6×2 TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES, BUT CANADIAN REGULATIONS DO NOT
March 31, 2015
March 31, 2015
Not surprisingly in this era of ultra-efficiency, 6×2 axle configurations continue to advance, providing fleets with significant weight savings, meaningful reductions in fuel consumption and opportunities to reduce tire wear. Just not here in Canada, where such axle configurations are currently outlawed.
Canadian rules require the load to be shared equally between both drive axles in a tandem axle configuration at all times. Current-generation 6x2s feature load-shift capabilities that temporarily shift weight to the driven axle in low-traction situations. It should be noted this only happens upon launch and 97% of the time or more, the load is equally distributed.
Still, Canadian regulators have been, for whatever reason, reticent to update the regulations to allow for more efficient 6×2 configurations, even as carriers express interest in the technology. They continue to simultaneously sit on their hands and shrug their shoulders. That’s difficult to do, by the way. I’m surprised they haven’t dislocated their elbows.
At any rate, here is some of the latest 6×2 technology that in Canada remains prohibited for reasons entirely flawed.
From Mack and Volvo comes a 6×2 that when the trailer is empty or lightly loaded, raise the foremost drive axle to operate in a more efficient 4×2 configuration, reducing tire wear and improving fuel economy through reduced rolling resistance. Mack calls this 6×2 with Liftable Pusher Axle while Volvo chose Adaptive Loading.
While some Canadian carriers are running 6x2s today, knowing enforcement of the rules is lax or non-existent, others refuse to take the risk while the configuration remains banned. Having a liftable pusher axle is probably not the best way to fly under enforcement’s radar, if that’s your intent. It’s too bad because there’s a lot to like about this option in the right applications.
Also shown for the first time at MATS is a concept tandem axle from Dana that provides all the traction of a 6×4 upon launch, then converts automatically into a 6×2 at highway speeds.
The AdvanTek Dual Range Disconnect allows the tandem axle to operate as a standard 6×4 with a traditional starting ratio at launch. As the truck reaches highway speeds, an ECU in the axle causes the inter-axle shaft to disconnect from the power divider, allowing the axle to operate in a more efficient 6×2 mode. It also shifts the forward axle to a faster ratio that enables the engine speed to decrease to as low as 900 rpm for highway cruise operation.
The configuration would also enable the use of fewer gears in the transmission and would eliminate the need for larger engine mounts and frame rails while improving launchability, gradeability, driveability and low-speed maneuverability Dana claims. The company plans to begin testing the system with OEMs this year. It’s not yet clear when, if ever, it will be commercialized or at what price point it will be made available.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies