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Cat unveils much anticipated vocational truck

LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- Caterpillar has taken the wraps off a stunning new vocational truck that will be suitable for a full range of vocations.

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Caterpillar has taken the wraps off a stunning new vocational truck that will be suitable for a full range of vocations.

The set-back axle (SBA) Caterpillar CT660 was unveiled to industry journalists prior to Conexpo-Con/Agg on Sunday and surprisingly, it was painted viper red, a departure from Caterpillar’s trademark yellow and black. The new truck was also significantly different in appearance than the International PayStar it was based on, or as Caterpillar officials referred to it as, the “donor truck.”

“To say everything above the frame rail is new is a fair statement,” said Gary Blood, product manager, vocational trucks. “There is very little carryover inside the interior. We even did things like, we didn’t like how the window lift worked so there are now two window lifts per door.”

Attention to detail was the theme during the CT660’s design process, which included heavy consultation with customers. Cat wasn’t afraid to deviate from industry norms with its debut model. The tired wood grain paneling so often found on truck dashes has been replaced with brushed aluminum, giving the interior a modern look. Cat also integrated the speedometer and the tach into a single gauge to better utilize dash space.

The glove box has been replaced with a removable storage bin. And drivers of all sizes will find a comfortable place to rest their left elbow: a folding armrest, the door handle or for taller drivers, the window sill.

The CT660’s exterior is equally unique. It has a three-piece stainless steel bumper that’s easy to repair. The end pieces will bend back 180-degrees before causing damage to the centre section. Composite plastic fender sections are damage-resistant and easy to replace.

The honeycomb grille is framed by a stylish three-piece stainless grille surround. The cab is aluminum, saving about 250 lbs compared to steel, Blood noted, and the sloped hood affords excellent visibility. Visibility is further enhanced with optional convex mirrors over the doors, which were favoured over a Fresnel lens inside the door since they can fill with water or become obstructed by items inside the cab. Cat officials also said the CT660 offers a best in class turning radius.

“We have touched every panel on this cab. It is not the same cab the parent donor started out with,” Blood said. Cat even changed how the mirrors were mounted onto the A-pillars and improved accessibility to the doghouse panel as it Caterpillarized the CT660.

Improved door seals and a standard enhanced insulation package make the cab super quiet, Cat officials insisted, although the truck hasn’t yet been made available for road tests.

Under the hood is a yellow-painted International MaxxForce 11 or 13, rebadged the Cat CT11 and CT13 with a CT15 to come later. Subtle enhancements have been made to make the engines a true Caterpillar, but Blood admitted the engine is not much of a departure from the International base engine. The engines will use advanced EGR and will come in power ratings ranging from 330 to 550 hp (once the CT15 is brought on-line) and torque ratings from 1,450 to 1,850 lb.-ft. The truck will be available with a wide range of manual and automated transmissions, but Cat’s own CX31 will be a notable option. The fully automatic transmission has six forward speeds and one reverse gear.

Caterpillar will begin taking orders for the CT660 in April and commence production in May with initial deliveries to begin in July. The CT15 will be available in the first quarter of 2012, and Cat has already announced a set-forward axle CT680 will be the next member of the family, available in the first quarter of 2013. Pricing for the CT660 is not yet available – and will depend largely on the specifications – but it will be priced like a premium product.

A full report on the Cat CT660 will be available in the May issues of Truck News and Truck West. The truck will also be featured in an upcoming episode of our weekly WebTV show, Transportation Matters on

Click here to see video of the unveiling.

Click here to see George Taylor discuss why he feels the new Cat truck will be a hit.

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