Coming of the Freightliner Coronado

It may look like a return to its roots but, the new look Freightliner Coronado is an all-new model utilising some of the latest technologies in its design. The retro feel comes from the shape of the new bonnet with a return to the upright flat fronted shape reminiscent of the first Freightliners to hit our shores some 20 years ago. The new shape marks a return to a more aggressive looking truck and sees a move away from the softer lines favoured by Freightliner in recent years.

The name Coronado will be applied to all of Freightliner’s conventional trucks at the heavier end of the heavy-duty truck market. The design of the truck sees the company integrating different parts of the Daimler empire and their technology into a single product. In the US market the introduction of the Coronado has seen the company rationalising its model offering during tough times for the US economy.

The launch of the Coronado also sees the return of an old favourite with Freightliner once again becoming available with Cummins ISX engines as their power plant. This marks the end of a hiatus during which engine choice has been limited due to Freightliner’s decision to drop the Cummins brand in the US market four years ago concentrating on Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar. Since then, Caterpillar has dropped out of the vendor engine market, leading to Cummins reintroduction.

The release of the new trucks sees the introduction of a prime mover, to be known simply as the Coronado and a more rugged model suitable for both prime mover and rigid applications to be known as the Coronado SD. In this particular case, SD stands for severe duty.

“This truck has the power to become our Freightliner flagship here in Australia,” says Daimler Managing Director, Hans Tempel. “That’s exactly how we want to position it. It is not just a truck which provides good technical solutions to our customers, it is also a truck which looks good. I think this truck can also be attractive to small companies and owner drivers.

“Our slogan for a long time has been ‘run smart’ and now I think with this truck we can add ‘run tough’. In fact, the first Coronados have already been bought by Linfox and will be on the road soon pulling road trains. This is just the starting point of a product offensive.”

There has been a Coronado model available on the US truck market for nearly 10 years. This was sold as a large owner driver highway prime mover with a long chassis and a wide cabin. The form in which it was sold, and appeared at the 2005 Brisbane Truck Show, was impractical for introduction into the Australian market. Basically, it was too wide and too long.

When the model was revamped in the US, the truck designers took the Coronado, the Classic and the CST and combined them into a new model called the Coronado and Coronado SD. The width and length options were changed to achieve the kind of flexibility required in the US market. This change in dimensions gave an opportunity to the Freightliner organisation in Australia to look at the range and adapt it for sale here at the heavier end of the heavy-duty segment.

The Daimler organisation sees the launch of this new model, as well as the other new models to be introduced over the next two years, as a chance for Freightliner to regain the market share it has seen slip away in the last few years. Despite the strength of the Freightliner Argosy in the B-double prime mover market, the company has seen market share fall as its conventional models failed to ignite a great deal of interest in the trucking industry.

“We are in the big truck league with Coronado,” says Carlo Beltrame, Senior Executive of Daimler Trucks. “We’ve got high expectations for it to deliver. This truck is a new truck in terms of the four principles in the design. They were the background to the development of this truck. We were looking for traditional style with good aerodynamics, innovative technology, driver comfort and delivering what everybody wants in a truck.”

The difference between the two trucks, the Coronado and the Coronado SD, can be seen in the specifications. The Severe Duty models are fitted with heavier duty axles, a bigger section frame, heavier duty suspensions and GSMs which go from 90 tonnes up to 140 tonnes for road trains.

Looking at the front of the truck it is clear the basic design comes from the old Century Class layout. The new front bonnet is reminiscent of the old FLC models which Freightliner introduced into Australia when they first arrived. The front of the bonnet has a traditionally styled grill topped by a wing shaped hood ornament, this is designed to improve air flow across the top of the bonnet.

The truck features a setback front axle, now possible due to the fact the truck is capable of complying with the rules for 6.5 tonnes over the front axle. The new front bumper design has a rugged look and complies with front under-run protection criteria. It has been named by Freightliner as the ‘Texas bumper’. The truck retains the two-piece windscreen favoured by the US market and the standard model includes a stainless steel sun visor.

