I can't remember when there was more anticipation about a new truck model coming out. Cat's new on-highway vocational truck, the CT660, will be officially unveiled later this month at ConExpo show in Las Vegas. HDT Senior Editor Tom Berg will be there.

When we looked at the Truckinginfo stories that had the most hits in 2010, Cat stories had the two top spots: "Cat-Brand Trucks to Roam Highways in Australia," a guest column by Steve Brooks, editor in chief of Australia's Diesel magazine; and "Frustrated Customers Sue Cat Over Acert Failures."

Those two stories sort of illustrate the love-hate relationship many truckers have with Cat. When I got into this business over 20 years ago, writing for an owner-operator magazine, it seemed like every independent wanted a four-and-a-quarter Cat under the hood. But after problems with the 2007-emissions Acert engines mounted, Cat decided to get out of the on-highway engine business in the U.S. Their engines are still being used to power trucks globally, as in the NC2 joint venture trucks it unveiled in cooperation with Navistar in Australia last year.

It's unknown at this point how similar the CT660 vocational truck being launched here will be to the on-highway CT610 and CT630 Down Under. 

We do know, from a press release Cat sent out last fall teasing the ConExpo announcement, that Caterpillar will offer the heavy-duty Cat Vocational Day Cab Trucks with a range of engine ratings: a Cat CT11 engine with ratings from 330bhp to 390 hp, a Cat CT13 with ratings from 410 hp to 475 hp and, coming in 2012, a Cat CT15 with ratings from 435 hp to 550 hp. An option will be the Cat CX31 torque converter style automatic transmission, with three standard locations for Rear Power Take Off drive positions. Caterpillar also offers a complete line of other OEM vocational transmission options, including Eaton manual and automated manual transmissions.

A dealer website at Holt of California offers some bullet points on some of the truck's features, including the "eye-catching robust all-metal grille" we see in the Cat teaser video, aluminum alloy cab construction, excellent over-hood visibility, optimized day-cab suspension design, ergonomic cab, premium sound insulation kit, and more.

Since announcing the new line of on-highway Class 8 Cat Trucks in 2008, personnel at all 54 U.S. and Canadian dealerships, including their over 400 service locations and 2,300 service bays, have been training to make sure they're ready to support the new Class 8 truck from Cat.