When Ohara Corporation decided to upgrade its range of snow groomers for the first time in two decades, it wanted an engine with low emissions and noise levels without sacrificing torque. Most engine suppliers winced at the complexity of the task.
In Japan, snow requires a gentle touch. The country’s ski slopes sit at a lower altitude than in Europe or the United States, leaving the snow more humid and powdery. The air is kept pristine by one of the world’s strictest emissions regulations, passed in 2015.
“The new emissions regulations in Japan has really raised the bar,” says Minoru Baba, Assistant Chief of Vehicle Design at Ohara Corporation. “We checked with quite a few engine suppliers. We saw that Scania’s engines had passed European standards, which are similar to those in Japan, and we knew they worked well in winter conditions.”
Ohara was already using Scania engines in its Arctic exploration vehicles, which have to meet the toughest environmental standards going. Pleased with the results, the company decided to remodel its mid-range snow groomer around a 9-litre 350 hp Scania engine.
“We already had new features for the upgrade, so once we got the Scania engine into place things progressed smoothly,” says Baba during a break in testing the new model, which goes on sale in November. “The passion that Scania had for the task made it easy to work together.”
Less maintenance with compact design
The engine’s compact design, which doesn’t require a diesel particulate filter, suggests it will also require less service and maintenance – a key factor in sales, Baba says.
The result after more than two years of joint effort is a machine that is quieter, faster and more stable than previous models. It is lighter than European groomers and has a rear shredder to help it climb Japan’s narrow slopes and smooth out lumps of ice.
As the sun rises, Baba climbs back into the enlarged three-person cabin. Unlike in rival machines, the driver sits in the middle in a low-backed seat that makes descents more comfortable.
Snow grooming is tough work. Japanese operators drive for up to eight hours a day, often starting their shift at 2 am. They need a machine that is nimble and easy to use, yet reliable and modern.
“I wanted to make the kind of machine that I’d like to ride,” Baba says.
Ohara Corporation chose the Scania 9-litre 350 hp engine because it combined high torque with low emissions and noise levels. Low maintenance costs could be an added bonus.