Either side of the front bonnet features a large chrome air intake grille. This fulfils a practical purpose as well as enhancing the styling of the overall truck. With the air cleaners mounted internally under the bonnet the air intakes pull air in as it flows down the side of the bonnet. The air is then ducted to the air cleaner which is mounted directly above the engine. Fitting these under the bonnet has enabled the designers to come up with a much improved aerodynamic performance for a traditionally styled truck.

Elsewhere under the bonnet sees two choices for the truck owner, Cummins or Detroit. While the Cummins ISX, available here up to 600hp, is a known quantity, it is the introduction of the Detroit Diesel DD 15 which will be all new to truck customers in Australia.

The new Detroit engine will be available in three power ratings 500, 530 and 560 hp, all of which will be available with 1850 ft lb of torque. The 1850 ft lb torque rating will also be available from the ISX engine in its 485, 500, 525, 550 and 600 hp ratings. For those operators for whom even 1850 ft lb is not quite enough there will be a 2050 ft lb option available at the top end of the Coronado SD range.

Initial transmission offerings will include the traditional Eaton manual and Autoshift options but 2011 will also see the introduction of the Ultrashift Plus two pedal automated manual transmission at some point during the year. All of the auto gearboxes will be controlled by the Smart Shift steering column mounted paddle system used on all Freightliner Trucks.

The engine is cooled by a much larger radiator than the one used in the past. At 1900 in², the cooling system includes extra capacity and although it is not likely to be needed by most operators, it means additions like the fitting of large bull bars will not compromise cooling capacity. Freightliner is continuing to use the system in which the radiator is fixed directly onto the engine before being mounted between the splayed front chassis rails. This reduces fan clearance and improves cooling efficiency. Exhaust emission rules do mean the exhaust system now includes a diesel particulate filter.

The standard Meritor rear axles use the Freightliner Airliner suspension as standard with the Freightliner Tuftrac steel suspension, Hendrickson Primaax and Neway all available as options to cope with the heaviest duty work.
The cab is now set higher using pillow block mounts which have the effect of raising the cab another 50mm higher than it was in the past. While the basic cabin shape remains unaltered the options available to the truck buyer have changed. With a basic day cab the BBC measurement is 3140 mm, this can go out to 4386mm for the 58 inch raised roof sleeper option.

Cab roofs are available in three height options, mid roof, the new XT and raised roof. The combination of the higher roofs and wide cab give the interiors a roomy feel for the driver. There has been an increase in the interior trim options to include both cloth and vinyl finishes.

While the overall look and feel of the truck retains a familiar Freightliner style, the first impression made by the bonnet design, making a very strong statement, has stiffened the back bone of the brand. Truck buyers will be impressed by the style changes but will be looking for assurances the build quality coming out of the US assembly plants has been improved. This is something Freightliner has been working hard on, both here and in the US.

Another of the problems faced by the Freightliner organisation here in Australia is to try and fill the hole left by the removal of the Sterling range a couple of years ago. Although the Sterling was based on the same chassis and driveline layout as the Freightliner, the truck was sold into more rugged applications, so its stablemate and perceptions that the Freightliner is not a direct substitute for the old Sterling models remain.

By going with a more rugged aggressive look to its trucks, Freightliner is announcing its intention to sell the new Severe Duty Coronado into some of the applications that the Sterling models were directed to.

So far, the company has not announced its intentions, in terms of truck models, of what will be sold into the segments traditionally targeted by the Sterling range. In 2011 we are going to see the introduction of more new models aimed specifically at the vocational and construction market, in which the Freightliner brand has struggled in the past.

In terms of the launch of the new Coronado, Freightliner is extending the kind of application it can target at the top end of the truck market. This new model does look the business, at heavy GCMs. Once a few examples get out into the workforce an assessment of their effectiveness can be made. This will also be the first chance for the trucking industry to see whether the new DD 15 is a fitting successor to the Series 60.

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