Scania will soon put an end to a century-long design concept. Sales of the bonneted T-model have declined during the past 10 years and it is no longer defendable to continue developing and producing it. Production will be phased out by October 2005.
“The trend in all our markets is clearly in favour of forward-control trucks. Length regulations and productivity requirements on a competitive market have put an end to the market for bonneted trucks in most parts of the world. With the addition of more robust options in Scania’s new truck range, we provide forward-control trucks that can perform all types of transport tasks at least as efficiently as a bonneted counterpart,” says Group Vice President Gunnar Rustad, responsible for Scania Sales and Services worldwide.
“Globally, Scania sold less than 1,000 T-trucks in 2004 and this is what has tipped the scales. Volumes have halved in Europe and slumped by 90 percent in Latin America over the past decade. The T-model will be phased out globally by October this year,” concludes Gunnar Rustad.
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What’s the public perception of a genuine truck? Asked to draw a truck, a child often intuitively draws a truck with a bonnet. But if you look on the roads, except for North America, such trucks are increasingly rare today.
Reasons for having a bonnet – service access
The original reason for having a bonnet was obvious: accessibility. The engines of early automotive vehicles needed more or less constant care to function properly.
Today’s trucks need very little attention and there is thus no reason to tilt the cab or open the bonnet between services. Hence, accessibility is no issue, because once the cab of a modern forward-control truck has been tilted, accessibility is excellent both to the engine and to all its ancillaries.
Reasons for having a bonnet – safety and comfort
Over the years, drivers have often commented on the feeling of safety and security that they experience behind the wheel of a bonneted truck. The driver sits in a commanding position and looks down an impressive bonnet.
In addition, sitting behind the engine on a longer wheelbase and well behind the front axle, drivers used to appreciate that bonneted trucks gave them a better ride.
Technology has since overtaken these arguments. The protective properties of forward-control truck cabs have been developed almost to perfection, with impact-tested cab structures, yielding protective panels in the cab, cleverly deforming steering columns and improved seats. The introduction of comfortable seatbelts and airbags has also contributed driver protection.
In addition, the ride and drive comfort of forward-control trucks has developed dramatically in recent years and in practice there is now nothing to choose between the two configurations.
Scania has been market leader in bonneted trucks in Europe and Latin America since the early 1990s, being practically alone on the market during the past 15 years.
In Europe, the T-model has fulfilled two distinctly different roles in the transport industry. Some operators have chosen the T-model as a workhorse for tough applications such as construction tasks, often with the short cab and with rugged chassis options.
At the other end of the scale, the T-model has been chosen because of its strong character, acting as an image-bearer for operators wishing to attract extra attention to their business. The T Topline cab is the ultimate choice, gaining attention wherever it is seen and acting as the operator’s mobile advertising board
Volumes for bonneted trucks have shrunk continuously for the past few decades. In the 1970s, bonneted trucks accounted for around 50 percent of Scania’s truck production. The 1980s saw this figure drop to around one-quarter.
By the mid-1990s, the proportion of Scania T-trucks had shrunk to 20 percent and the figure is now down to two percent, or approximately 1,000 units annually on a global level.
Declining customer base in Latin America
In 1996, the bonneted T-model accounted for 90 percent of Scania’s heavy truck sales in Latin America. The Scania T-model was the best-selling heavy truck on the market.
Strangely, bonneted trucks have always been considered a lower-price option to forward-control trucks, a situation that has become increasingly difficult to justify in view of the shrinking volumes. Increased demands on productivity and stricter enforcement of length regulations are also factors speaking in favour of forward-control designs.
Today the market for Scania’s bonneted trucks in Latin America has shrunk by 90 percent.
Scania’s T-model is an exceptional truck! The heritage of this configuration dates back to the first days of the motor vehicle.
Ever since the introduction of Scania’s fully modular product range in 1980, the T-model has been based entirely on the forward-control models, using the same frame, chassis and powertrain.
Thanks to the modular design, the same cab structure has been used, with exceptional space and comfort, as well as outstanding ergonomics.
Scania-Vabis made a brave attempt to move away from bonneted trucks in the early 1930s, inspired by the success of its pioneering ‘bulldog’ bus concept, which was well received. Between 1932 and 1939, a series of 62 forward-control ‘bulldog’ trucks was produced and 25 based on bus chassis. The market was not yet ripe for the forward-control truck concept, which was put on ice until 1963.
So the bulk of the trucks that rolled off the Scania-Vabis assembly lines remained bonneted for several decades. From the late 1930s and through the second world war, great engineering efforts were spent at Scania-Vabis to rationalise both products and production. The first steps were taken towards modularisation of parts and components and despite differences in size, the vehicles got common exterior styling elements.
Scania’s first global truck model in 1958
What put Scania-Vabis on the map in the world of heavy trucks was the L75 model launched in 1958. Produced in both Europe and Latin America in various guises, it remained in production until 1980. Engines were 7 or 10 litres to start with, from 1963 upgraded to 8 and 11 litres respectively.
Summary of designations:
L = 4×2 LS = 6×2 LT = 6×4
Lighter versions with the smaller engine were designated 55 and 65.
The 75 was continuously updated over the years: 76 (1963), 110 (1968), 111 (1974).
Bonneted trucks reigned supreme until the legendary LB76 model appeared in 1963. Scania-Vabis’ entry into the European market dictated the need for a more space-efficient design that complied with new length regulations.
The LB76 model was successful, although it involved a number of compromises to avoid the complexity of a tilting cab. It was replaced by the LB80 and LB110 ranges in 1968, designed from the outset as forward-control models. From then on, forward-control trucks started to dominate production.
In 1969, Scania launched its legendary 14-litre V8-engine, featuring the highest output on the truck market. This engine could not be housed under the narrow bonnet of the L-model, but there was clearly a market for a bonneted V8. Scania’s engineers therefore designed an entirely new bonneted model, the L140. Based entirely on the forward-control LB140 model, it became the first fully modularised model range from Scania and as such a precursor of the GPRT-range launched in 1980.
Fully modularised truck range in 1980
Scania’s GPRT range (sometimes referred to as the 2-series: 82/112/142) became the first fully modularised truck range in the world. The cabs (G, low forward-control; P, normal forward-control; R, high forward-control; T, bonneted) could be combined with chassis of three strengths (M, medium duty; H, heavy duty; E, extra heavy duty) in several wheel configurations and different powertrains from 8 to 14 litres. The result was a truly amazing matrix of possible truck models, of which a relevant selection was actually produced to cater for different market needs.
Ever since, the T-model has been developed in parallel with all other models in Scania’s truck range, featuring equivalent solutions, the latest technological innovations and new powertrains. With its flat floor, it has provided special space and comfort for applications that are not sensitive to length restrictions.
The 3-series was launched in 1988, the 4-series in 1995 and the new truck range in 2004. Through 2004, close to 120,000 Scania T-models have been built, split into 60,000 2-series, 40,000 3-series and 20,000 4-series.
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An image gallery with Scania’s bonneted trucks during 100 years is available at www.scania.com.
For further information, please contact Per-Erik Nordström, Manager Product Affairs,
tel. +46 8 55385577, email firstname.lastname@example.org.