“The tension, the buzz, the atmosphere!”

Thursday, June 27, 2019
A great show with a better buzz and energy than ‘15 or ’17, full of lots of stuff you couldn’t quite get your hands on, and lots of stuff you could. But one thing’s for sure, there are battle lines being drawn everywhere.

Photo: The Freightliner Cascadia RHD, a weekend off the rigours of shakedown testing. Early 2020. 

It was a great Brisbane Truck Show and numbers through the gates at the city’s Convention and Exhibition Centre support that, with attendance up about 10 percent on recent years at 36,921. If you were there for 2015 and 17, the change in vibe was palpable, and as always New Zealand must have been at a standstill because everyone appeared to have made the pilgrimage. This year the show extended its tentacles well outside the doors with OEM displays at the Queen Street Mall and Reddacliff Place, as well as the hugely popular South Bank Roadhouse. The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) held its conference on site, and Mt Cotton was opened up for use by exhibitors and stakeholders. Of course, most of the OEMs used the event to host all manner of functions and bashes

Also lurking in the background in Rocklea was the Australian Heritage Truck Association show, and there were many taking the bait and making a ‘now and then’ week and weekend of it. There’s certainly a progressive change in flavour, with alternative energy on many OEM stands, although probably not with the same vigour as say an IAA show for obvious reasons. Speaking to media from the SEA Electric stand, group managing director Tony Fairweather said the enquiries they field now at shows have completely changed, with potential users of electric technology fully accepting of its longterm place and wanting to know how it works and potential benefits for their operations. Times they are a-changing. Back to fossil fuels, one thing is for certain, by the time the power towers in this part of the world decide Euro 6 is the go, it’ll likely be well ensconced in the product of every OEM worth noting. There’s no question that 6 is being driven by both supply and demand, with those residing on both sides of the economic fundamentals agreeing there’s not only value in a clear respiratory track, but also marketing power if one has a pristine conscience in the confessional.

In some ways it was the ‘yesterday’ show for us; we’ve launched the Hino 500 series standard cab and the HDT Fuso, and course Isuzu in Australia is a different beast, shying away from the big time. Equally valid was the feeling it was the ‘next year’ show with substantial amounts of the product on display a tease as to what’s just around the corner. But there was also plenty in the brand new ‘here and now’ set also. So, read on as we fill you in on the key bits and bobs from Brisbane 2019.

It was new toys everywhere for the world’s automotive powerhouse. The Fuso HD followed the earth’s natural progression of passing time, launching in Australia, at the show, a month or so after us. The new Actros with mirrorless tech and a Buck Rogers’ dash among other things was unveiled, due for market release just down the track, and the SoloStar Actros concept truck was there also. And of course, Cascadia, the truck that’s largely responsible for Freightliner’s 40% market share in the US, due next year and likely to set new standards in safety for a US bonneted buggy, currently sold with Level 2 autonomy in the land of the free… not quite hands-free …yet. Daimler Australia CEO Daniel Whitehead laid down the gauntlet to WACOL with the comment: “Our intention is to be market leader here in a relatively short period of time.”

And he’s got good reason to be so forthright. Daimler now have – well, will shortly have – the arsenal of product to launch a valid and relentless attack on the Australian market across all segments, and like the arch rival, immersing themselves in the development of HR pathways into the industry through various programmes. And of course ‘Thor’ was there… eCanter (New Zealand Trucking July 18 ‘No looking back’), sitting quietly in the corner. When it’ll grace the streets of the antipodes we’re still unsure, but the fact it was there is another clear signal of Mr Whitehead’s intentions. Harking back to the energy and vibe at the show, there’s no question a good deal of it was emanating from the Daimler ranks.

Obviously, the stars of the stand were the looming Cascadias due for release in 2020. Front and centre was a big 126 with 448kW (600hp) Detroit Diesel DD16 power, Detroit 12-speed transmission and 36” XT sleeper, in right-hand drive trim we might add. The truck’s part of a $100m Australasian right-hand drive development programme, and is currently on 68.5 tonne B-double tanker work in SW Queensland and NW New South Wales in a 350,000km per annum operation. Hanging off the snout of the big Freighty was the ubiquitous piece of Aussie outback furniture, which tends to enhance an aerodynamically slanted truck’s efficiency and aesthetics in the same way concrete pointe shoes enhance a ballerina.

Luckily there was a day runner 126 next to it that allowed appreciation of the lines. Making up the Cascadia trio was the 116, the truck most of us instantly think of when the name Cascadia is tabled, due to its antlike presence on the US landscape. “We are absolutely committed to ensuring the Cascadia arrives in showrooms next year ready for Australia’s unforgiving conditions and wanted to let the public in on this unprecedented test programme,” said Freightliner Australia-Pacific director, Stephen Downes. The minute the curtain fell on the show the three trucks in speckled black, white and blue test livery were back out into the rigours of pre-release testing.

Shogun. Seen it, drove it, loved it (New Zealand Trucking May 19 ‘Looking after their own’). Of course the Aussies had an 8x4 large as life on their stand (do they know what to do with one?) probably just to rub it in that we, the world’s 8x4 kings, didn’t have one to blat around in on our launch day. ‘What eva!’ Fuso Truck and Bus director Justin Whitford gripped the lectern during his address and the look in his eye was akin to the Ultimate Warrior. It was like he was about to raise it above his head and use it to beat his opponents with. At last he has a platform-based pal with all the fruit with which to charge headlong into the fight for market share.

After waiting a small dog’s lifetime for the new Actros to get here, now we’re getting the new, new Actros, …the mirrorless jobbie! Once the Scandinavians were the kings of safety and tech and the world watched to see what was next, but Daimler’s been at least abreast for some time, and in the latest incarnation of their rock-star flagship you could argue they’ve inched in front. Mercedes-Benz Truck and Bus Australia Pacific director Michael May revealed the new gig due for launch next year to the waiting crowd. Another huge validation programme is underway on the truck festooned with driver-focused aids. The two most obvious ones are MirrorCam, and the two-piece tabletbased, driver-configurable dash. The rear-facing cameras that provide the rearward vista are mounted above the doors, and present 80% less surface area than mirrors do. The 15” screens are mounted on the A pillars and are split, with one section showing what’s out back and the other what the trailer’s doing.

Photo: The new Actros due next year, no mirrors.

There’s no doubt the camera brackets are super robust, but there appears to be no fallback e.g. a plastic cap in the door that reveals a slot you poke the spare mirror in – supplied with the truck – so you can motor on safely. Maybe we’re just too old-school. The other feature of note is the GPSassisted Predictive Powertrain Control that reads the road two kilometres in front, setting the truck up for optimal performance. SoloStar is a concept truck for those who’ve given up completely on ever teaching the kids from inside the cab again. May said it has been developed in response to customer feedback.

The most striking feature is a lounge chair set back almost against the back wall that replaces the passenger seat. It then folds down, allowing the 850mm inner-sprung mattress to be deployed. The idea is to transform the truck into a living space once the day’s driving is over or the wait mortifyingly long. There are TV, fridge/freezer, microwave options, and full connectivity.

Photo: Tablet-based dash and MirrorCam. The next Actros takes things to a new level.

Two ProStar tractors were on the stand, one set up for 34 pallet 26m B-double operations, a standard in Australia. The truck had a 40” mid-roof integrated sleeper, Transtar badging on the sills and X15 Cummins with Eaton UltraShift PLUS front end mechanicals. The other unit was a day cab fitted with full aerodynamic fairings, pitched at trailer exchange work and was fitted with 1100-litre long-range tanks. Again, Cummins X15, but this time a manual gearbox. The truck was equipped with ESP and Bendix Wingman Fusion safety systems.

IVECO had a packed house. Due for launch later in the year the 4x4 Daily was previewed on the stand. Sporting the 134kW (180hp)/430Nm (317lb/ft), 3.0-litre Euro 6 SCR power unit, the go-anywhere Daily now comes with the Hi-Matic 8-speed transmission and a max GVM of 7.0 tonne. That’s how you make something really good, really great! Off to the side was the outstanding 70C, 20m3 7.0 tonne GVM Daily van equipped with the same powerplant and transmission.

There’s also a 6-speed synchromesh double overdrive manual. We’re big Daily fans. Eurocargo was on the stand fitted with an INNOV8 traffic management kit, and the latest incarnation of the locally made ACCO in Euro 6 trim was there also. Following its launch last year, the Stralis X-Way is on its way ex the Melbourne assembly plant out to dealerships. Powerplant for the range is the Euro 6 Cursor in 9, 11, and 13-litre displacement, with outputs across the range starting at 231kW (310hp)/1300Nm (959lb/ft), and running through to 381kW (510hp)/2300Nm (1696lb/ft).

Photo: Stralis X-Way.

Married to the motor is the new 12-speed HI-TRONIX automated transmission, and as you would expect from a frontline Euro, the full safety suite is present (EBS, brake assist, ESP, hill hold, adaptive cruise, advanced emergency braking, day running lights), with options around hydraulic retarder, lane departure, driver attention, tyre pressure monitoring, and Bi-Xenon headlamps. GVMs come in at 25 tonnes and 30 tonnes for rigids (6x4/8x4) and GCMs, 45 tonnes for tractors, and 40 to 45 tonnes for rigids. Beefier brutes are available on request.

Of course Kenworth largely stole their own thunder in March with the launch in Victoria of the T360 and T410 Kenworth, and a look at the 1.4m sleeper for the T610 (New Zealand Trucking May 19 ‘Clarity of Vision’). However, the stand was jam-packed with bugs of all sizes, including the T610 SAR sporting the new 1400mm house, arguably the runaway star, with great proportions and enhanced by some subtle niceties like fatter chimneys. David Harmsworth, GM of sales for Kenworth, emphasised that “Choice and flexibility were traditional Kenworth values” and how important it was they were retained.

Photo: K200 is Euro 6 ready with Bendix Wingman Fusion and ACE cab entry.

As such you can specify your Kenworth billy-basic through to state of the art. There were two T410s on the stand sporting 860mm and 760mm sleepers, and one T360A in 8x4 cab chassis. “There’s no doubt the 12 and 13-litre segment represents a massive part of the market these days, it’s about a third of the market. It’s important for us to have a targeted, dedicated model,” said Harmsworth. Sitting in the far corner was a K200 with the 2.8m sleeper and Euro 6 X15 Cummins power, Eaton UltraShift PLUS, Bendix Wingman Fusion safety, and ACE (Active Cab Entry). “The message is there: we’re ready. If the operators and the customers want to move to Euro 6, we’re ready, but we’re not forcing it.”

Photo: T610 SAR with the 1400mm sleeper is superbly proportioned.

Bursting through the PACCAR curtains at Brisbane was a Euro 6 FA LF260 4x2 12 tonne truck, and its bigger ‘broer’ the FA LF290 18 tonne truck, again a four-footer, with both trucks sporting sleeper cabs. It’s the advance party for the progressive roll out over the next few years of the Euro 6 DAF range… our next ‘We’re really hanging out for it’ truck. Powering the LFs was PACCAR’s PX-7 6.7-litre 6-cylinder engine. Standard transmission is the ZF AS Tronic 6-speed automated transmission. Options include ZF Ecolite 6-speed manual, and Allison autos. For the 18 tonner there’s the 12-speed ZF AS Tronic and ZF Ecomid 9-speed manual also. Both trucks come with full suite of safety features, making them a highly attractive proposition for the right company. Also on the stand was the current Euro 5 XF105.510 and the 8x4 FAD CF85.510, as well as the ‘oi oi oi’ Aussie-assembled 6x4 FTT CF85.

Photo: The DAF FA LF290

The men from MAN showed off their TGS tipper with the 540hp motor and in the right set-up capable of a 40 tonne payload, according to Penske’s Sergio Carboni. Added to the productivity was the carrot of European safety and driver aids obviously. Two D38s, a 26.540 and a 26.640, were on display, and the pitch was power, comfort, and of course safety, with huge emphasis on the fatiguefighting ambiance of the interior with a claimed 65dB at 80km/h in highway cruise, and a mattress of just under 2.2m length. The big bopper sported the Performance Line pack for those who want that bit extra, with 2.0m standing room, leather, colour-coding, and set up with alloy guards and turntable.

