Looking Ahead: 2013 Brisbane Truck Show

The situation for the truck manufacturers present in Australia is very different from the one they have been facing over the past 12 years. At every truck show since 2001, Australia has been just about to change or has just changed the rules governing exhaust gas emissions. The truck industry has gone from dealing with ADR 80/00 through to ADR 80/03 over a relatively short period of time and most of the energy being used by truck development departments at all the manufacturers has been concentrating on new engines producing lower emissions without compromising power and productivity.

Since the introduction of ADR 80/03 back in 2010/11, however, there have been no imperatives for truck designers to meet in terms of exhaust emissions and engine design. This has given manufacturers some breathing space to look at other aspects of modern truck designs and develop different areas within their ranges. This hiatus in, what has been, an intense rush to low emission diesel engines, has given product planners and engineers time and space to work on a number of products that have been sitting on the back burner for the past decade.

The 2013 Brisbane Truck Show will therefore see a number of new trucks, including new models in some cases, as well as new configurations and upgrades on previous models. As per usual, we can also expect a growing amount of electronic equipment and new control systems appear, ranging all the way from the very smallest to the very largest truck in any range.

Market leader Isuzu, for instance, will be displaying an 8×4 truck for the first time at a truck show. The Australian trucking public will be able to get a feel for how the new twin steer with load sharing suspension will affect he Australian marketplace. The Japanese truck maker will promote the most recent, range-wide upgrade, including the introduction of new gearboxes and an improved entertainment/information system. 

Meanwhile, the second generation of the Fuso Eco-Hybrid will create a certain amount of interest on the Fuso stand at the show. There will be an automated transmission available on the hybrid truck for the first time, as they use the Duonic gearbox which has been available in the Canter range for some time. The Japanese truck maker will also be demonstrating the increasing number of automated and automatic gearboxes available throughout the range. We can also expect to see some mention of the fact there has been an 8 x 4 Japanese truck available for many years, from Fuso.

Visitors to the show will also be the first to see the new heavy models coming on stream from UD. With the introduction of an engine and gearbox based on the Volvo 11 L engine and I shift AMT transmission, UD will be setting a new standard of sophistication from a Japanese manufacturer in the Australian truck market. These new models come at the end of a period of rapid modernisation for the UD range. At truck shows in the recent past the company would have displayed vehicles utilising relatively old cabin designs with rugged unsophisticated drivelines. This year's show will therefore mark a sea change where UD can claim to have trucks throughout their range that can match their rivals in sophistication.

From the North American truck makers, there will be several completely new models on display. In the main, these have been possible to develop and adapt for the Australian market because there have been no major engine changes for several years. These are new models aimed to slot into new niches in the market and give the opportunity for the truck manufacturers to offer a full range to their customers.

From Freightliner there is the Coronado 114 heavy-duty truck, using the existing technology fitted to the rest of the Coronado range but in a shorter BBC. This will enable the Daimler-owned North American truck maker to go head-to-head with their rivals in the B-double market and other dimensionally restricted applications. The 114 was specifically designed to suit the Australian market, conditions and our dimensional rules and, as such, really looks like an Aussie truck. This is sure to get some strong local interest at the Brisbane Truck Show.

New models come very rarely from Western Star, but with the introduction of the new 4700, the Portland, Oregon based truck maker has now come up with a new model which should open up new sectors of the truck market for them. The new truck, powered by the 8.2 L Cummins ISL engine, should have an immediate impact at the lighter end of the heavy duty market and even the heavier end of the medium duty market. This truck was designed originally to suit the vocational market in the US and has been adapted to suit the needs of our vocational truck buyers. Western Star are also bound to attract attention with their custom paintwork, as they have in truck shows past.

New engines will be on display from both Kenworth and Cat, one is an all-new engine and the other a new version of a current engine. Cummins are now offering an SCR alternative to the EGR ISX engine fitted in the heavier end of the Kenworth range. The new ISXe5 engine is to be offered side-by-side with the current model to give truck buyers the choice between running a truck with the need to buy the Adblue additive, but less heat rejection from the engine, and the EGR, non additive alternative.

Cat will be displaying new models fitted with the new 13-litre engine from Caterpillar. This new engine has been developed by Navistar in the US for use in the International range there and then further adapted to Australian tastes for Cat to be fitted in the latest CT 610 trucks. There will also be the first of the CT 630 LS models, which have arrived in the country after being previewed at the Melbourne Truck Show in 2012.

The biggest truck on display at the Iveco stand is sure to be one of the first production models off the Dandenong assembly line – the new look Powerstar with Cummins ISX engine and Roadranger gearbox – specified to take the toughest conditions Australian highways can muster, according to Iveco.

For the European manufacturers there are new emission regulations coming along later this year when Euro 6 is introduced in the European Union. Development dollars have already been diverted to these concerns in the last couple of years, so there will be new models out in Europe soon – but we shouldn't expect to see them at this show or anytime soon.

New electronic safety aids and increasing sophistication are likely to be on show from the likes of Mercedes Benz, Volvo, DAF and Scania. However, major design changes will have to wait until we in Australia get a little closer to the introduction of new emission rules (now estimated to be with us in 2018).

Truck makers always keep their exact plans close to their chest in the run-up to events like Melbourne and Brisbane, and this year is no exception. The one thing you can be sure of? There will be a couple of surprises.

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