Features

Stunning rolling billboard delivers on every level

Wants-Freightliner-Cascadia

The Wants Transport Cascadia 126 is a truck version of a burger with the lot. It has the biggest engine you can get in a Cascadia; a 16-litre Detroit, the biggest and tallest sleeper; a 60-inch villa and lots of upgrades; including a system that uses radar to look out for obstacles down the left side of the truck.

Wants Transport boss Matthew Want even decided to tick the box for a factory paint scheme, which meant the truck turned a brilliant shade of blue on the line at Freightliner’s factory in Cleveland, North Carolina.

“I wanted to move away from our traditional white truck with blue and red stripes,” Want said on the phone from the company HQ in Lismore, northern New South Wales.

“The arrival of this truck was the perfect opportunity to make a change, so we went with the factory blue paint and then added a new logo and branding,” he adds.

The result is a stunning rolling billboard that will certainly make people remember the Wants Transport name.

Want came up with the new branding and logo with Ben Daley Signs and the result is a rig that you might expect to see cruising along a Californian freeway.

He has spent quite a bit of time in the US and across the border from Detroit in Canada, where his wife Giselle is from, so he was no stranger to the truck that is by far and away the best-selling truck in the Land of the Free.

“I had seen a lot of Cascadias on the road over there and so I took a closer look when they introduced them here,” said Want.

He did his homework and determined that the Cascadia looked like a winner.

Wants-Freightliner-Cascadia-2After a run in a demonstrator, Want decided to place an order with the team at Murwillumbah Truck Centre and get back into a Freightliner after many years.

He placed his order in April, which turned out to be just about the worst time ever to order a truck.

COVID-19 chaos had disrupted production at the factory that builds the engine and transmission in Detroit and the assembly line down south, before a huge drop-off in international shipping meant it took longer to get here when it was ready to roll.

Finally, about a month ago, the truck was ready to hit the road.

“It took a while to get here, but it really was worth the wait,” Want said.

“We are so happy with it. I think I’m going to get another one.”

That’s a big call seeing Want hasn’t even driven the truck yet and only saw it briefly before it hit the road, but he has two solid reasons.

Firstly, his driver, Jason Olive loves the truck. Secondly, it is saving him money on every single trip.

The truck is hauling either grain or fertiliser as a B-double and it is full almost all the time on its way up to Townsville and back and is up on its weights at 68.5 tonnes.

Even so, it is returning a fuel economy figure of between 1.9and 2km per litre.

“We are just blown away by the fuel economy,” Want said. “Those numbers, when it is full almost all the time, are just amazing. We have a great driver, Jason, who is embracing the technology the truck brings and I’m sure the fuel figures may improve in time.”

The fact that the Cascadia also had tech such as Autonomous Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning and Side Guard Assist, attracted Wants Transport.

“Safety is very important to us, not just the active safety, but also managing fatigue,” Want said.

Driver Jason Olive stepped out of a 2013 rival conventional truck and explains how the Cascadia compares.

“I reckon I am feeling about 80 per cent less fatigued driving this truck, it is crazy,” he said in a hands-free call on the road.

Olive said the Cascadia is a lot less tiring to drive because it does so much of the work thanks to adaptive cruise control and an automated transmission, but is also smoother and far quieter.

Then there is the improved rest he gets.

“The sleeper is so big that even a big bloke could hold a dance in this thing,” he said.

“It’s got a big bed, but I can stand up to use the microwave or get changed and I can walk around.”

Olive said that he has only spent a couple of nights at home in the last month, but he still feels fresh.

“Living in this is easy,” he said.

The battery-powered climate control system gets a big thumbs-up, cooling the truck in the northern heat for eight hours straight over night.

On one recent 40 degree day, Olive was watching TV in the sleeper with a blanket on.

The only thing not optioned was the built-in fridge, so Olive just brought his plug-in unit.

Want ticked the box for the optional bonnet-mounted mirrors that are extremely popular in the United States and provide excellent visibility.

He also chose a double bunk option for the cab, which he thinks could appeal to the next owner.

Want purchased the Cascadia using the Agility finance option, which offers him a guaranteed buyback price if he wants to return it after four years, or allows him to keep it or sell it himself.

“It’s a good way to hedge our bets,” explains Want.

Another assurance is the standard manufacturer warranty of four years or 800,000km (whichever comes first) for the truck and the engine and the five years/500,000km of free Best Basic servicing.    

The Cascadia’s DD16 engine pumps out 600hp and 2050lb-ft of torque, so there is no shortage of pulling power. It is also extremely efficient thanks to the continuous focus the Americans put on saving fuel. This fuel obsession is part of the reason Freightliner has its own full-size wind tunnel in Portland, which means they can come up with the slipperiest design possible. With economy in mind, Want decided against the optional sunvisor, which creates drag, choosing a dark tint at the top of the windscreen instead and it works well.

It also helps that Daimler owns Detroit, so the Detroit-made engine and Detroit transmission are developed to work with each other and the truck right from the start. The truck even uses a GPS-based system to help it save fuel.

This is called Intelligent Powertrain Management, which means the truck can read topographic route data and combine it with the truck’s precise location to advise it how to behave. For example, it knows exactly when to hold on to a gear (and not change up just before the crest of a hill), when to use the engine brake and when to save fuel and just coast (by selecting neutral).    

Want’s parents, John and Janice, who started the business with Want back in 1993, have seen a lot of change. They think the new truck makes a proud statement of about a small family company that has shown resilience in the face of turbulent times.

John grumbles, “It may be a little too flash for a working truck,” but Janice reminds him to trust his son’s judgement and the result speaks for itself.

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