Western Star
What Aussie truck show would be complete without a full-on 6900 Western Star in ‘go out and tear it up’ spec. This year’s magnificent creation was adorned in the colours of Neil Mansell Transport, a FXC packing the X15, Eaton 18-speed 22918 trans, and a 52,000lb rear end with a 140 tonne GCM (we knew you’d like that). Also, on the stand was a 5800FE set up for Aussie B-double work with DD15, Eaton UltraShift PLUS and 46,000lb rear end. The truck was swished up with fairings, and polished tanks with 1400-litre capacity.

Scania Australia MD Mikael Jansson hailed a record year in 2018 and a continuation of the pattern in 2019, rightly lauding the safety, performance, cleanliness, and market response to the new NTG range. He was in full planet preservation mode, pointing out that ‘Australia had some of the oldest and dirtiest trucks’ and that had to change. He said we need to stop pensioning off old trucks into urban jobs, and running Euro 0 in such environments was no longer acceptable; something in fairness we see a lot of here too. “They should be pensioned off for good,” he said. To that end, on the stand was a 6x2 P340 CNG powered NTG Scania running the 9.0-litre Euro 6 and GRS895R transmission pitched at metro and vocational work.

Photo: Classical gas P340!

It’s a great solution, not least for the reason it still actually looks like a truck. With it was another P series, a 280 with the new 6-cylinder 7-litre Euro 6 diesel (or 100% HVO); again, obviously pitched at urban metro vocational and last mile work. The wee engine lets you put another 360kg of trash in the back over the 9.0- litre, and its diminutive size means a low engine tunnel even in the P Series cabin. Supply constraints no longer affect the flagship and in the second half of the year Australia will see the R650 Euro 6 with its colossal 3300Nm (2434lb/ft) of torque, beast retarder, high roof sleeper, and all the safety fruit, including Scania’s trump card curtain airbag. Ready to take on the B-double/B-triple market you have to say it’s a fantastic era we’re heading into with some real face-offs emerging on the go line of antipodean freight haulage. Bring it ON!

Photo: Big gear, the R650 Euro 6 with torque well north of 3000Nm. ‘Clear the way.’

SEA Electric
Providing 100% electrical power systems to the commercial vehicle sector, SEA target last mile and metropolitan vocational applications up to 23.5 tonne GVM. They work on standard charging infrastructure on a three-phase 32amp power point. Group managing director Tony Fairweather said there’s a huge swing in the direction of the sector as the economics now make sense, with duty cycles that work and negligible impact on payloads. “There are no incentives in Australia currently, and we are still able to achieve a payback for our customers of less than four years.” He pointed out the battery technology is advancing at an incredible rate, with weight and cost reducing and output increasing. “We foresee that in 18 months to two years an electric truck will be the same cost as a traditional diesel if not cheaper, and will definitely be lighter.”

Volvo Group Australia
It was VGA president and CEO Martin Merrick’s first Brisbane show since taking the reins from Peter Voorhoeve in 2018. The buoyant Scotsman started life as mechanic and has worked his way through the ranks, a passionate believer in the product, and uptime. That’s great news, because he certainly needs to be. The group still holds the number one possie in the Aussie landscape, but his predecessor Peter Voorhoeve had the luxury of Daimler and Scania with toolkits that weren’t quite there, or an internal structure that needed a tidy up. That’s all gone, well and truly. And it doesn’t end there either, as internally there’s been a lot of change right through the top seats at VGA, with only the irrepressible Dean Bestwick still there from the crew of 2015.

So, while the war chest still looks…we’ll say ‘fine’ (they really need that 600hp short BBC tractor and Fuso’s 13-litre due next year could still prove a thumb tack in their foot), there’s no doubt Merrick needs to create a settled, stable atmosphere at WACOL and ensure not a drop of complacency exists. There’s no questioning the point that they rightly place a huge emphasis on being a local manufacturer in the community, but there might just be a blue-faced, kilted Mel Gibson movie Merrick could run on rotation in the swanky HQ’s atrium, just so eyes remain fixed on the prize.

