The curtain drew back and for a minute Caterpillar's new vocational truck was obscured by ceremonial smoke during its unveiling on Sunday. But when the smoke cleared, it was apparent that this is no mere badge-engineered model borrowed from Cat's partner, Navistar International.
CT660's tall, sculpted nose has stainless steel trim around the grille and over the bumper. They and the metan plastic hood are in several pieces for easy replacement when damaged - examples of design details applied to the Cat Truck.
CT660's tall, sculpted nose has stainless steel trim around the grille and over the bumper. They and the metan plastic hood are in several pieces for easy replacement when damaged - examples of design details applied to the Cat Truck.


The CT (for Cat Truck) 660, painted viper red instead of the expected machinery yellow, is the result of thousands of hours of research, design and engineering by Cat specialists, executives said during several hours of presentations and conversations.

Cat designers changed many items from the "donor truck," International's PayStar, as they moved the four-year project to this point, said Gary Blood, the product manager. Hood styling is unique and assertive, and the cab has its own instruments, dashboard and interior panels.

The aluminum cab structure is stronger with details like redundant window regulators - two per window instead of one - to ensure ruggedness. Doors are on piano hinges and mirrors are mounted on the cowl for reduced vibration. Doors are well sealed against noise and the doghouse is easily opened for access to the rear of the engine.

The Navistar engines will be painted yellow and carry CT designations, and will have a governed speed of 2,100 rpm, the traditional red line for vocational diesels, Blood said. Otherwise they are not changed from Navistar versions, and like them will use Advanced Exhaust Gas Recirculation, high-pressure multi-shot fuel injection and other features. All avoid fluid-based exhaust aftertreatment.

Ratings for the CT 10.5- and 12.4-liter engines will range from 330 to 475 horsepower and 1,250 to 1,700 pounds-feet. The 15-liter engine will come later; it uses block, crankshaft and connecting rods from Cat's C15.

Automatic, automated and manual transmissions will be available; the automatic is Cat's own CX31 six-speed , based on transmissions used in off-road machinery. The other gearboxes come from Eaton. The CT15's stronger torque will require use of the CX36 for those wanting the automatic transmission option.

The CT series will eventually encompass several models, but starts with the CT660. It has a setback steer axle because the majority of trucks in the U.S. are so equipped, Cat's research showed. A CT860 with a forward-set axle is almost two years away because engineering resources are limited, Blood said. A cabover model is being discussed.

Available axles are from Meritor, Dana and Fabco on multileaf front suspensions and Hendrickson and Chalmers rear suspensions.

The CT660 will initially be available as a 6x4, with 6x6 and 8x6 axle configurations coming. In early 2013 a CT680 model with a forward-set steer axle will be added, and a cabover is being discussed. Production begins in May and CTs will begin arriving at Cat dealers in June.

CTs will be sold and serviced only by Cat dealers, who have served trucking customers for more than 40 years because of Cat's now-ended truck engine business, Blood said. Dealers are preparing to support the new trucks by stocking parts and tools and training sales people and technicians.

The CT will be premium priced, like Cat machinery, but customers will see the value that it brings, dealer representatives said. They expect their current machinery customers to be the best prospects for the new vocational truck, and a number of customers have said they want to buy some.

Cat's top executives asked if the truck would be yellow, but customers asked if they could get other colors, Blood related. So virtually thousands of colors, including Cat yellow, are available, in two-, three- and four-tone paint schemes if customers want.


More info: www.drivecat.com

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