsepower mark opening new market interest. Bruce Honeywill

But even with 30 years on Australian roads, only 300 DAF Trucks were sold in 2016.

The CF 75 with a nine litre engine, and the CF 85 with the 13 litre MX engine.

The big-boy spec of the DAF range is the XF with similar driveline options but a larger cab and a bigger sleeper more suited to long-distance haulage.

"The CF 85 has been our distribution model and we have just finished trialling it and upgrading the cooling system and the power spec to 510hp,” Rob Griffin said.

I asked the DAF boss if taking the CF through the 500hp barrier was not putting it into close our competition with the XF.

"There could be some people who have purchased the XF because we didn't have a CF in the same power range, that 500 hp figure. We believe the CF will be our intra-state truck for 19 and 26 metre B-double configurations while the XF will continue to be the DAF interstate option.”

The low profile of the CF may give some fuel saving.
The low profile of the CF may give some fuel saving. Bruce Honeywill

Rob Griffin said rather than taking the likes of Volvo and Scania head-on "Japanese or European, if you run any one of those vehicles, there is no reason not to be running a DAF”.

The componentry for DAF Trucks is manufactured in the Eindhoven plant in the Netherlands, but the trucks are built in the old Leyland factory in the UK.

As with most European trucks, the vocational specifications are set in the destination country and implemented in computer managed builds in Manchester.

Australian trucks are delivered with the tropical radiator and tropical heavy duty engine pack.

DAF trucks are no longer a rarity on our roads, a lot have been sold over the past quarter century and perhaps this CF being lighter and more manoeuvrable than its bigger XF sibling could find an ongoing market niche in the regional, mid-haul transport task.

Big Rigs

Topics:  daf tech talk trucks


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