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Why do conventional trucks dominate the US?

  1. Jun 19, 2010 #1
    Why is it that in the US you mostly see conventional 18 wheelers, while in Europe you have COE (Cab over engine). I've read that it's likely due to regulations regarding maximum length. In the US one only looks at the length of the trailer as opposed to Europe where the length of the entire vehicle is considered. In Europe this obviously means that a shorter truck equals more freight capacity. Fair enough, but still I don't get why conventional trucks dominate the US. Why would you want a truck that's longer that it needs to be? For one thing a COE-truck would give you more manouverbility.
     
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  3. Jun 19, 2010 #2

    mgb_phys

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    Same reason you have washing machines and kitchen appliances that look like they are from the 1950s, or the reason people drive pick-up trucks on the school run.

    It's an amazingly conservative society -
     
  4. Jun 19, 2010 #3
    well, we do have a lot of room here in the US. space isn't so much an issue until you get into cities, where you will actually see more of those compact designs you mentioned. but for interstate freight, it's not a problem.
     
  5. Jun 19, 2010 #4

    turbo

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    In cities, you'll see very short "switchers" that are used to back truck trailers into docks that are hard to get to. Those trucks can be very short and tiny, and are generally very low-geared. They are not designed to actually haul trailers from point A to B - just to take a trailer from a lot and transfer it to a dock for unloading.
     
  6. Jun 20, 2010 #5

    Astronuc

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    Conventional trucks are easier for an individual to work on with respect to the engine, they are more stable, especially with more aerodynamic noses, and they give more protection in a crash. COEs were more popular in the 1970s and perhaps into 80s, IIRC. I used to see a lot more COEs, particularly the CF/White Freightliners.
     
  7. Jun 20, 2010 #6

    EnumaElish

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    Driving a COE would give me a nightmare. I'd see myself in the cab when suddenly there is a clicking sound and the cab tilts forward (exposing the engine), me doubled-up over the steering wheel, watching the road flow at 75 mph.

    I also have heard that a vehicle with an extensive engine compartment ("hood") would minimize eye strain (and road trance?) relative to another with a smaller compartment. In the short vehicle the driver would be "seeing" (albeit unconsciously) the tiresome, constant flow of the road very near; in the long vehicle he can focus on the road ahead, which would minimize eye strain.
     
  8. Jun 20, 2010 #7

    mgb_phys

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    Good point - I guessed modern trucks are all on fleet lease arrangements rather than owner/driver.

    Not sure about that, Volvo and Mercedes sell pretty well on their safety standards.
     
  9. Jun 20, 2010 #8
    The US trucks tend to service larger areas than European trucks, and cab overs aren't nearly as comfortable a ride.
     
  10. Jun 20, 2010 #9
    Scania and Iveco make great trucks in Europe, but I have never seen any of them here in Canada. I don't think there are any in US either. But Scania is like the "Rolls-Royce" of trucks!



    http://fondoscoches.com.es/images/wallpapers/iveco-stralis-127492.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2010
  11. Jun 20, 2010 #10
  12. Jun 20, 2010 #11

    Moonbear

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    Cost may also be an issue. I don't know if the two styles differ substantially or not. But, for long-haul trucking, drivers aren't really concerned with having a compact cab. Actually, they're usually looking for larger, sleeper cabs so they can have their TV, mini-fridge, bed, and other comforts when sleeping at truck stops so much of their life. The more compact designs are better suited for the short-hauls for deliveries in cities, but then you don't see as many tractor-trailers in cities at all. If the cargo can fit into a box truck or van for city deliveries, that's preferred, for the sake of parking.
     
  13. Jun 20, 2010 #12

    mgb_phys

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    According to Volvo's site it's because of overall vehicle length rules in the EU - short cab = more cargo room.
    They also make hooded versions for North America

    Cab-overs still have sleepers, even in tiny little europe it's quite a long drive form Poland or Greece to Scotland !
     
  14. Jun 20, 2010 #13

    Evo

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    So like traveling through part of Texas.
     
  15. Jun 21, 2010 #14

    brewnog

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    Texas is what, 800 miles across? It's thousands of miles from Greece to Scotland!
     
  16. Jun 21, 2010 #15
    If your drive takes more than 24 hours, you save a lot of money having the sleeper in your truck. It can take a week or more (2900 miles) to drive from the West coast in the United States to the East. These truckers don't stop driving once they drop their load either, they pick up another and head back.
     
  17. Jun 21, 2010 #16

    turbo

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    Also, a lot of long-haul truckers drive in teams and take turns driving and sleeping. A couple of my closest friends years ago did just that. They had a reputation for delivering loads on time and in good condition, so they got some very lucrative runs of refrigerated produce. Some of their best-paying runs were for very perishable fruits and berries. Stawberries from Fresno to Montreal was a favorite, and it helped greatly that one of the guys was quite fluent in French. Long-wheelbase tractors with air-ride suspensions are easier on the drivers and on the load than shorter tractors. They ran a long-wheelbase Peterbilt with a strong Cat diesel engine. Cat engines are very torquey and saved them time and money in the mountains. Those guys could pile the miles on, stopping only for bathroom breaks, fuel, and showers. I'd get to see them usually only one weekend a month or so, when they had an opportunity to take a short lay-over.
     
  18. Jun 21, 2010 #17

    Office_Shredder

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    1753 miles from Athens to Edinburgh, which is about half the width of the US coast to coast

    Warsaw to Edinburgh is only 1000 miles, which is pretty close to Texas
     
  19. Jun 21, 2010 #18

    mheslep

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    Almost 2000mi Athens to Glasgow, but with a train ride across the Channel.
     
  20. Jun 21, 2010 #19

    lisab

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    Conventional trucks dominate the roads because if they are, well, conventional.
     
  21. Jun 21, 2010 #20

    mgb_phys

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    With slightly better scenery !
     
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