DEVELOPING AN ENTIRELY NEW TRANSMISSION COMPONENT, ESPECIALLY ONE THAT IS DESTINED FOR A LOW-VOLUME NICHE, IS A TOUGH CALL. THE TURBO RETARDER CLUTCH (TRC) MADE A BIG SPLASH WHEN IT APPEARED IN THE MERCEDES-BENZ HEAVY HAULAGE SLT IN EARLY 2014, BUT IT HAS ANOTHER POTENTIAL LIFE, AS VOITH’S VIAB. IAN NORWELL INVESTIGATES.
When we drove the Mercedes-Benz SLT at their Munsingen test track launch, (HeavyTorque January 2015), we found an already impressive truck in an updated heavy haulage form, but with a truly astonishing – and new – transmission component, the TRC. We called it a game-changer then, and we stand by that comment. As far as Mercedes-Benz are concerned, it is selling well. It’s true that if anyone buys a heavy haulage Mercedes SLT to operate at over 120 tonnes, they get the TRC as standard, but the volumes look impressive for a so-called ‘niche’ market. In the UK, there are 46 TRCs at work, 41 of which are working above 120 tonnes. An additional 36 UK-based SLT’s are out there, running with just the 16-speed version of M-B’s PowerShift3 automated manual box. What we had expected to be a bit of a rarity in early 2014, turns out not to be the case. 2015 has seen 34 registered, seven more in build for registration this year, and eleven are in build for 2016. They are adding up.