In the brand’s hundredth year it should have been the Anthem’s show to steal, but its first real moment in the artificial sun was taken by that which sat just behind it – but back to that in a minute. Yes, the Anthem is coming in – you guessed it – 2020. There was a cutaway truck on display so people could step in and have a good look. Its angular chiselled look is unique, slippery from all accounts, sort of a ‘Terminator’ version of the CH looks-wise. It’s like they wanted to go back to the CH, possibly the prettiest Bulldog ever, but needed to do something so bought it a gym membership, and bottle of ‘juice’. It’s not a bad looking truck, all in all. Currently there are test units running in North Queensland and North America on the Australianising of the Anthem.

Photo: Mack Anthem due in town next year.

VGA VP sales for Mack trucks Dean Bestwick confirmed that arrival in New Zealand will include an 8x4 (they got the message – ‘you know we’ll do it if you don’t’). One of the key areas Mack is focusing on in the Anthem is work environment, with highly touted ergonomics, and in the big sleeper, full stand-up headspace from the driver’s seat. As we said, behind the Anthem was the concept short BBC Super-Liner. Currently the dog’s being done so to speak in the Australian market by not having a 600hp-plus offering in the 26m 34-pallet linehaul mayhem. That’s about to change.

The final incarnation won’t look a lot like the truck at the show; the cab will certainly sit lower for a start. Sources we spoke to from within the kennel confirmed there won’t be a normal and short BBC Super-Liner; there’ll just be a Super-Liner, if you get our drift. Other news in the puppy province is the switch to Tier 2 Bridge-Plus electrical architecture across the lineup that will allow the 13 and 14-speed mDRIVE, Bendix Wingman Fusion safety, and connection to all manner of in-house telematics and analytical tools. The dog is wired; it won’t be long before a K9 from Dr Who is on the bonnet.

Photo: Mack Super-Liner short BBC concept. What you see is not what you’ll get,
but the finished product will be it, meaning there’ll only be one Super-Liner profile.

The next chapter in the QUON story presented itself on the UD stand in the form of an 8.0-litre variant. The engine produces figures of 263kW (360hp) at 2200rpm and 1428Nm (1053lb/ft) from 1200 to 1600rpm, with the truck 300kg lighter than its 11-litre stablemate. The 6x4 CD 25.360 carried all the enhanced safety features of the bigger machine and includes a passenger door window for seeing and believing. “The 8-litre version is an exciting addition to the Quon range that offers the same levels of drivability and safety as the 11-litre version,” said UD Trucks vice president sales Mark Strambi. Sitting quietly behind was the midweight Croner due for launch later in the year; a model found in markets like South Africa, Peru, India, Thailand, and parts of the Middle East, that’s being tweaked for Australian duties. Running the 8.0-litre motor, the Croner was present in 4x2 tipper configuration – PK 18.280, and there’s a 6x2 also with model nomenclature PD 25.280. “The Croner reinforces UD’s commitment to the middle-weight market,” said Strambi. With its heritage, looking on from outside you get the feeling it’s going to be muscling in on Enduro’s turf.

Pride of place in the land of the Vikings was the new FH Globetrotter XXL. Cab depth has definitely been one of the nit-picks of the big FH and now that appears to have been addressed. The back wall of the sleeper has moved rearward by 250mm and a new C pillar installed, adding more than 600 litres to the interior space, making it 40% bigger than the XL and 13% bigger than the previous XXL. The cab measures 2475mm front to back externally. “Australia is one of a very few selected markets that will see the allnew XXL cab and it has been designed with Australia’s vast distances in mind,” said Volvo Trucks Australia vice president Tony O’Connell.

Alongside the big house was the FH 25th anniversary model, bristling with everything Volvo can pack into a truck, including the full active safety pack, dual clutch, iSee functionality that predicts the topography ahead and effects the optimal assault, and Volvo Dynamic steering with lane keeping assist and individual adjustment of steering wheel resistance. Also launched on show week was the FE LEC (Low Entry Cab) for urban applications i.e. refuse and in-out distribution. It’s going to take a lot of bling if you want to make it beautiful. Entry and visibility is as you’d expect for a truck of this genre, and the cab kneeling function lowers the shed by a further 90mm. Being a Volvo you’re perfectly safe and it meets the toughest crash tests …Swedish BOF10 for the prop-heads among you. Under the … behind the…somewhere, is an 8-litre Euro 6 (350hp) engine with I-Shift, or a full 6-speed auto with torque converter.

