Three revamped Hägglunds vehicles, up to at least 40% more fuel efficient than many of their counterparts in the Antarctic fleet, will be in Antarctica within a few weeks.

Two of these over-snow vehicles are about to head south to Davis. Another has already arrived at Casey. These modified, repowered Cummins engines vehicles are fitted with a common rail electronic fuel injection system and electronic Allison transmissions,. They are at least 40% more fuel efficient than their Mercedes engine counterparts in the Antarctic fleet of 14.

Easier to maintain mechanically, these modified vehicles are also much quieter and warmer to travel in. Each one has been fitted with improved heating at floor level.

Hägglunds are used in a range of Antarctic field activities, and are the prime people movers of choice for most field trips involving over-snow travel.

A prototype vehicle was despatched to Davis last season where it was trialled and later brought back to the Kingston workshop where its modifications were fine tuned before being shipped back to Davis on Voyage 3 in February. Two more Hägglunds have been re-fitted in the same way and both are now bound for Antarctica on the next voyage in February.

These new variants are more suited for use in cold conditions. The Swedish vehicle was originally equipped with a large cooling system as it was designed for −20 degree to +50 degree conditions, ideal for travel in hot, dry deserts. The cooling system was too efficient for use in the Antarctic cold so in these modified vehicles, the radiator and cooling systems have been rebuilt appropriately.

A great deal of thought from the AAD Mechanical Workshop staff has gone into streamlining mechanical maintenance of the Hägglunds. Access to the motor is now possible through a small hatch inside the cab. In their older counterparts, mechanical maintenance involves pulling the entire engine out of the vehicle for certain procedures.

The filtering system is laid out in the rear of the engine and so is much easier to access and maintain.

Unlike the original, unmodified Cummins engines fitted in Hägglunds in Sweden, all re-power components and accessories, such as the Hägglunds pump and radiator, used in the modifications are available off the shelf in Australia. In the past, all spare parts had to be ordered from Sweden. This means the vehicles will be cheaper to keep serviceable and mechanical maintenance training will be simplified.

Until now, the Australian Antarctic Hägglunds fleet has included various engine models so keeping up with the correct spare parts and components has been a challenge. Once rolled out through the entire fleet over the next six years, this new ‘edition’ should last us for the next 20 years!