Swedish heavyweights

Scania will be well known to most MMI readers as a major Swedish manufacturer of commercial vehicles, specifically heavy trucks and buses. However, the company also manufactures diesel engines for other heavy vehicles (including military), marine use, and other general industrial applications.

In 1900, Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania was founded in Malmo in the south of Sweden as a manufacturer of bicycles. By 1903 the first cars had left the factory, and two years later Scania built their first truck.

Scania’s origins (through merger) actually trace back to 1891 and Vabis (Vagnsfabriksaktiebolaget i Sodertalje), Vabis founded in 1891 as a railway carriage-manufacturing subsidiary of Sodertalje-based steel company Surahammars Bruk. In 1902, engineer Gustaf Erikson designed the company’s first truck, this powered by a petrol engine and featuring two gears. The first order for a Vabis commercial vehicle was placed a year later in 1903, and 1907 saw the inauguration of a new factory, specifically for the manufacture of automobiles and engines.

A new 3-ton truck was developed, and despite this winning the Swedish Royal Automobile Club award for 1909, orders were low and Surahammars Bruk resolved to sell Vabis. In 1911 Vabis and Maskinfabriks-aktiebolaget Scania merged to create AB Scania-Vabis. Engine and car production was moved to Soderta lje, with truck production taking place in Malmo.

Scania-Vabis merged with Saab in 1969 to form Saab-Scania AB, and when the two split again in 1995 the name of the truck and bus division changed to the simpler Scania AB. In 1996 Scania AB was introduced on the stock exchange.

Fellow Swedish truck maker Volvo attempted to take over Scania in 1999, however, the attempt failed as did a similar attempt by MAN in 2006. Currently the two major stockholders of Scania AB are Volkswagen AG and MAN SE. Volkswagen AG has a 70.94% voting stake (equity), while MAN SE holds a 17.37% voting stake. As a further twist, Volkswagen AG also owns a 29.9% voting stake in MAN.

The short version of that is simply Scania is not Swedish, it is German, the majority of the company owned by Volkswagen!

Defence Market

Scania has defence market approach for its trucks that is pretty much unique to the company, and one that in recent years has served it extremely well. Some company’s offer only purpose-designed trucks to the defence market, Oshkosh of the United States a good example here. Others, of which IVECO, MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Renault are all good examples, offer purpose-designed trucks alongside militarised versions of their commercial product range, this militarisation ranging from no more than a coat of green paint through to modifications that leave the base truck almost unrecognisable. Scania’s trucks for defence applications, like the company’s commercial trucks, are based (with an absolute minimum of exceptions) on the modular use of its extensive range of cabs, chassis and driveline aggregates.

Mirroring its commercial range, Scania’s current military offerings are based on the P, G and R Series, and as of early-2013 these have GVWs ranging from 16- to 58-tonnes, and a GCWs ranging from 30- to 180-tonnes, although GCW may be increased to >250-tonnes with special specifications and conditions.

Military trucks traditionally have higher unladen weights and lower payload ratings than their nearest commercial equivalent, a current generation military (8×8) likely to have an unladen weight of up to 21-tonnes, with a payload rating of around 15-tonnes… Tank/heavy equipment transporters are unlikely to exceed 130-tonnes GCW, payload unlikely to top 70-tonnes for most applications.

Motive power for current P, G and R series trucks is provided by four basic Scania engines: a nine-litre five-cylinder unit developing from 230 to 360 hp; a 12-litre six-cylinder unit developing from 360 to 470 hp; a 13-litre six-cylinder unit developing 360 to 480 hp, and a 16-litre V8 unit developing from 500 to 730 hp.