Photos: Volvo FH XXL with the big sleeper. Now that’s a bed! They’re still missing that 50hp though.

Cummins is bringing its Euro 6 heavyduty truck engine offerings to market in 2020, and as we know, EGR in big red’s world still stands for Everyone Goes Running and is nowhere to be seen. The line-up will comprise the L9, X12 and X15 (the latter in both Performance and Efficiency series), all sporting XPI (Extreme Pressure Injection) common rail and a standard wastegate turbo. The Performance engine’s output stats comprise 392 to 466kW (525 to 625hp)/2508 to 2779Nm (1850 to 2050lb/ft), and the Efficiency’s 343 to 410kW (460 to 550hp)/2237 to 2779Nm (1650 to 2050lb/ft). The cool thing you’ll note is Efficiency’s peak torque is in the big boys’ club, so that’s going to make it a neat engine with potentially interesting results in the right hands. Cummins say the rating will be used in combination with the Eaton UltraShift PLUS. Exhaust aftertreatment for the X15 Euro 6 is the snazzy Single Module, combining the DPF and SCR system in a single smaller, lighter cylinder.

Photo: The X15 Performance with single module aftertreatment in the background.

Cummins’ offering in the middisplacement oil burners is the X12, with peak output of 373kW (500hp) and 2305Nm (1700lb/ft), and the best power-to-weight of the 10-to-16-litre set by all accounts. The X12’s cogswapping running mate is the new Endurant. The ISLe5 is ‘exiting stage left’, and taking a bow is the L9 in ratings up to 298kW (400hp)/ 1801Nm (1328lb/ ft). Not being EGR has big cooling implications and means it’s a honey for trucks that are “Dimensionally constrained and tare weight critical”, as Mike Fowler, Cummins South Pacific director of engine business, put it.

The DD16 has at last officially made it to the main stage. Last Brissy show we knew it was out in the red nowhere being hammered to within an inch of its life, and this year, there it was one stand forward of its DD15 running mate, waiting for its big date with destiny in the Freightliner Cascadia 126. A 15.6- litre with outputs from 373kW (500hp) to 448kW (600hp)/2508 Nm (1850lb/ ft) to 2779Nm (2050lb/ft), the big horse from the north boasts second-generation Amplified Common Rail Fuel System (ACRS), and turbo compounding. The engine is clean too, Euro 6 clean, although its official badge of honour is the US GHG17.

Pride of place on the Eaton stand was the new Endurant 12-speed automated transmission, the first automated transmission from the Eaton Cummins JV. Our first encounter with it was with PACCAR badging and tuning in the Kenworth T410. It’s a hugely influential transmission, being a greenfield automated shifter, and its architecture will likely spread throughout the Eaton product line, growing from its current 50 tonne GCM ceiling and eventually catering to all requirements. Innovations include transmission fluid pressure sensor, clutch life replacement warning, low speed manoeuvrability, all-aluminium casing, and integrated communications between the engine and transmission.

The Jost stand was a hive of activity throughout the show and evidence that the increasing importance on safety and employee welfare is spreading outside the core vehicle. Jost New Zealand general manager Kate Bucknell said the uptake of equipment like pneumatic couplers is on the rise as they contribute to safer solutions. Keen interest was also being shown in Jost’s forged alloy wheels, available in both a machined and polished finish.

Photos: Safety, efficiency, and style were the theme of most enquiries on JOST’s stand.

Our two icons MTE and TRT were present as always. Both have worked hard to earn their rightful place in the Australian scene, not something easily done by any stretch. MTE is a household name in the world of heavy haul transporters in Australia and they were proudly displaying their wares in Brisbane. Likewise, TRT, famous for giving all manner of industry a real lift with their mobile cranes, had the new TIDD PC28 with a 28 tonne pick and carry capability on the back of one of their heavy haul trailers, that was in turn showcasing the steering technology they’ve been building into their highend offerings.