When we think of Ireland and high powered trucks, the usual assumption is it’ll be a Scania V8. Ever since the days of the 140, the Irish have continued to buy the highest powered offerings from one Swedish manufacturer, while shying away from the other.
True, there were F89s and plenty of F12s sold, but we need only point to the fact that not one new F16 was ever sold in the Republic of Ireland. Let that sink in for a minute. There were a handful sold in the north and registered on the northern (UK) system, but the only ones ever registered on Republic plates were a few which came in second hand from the UK.
The original FH was a huge success offering a level of comfort that far exceeded anything that could be offered by Scania, but Irish buyers were reluctant to take the plunge on a 16-litre model. Perhaps tales of high fuel consumption from the original F16 were still making buyers wary. Besides, once the 460 engine was introduced back in 2000, they had a serious contender which was known to show a clean pair of wheels to many a 164 480 despite all the bluster about V8s. Continuing with the version two and three, not much had changed in Ireland, the vast majority of buyers sticking with the well proven 13-litre with 480, 500, 520, or even the 540 if you were really lucky as a driver.
Things seem to have changed a little with the fourth generation FH. That’s not to say the country is awash with FH16s, but there certainly are a few more than in the days of old.
The most common trend is for a fleet to buy a 750 as a flagship. Finding other versions of the 16-litre 650 and 550 is a hens teeth job. Digesting all of the above should make the following fact all the more impressive; a small haulier from southeastern Ireland operates the largest fleet of version four FH16s in Ireland - or the UK!
James Ormonde explains why he came to buy his first FH16 back in 2016; “I was still driving myself at that stage and was interested in more power. The logical step up from the 540 was the FH16 650 and I was very clear about what I wanted when I spoke with the dealer.” So impressed was James with his original FH16 650, that he bought another in 2017, three in 2018, one in 2019 and one in 2020, bringing the total to seven.
“The FH16s are a serious truck. I’m very happy with them and reckon they won’t be beaten for comfort and power.” Seeing as we are in Ireland, I feel almost obliged to ask the fuel question. “They are no heavier on diesel than our 540s. We’re loaded to 46 tonnes 70% of the time, on a lot of stop-start routes, so any truck will return the same mpg figure more or less. With the power of the FH16s it makes for a more relaxed drive however.”
James is full of praise for the I-shift gearbox and says he has never felt the need to pay the extra for a dual clutch on his previous 540s; he has two 2015 and one 2016 models. “I’ve heard a lot of good reports about the dual clutch and don’t doubt any of them. But its horses for courses I think. Maybe if we were doing lighter work I’d be going for a dual clutch 540 over a 650, but I’ve got exactly the truck I needed, with lots of torque and a good price – it’s the same with all of the trucks you see here today.”
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