The demands being made on truck manufacturers these days in terms of new legislation – specially relating to fuel economy and emissions – require the investment of huge resources and DAF has a team of 800 engineers working at its research and development centre in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
The latest milestone for this team has been the 2014 roll-out of a new range of trucks which comply with the very stringent Euro 6 regulations which became mandatory for new registrations in the European Union at the end of 2013. This was the biggest project in the 85-year history of DAF and cost about R14-billion.
Engine development is a huge undertaking and here the team has the use of 34 test cells, while there is an increasing focus on continuously cutting sound levels, with many customers saying the very quiet cab is a major factor for buying a DAF truck.
The engineers also have a modern and very comprehensive test facility at Sing-Oedenrode, about 20km from Eindhoven. This facility has a wide range of road surfaces and a large number of specialised test roads, including steep grades and off-road sections.
The latest product to come from the R&D centre is the 72 decibel Silent Distribution Truck which will be displayed for the first time at the IAA truck show in Hannover this month. This low sound level permits the special CF truck-tractor and freighter derivatives to be used for urban deliveries at night. The Silent Truck uses the 10.8-litre PACCAR MX-11 Euro 6 engine developing 290hp of power and 320kW of torque for this application.
The driver simply has to push the “Silent” button on the instrument panel to cut noise levels by limiting torque and engine speed while the gears are shifted at lower speeds. The gearbox itself is encapsulated in sound deadening material.
This addition to the already comprehensive CF model range will go on sale in Europe in 2015.
DAF was also the first European truck maker to market a hybrid distribution truck. The system uses either diesel engine power, electric motor power or a combination of the two power sources. The system can cut emissions by as much as 20%. It is currently assembled in Taiwan where it is favoured by local legislation.
DAF’s care for the environment extends to its manufacturing operations. For instance there is no longer any waste that goes to landfill from its various factory sites.