Australia is the home of the road train, but other countries such as the US, China and Mexico also use road trains to transport goods across long distances.
Australia really is its true home, currently holding the Guinness World Record for the longest road train. In 2006 around eight thousand spectators were on hand to witness a single prime mover driven by 70 year old John Atkinson from Brisbane, pulling no less than 113 trailers over a distance of 150m. End to end the vehicle was nearly 1.5km in length (1474.3m to be precise), taking up a fair stretch of road in Clifton on the Darling Downs, Queensland where the record attempt took place.
Atkinson beat the previous world record of 1445m set in Kalgoorlie in WA. You’d have to guess that Atkinson didn’t need truck finance to buy the trailers – we’re thinking he ‘borrowed’ them from a few mates!
The race to drive the longest road train started in 1989 when an Australian trucker known only as ‘Buddo’, hauled twelve trailers down the main street in Window, Queensland. Four years later this record was beaten by another driver, ‘Plugger’, who hauled sixteen trailers with a Mack Superliner, and was almost immediately beaten by Malcolm Chisholm towing 21 trailers weighing 290 tonnes.
After another three or four record breaking ‘tows’ and the WA record above, the 2006 record still stands. Most of the tows have been by Mack Trucks, with the exception of one in 2000, which was completed by Doug Gould using a Kenworth C501T. Unlike the more recent records, he actually drove the road train 8kms, not just a few hundred metres!
One of the reasons Australia leads the pack in the road train size stakes is that it allows the largest road trains in the world, both in terms of length and weight. Some trucks can exceed 220 tonnes in total weight.
Volvo – soon to be biggest truck company in the world?
The Swedish car and truck manufacturer announced last month the acquisition of a 45% stake in Chinese manufacturer Dongfeng and said it was likely to become the largest truck manufacturing company in the world after the acquisition, overtaking Daimler.
The company already owns many of the world’s famous truck brands, including Renault, Mack, UD Trucks and Eicher, as well as the Volvo brand itself. The acquisition, which is due to take place in the next twelve months, will include what the company describes as ‘the major part of DFG’s medium and heavy duty commercial vehicles business’ and is worth $900M.
Prior to this announcement Volvo flagged a 23% drop in sales against the previous year, the biggest drop since 2009. The figures were worse in Europe (30% down) and North America (38% down). South America bucked the trend with a 36% increase in sales. The company expects a difficult first quarter and flat sales in Europe and North America in 2013.