Caterpillar has finally launched its first on-highway truck, the CT660, and says it will start taking orders for the 6×4 set-back axle version next month. Production starts in May with deliveries scheduled for June. Expect a premium price.

The company says 6×6 and 8×6 axle configurations are coming, and early in 2013 you’ll see a CT680 model with a set-forward front axle. The CT660 comes with either 116- or 122-in. BBC configurations.

As speculated, the truck is based on the International PayStar, and in fact it’s built under contract by Navistar at the latter’s plant in Garland, Texas. On the same assembly line as the PayStar, no less. But the Cat is much less a product of badge engineering than might have been expected.

The frame rails are common, but modifications to the cab are extensive – including piano-style door hinges – and the hood and interior are wholly different. Cat has emphasized driver comfort, and its experience in cab design shows clearly here.

Power will come from the Cat-branded CT11 or CT13, and next year the CT15, all using ‘advanced’ EGR emission control. Aside from the brand, they’re all unchanged International MaxxForce diesels with horsepower ratings from 330 to 550 and torque ratings from 1450 to 1850 lb ft.

Cat will offer a range of Eaton transmissions plus its own fully automatic CX31 with six forward speeds and one reverse, or its CX36 with the CT15 and its higher torque ratings.

For more info see Lockwood’s Product Watch e-newsletter, March 31 edition.

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