Caterpillar 797, the oil-sands oligarch

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The Caterpillar 797 is the primary vehicle used in oil-sands extraction and other open-pit mining operations. It was developed,  and is manufactured in, the United States by Caterpillar Inc. Since production began in 1998, it has offered the highest payload capacity of any mechanical-drive haul-truck.

A truck this big comes with a price tag to match. Each of the 797's six tires cost $42,500 more than most entry-level automobiles. It also requires far more parts. Whereas regular automotive wheels …