TOWERING more than 13ft tall, this mammoth truck is gearing up for a trans-Atlantic trip today.
Engineering experts GT Group has hit a manufacturing milestone as part of a multimillion-pound order from American company Ground Force.
The heavy-duty truck and mining equipment company boss of Ground Force, John Chambers, made a special trip from its Idaho base for the handover of the first long-wheelbase truck to be built at GT Group’s Pallion shipyard base.
The vehicle will be shipped to America to be showcased in one of the biggest mining equipment exhibitions in the world.
GT Group chairman Geoff Turnbull said: “This is a great day for us. The business is growing much faster than we first thought. We’re delighted with that.
“We are seeing the first 730 LWB fuel and lube truck being handed over today.
“Hopefully, we will raise significant interest with orders to follow.
“This is great news for Sunderland as this partnership will continue to create more jobs for welders, fitters and platers.”
The truck will be used to service even bigger vehicles in quarries and mines with oil, water and fuel.
The MINExpo International 2012, which attracts more than 1,800 exhibitors, takes place in Las Vegas next month.
Two larger vehicles – 740 models – are due to be delivered by GT Group as part of its partnership with Ground Force later this month and in September.
Mr Chambers said: “The MINExpo International is a significant event in our sector’s business calendar.
“It was imperative that this truck was completed in time to appear at this global-scale event.
“GT Group has an outstanding reputation for its state-of-the-art engineering capabilities. That was why we decided to award this prestige contract to the company.
“GT Group has more than met our expectations by meeting a challenging deadline without compromising on quality or service.”
The vehicles’ chassis are being supplied by the Caterpillar facility, in Peterlee, with GT Group manufacturing the bespoke bodies, which are earmarked for export to Russian and European markets.
The Ground Force deal is helping GT Group hit its target of increasing its workforce to 500 in the next three years and its turnover to more than £80million.