Engines meeting EURO 3,4, 5 or 6 requirements and utilising either EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) or SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) emissions technology are available. EURO 3 EGR engines are often preferable to armed forces with experience of deployed operations where prolonged austere operating conditions exist, to say nothing of a need to operate on NATO-standard F34/JP8 (jet fuel), this not something EURO 5 engines appreciate, and something that will offer up considerable technical (and logistic) challenges for EURO 6 engines…

Driveline options include 8- and 12-speed manual gearboxes with a conventional clutch and with/without crawler gears or splitters, the majority of manual gearboxes available with Scania’s Opticruise (automated gearbox) and/or a retarder. For combinations above 150-tonnes GCW a torque converter option is available. Allison fully automatic gearbox options are available in combination with engines of up to 420 hp. Single-or double-reduction drive axles complete the driveline, conventional C-section chassis frames usually taken from the construction/heavy-duty ranges. A wide range of cab options (including four-door) are available in three major types, P (low-mounted), G (mid-mounted) and R (high-mounted), with G and R the most common for military applications.

One cab option not offered to commercial customers, but based on Scania’s modular range, is an armoured option. Developed in conjunction with Sweden’s Akers Krutbruk, Scania’s latest (4th) generation protected cab option completed verification testing in 2012. In keeping with Scania’s preference, a benign-in-appearance solution has been chosen, and while it may not be immediately obvious to the untrained eye, this 4th generation cab is in fact an exchangeable unit; previous generations effectively being fixed or add-on kits.

Protection levels cannot be disclosed (for obvious reasons), however, those offered by this latest cab are an improvement on earlier generations, and are believed to at least match those of an armoured personnel carrier (APC). This latest cab has been developed with particular attention paid to the effects of the improvised explosive device (IED), the insurgent’s current weapon of choice. To minimise weight while maximising protection, >90% of the armour is lighter-than-steel ceramic composite material. Chassis-mounted anti-tank mine protection is also available. The first customer for this 4th generation solution is understood to be Luxembourg, which has ordered 31 Scania G480CB8x8HHZ (8×8) trucks, eight of these to be fitted with armoured cabs, and an additional five cabs supplied for exchange use.

Scania’s modular use of its commercial component range will not suit all military customers, however, its small dedicated military projects team have proven most adept at selecting those customers it will suit (and those it will not…), and in these difficult financial times the company probably has the best current military contract compete/win ratio of any of its main competitors.

The largest single user of Scania’s militarised trucks is Sweden, which along with fellow users and Nordic neighbours Norway and Finland could soon operate more if Scania wins a soon-to-be-decided competition that includes MAN and Mercedes-Benz…

Other interesting, and possibly not immediately obvious users of Scania trucks that for a variety of reasons are worthy of mention include France, Holland and Turkey.

France, a traditional stronghold of Renault, placed its first sizeable order with Scania in 2002, this calling for 242 R114CB6x6HZ340 (6×6) 10,000-litre fuel tankers. These were built at Scania’s Angers facility in France. To date the French military has ordered around 450 assorted Scania trucks, the most recent order being for 13 (+ 22 optional) highly unusual (8×6) tractor units that will mount France-specific armoured cabs and pumping equipment for 20,000-litre fuel tanker semi-trailers; deliveries commence later this year.

The Dutch Army announced in October 2003 that in a deal worth up to €172.5 million it had selected Scania (in preference to Mercedes-Benz (Actros)) to supply 548 R124CB8x8HZ420 (8×8) trucks fitted with a Multilift load handling system (LHS) and seven with container side loaders from Hammar Maskin. The order included 20 trucks to the Navy with a 1.5 m fording capability, and 262 3rd generation armoured cab kits from Akers Krutbruk.

Despite a taxing specification which limited the overall height of these (8×8) trucks to 4m when laden with an 8ft 6in ISO container, only three components from outside of Scania’s modular range were used in build… Assembled at Scania’s Dutch subsidiary, Scania Production Zwolle BV, these trucks were projected to have an operational lifetime of at least 13 years, based on an annual mileage of 30.000 km; currently some average less than 7,000 km per year…

During 2011, and as a subcontractor to local prime contractor HEMA ENDUSTRI A.S., Scania supplied its first trucks to the Turkish Army. The 45 R480CB6x6 (6×6) tank transporter tractors will be used with a locally supplied semi-trailer, and with an ongoing Turkish Army requirement for

1.000 new MBTs, Scania will doubtless be hopeful of additional orders in the future.

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