MAN on a Mission

In his role as Product Manager with Penske Australia, Sergio Carboni is an integral part of the team developing and rolling out the MAN truck product portfolio in the Australian market.

Over 167,000 hours of design work alone have gone into the new MAN TG3 series truck. Sergio Carboni, who has been with Penske Australia for nearly six years, is in the driver’s seat, so to speak, to talk about the new range and what it will mean for the German brand locally.

Prime Mover: Are you excited about the MAN Truck Generation 3?

Sergio Carboni: I am honestly excited in anticipation of taking this brand to market in Australia. I think the product has always been very good, maybe even understated, and now we are in a great space with the launch of the new MAN truck generation to the Australian market. The level of engagement with the factory is unprecedented. We’ve identified opportunities here in Australia, and with the strong commitment from Penske Australia, we will take this brand to the next level.

PM: The MAN brand has a strong support package to offer. Is that part of the strategy or is it something that has evolved?

SC: The way we are going to market is with the overall package, both from a retail perspective and also from a fleet perspective. We identified a few years ago some of the gaps in the support side of our offering. For instance, the requirement for items such as 24-hour roadside assistance. We worked with NTI Truck Assist and looked at how to take the risk away from our customers and how best to support that. We also examined our warranty requirements based on variations in applications as to whether we should be covering kilometres or hours. We’ve now got that flexibility depending upon the application. In mining, hours are important for customers, in on-highway kilometres and years are important. Hence the on-highway five year one million kilometres driveline warranty on our 13-litre and 15-litre TGX models is up there with the very best. We have great repair and maintenance packages as well. We haven’t compromised on the integrity or the safety of the truck, but we’ve looked at how we can create an overall package which is exceptionally good. Anybody can buy market share if they want to, but if you haven’t got the support mechanisms then it’s only a short-term solution.

PM: Are the specifications with this new range right for Australia?

SC: I think the beauty about the MAN range is we’ve got medium duty, heavy duty and we’ve also got the market leading off-highway/all-wheel drive product. When you look at that spread I don’t think there are many OEMs with that range of product. So for us it’s about identifying our strengths and playing on them, such as with our all-wheel drive models. We’re also looking at our on-highway 13-litre and 15-litre trucks and growing that side of the business as well. We have looked at specific applications such as ‘wharf spec’ trucks for container work. We work with our dealers and our sales specialists to create a product with which we can go head-to-head with some of the major players in ‘wharf spec’ with key specifications such as a 360/440hp spread, the right size fuel tanks and a package of safety features and creature comforts. We looked at some of our construction market areas as well, such as tipper and dog applications, concrete pumps, cranes, and how we take advantage of the MAN’s low tare weight and translate it into that application.

PM: What’s next for MAN in Australia?

SC: Next is the all-wheel drive range including 4×4, 6×6, 8×8, and 8×4. We are looking at local availability in the third quarter next year to continue our market leading position in that category.

PM: Is the Australian market large enough to support such a wide range of off highway/all-wheel drives?

SC: It absolutely is. We would typically do between 130-150 units per year. We ‘own’ the Pilbara due to most of the large miners, drill rigs, and exploration operators using MAN trucks. Our 4×4 models are also strong with the essential services who are managing the electrical wiring, such as Downer and SA Power. Essential services businesses love the MAN product because it’s engineered as an all-wheel drive product and not something on-highway that’s been cut and shut. The MAN all-wheel drive product is a stand-alone engineering solution and therefore it’s made for it, whether it’s the electronic architecture, or the PTOs or some of the specific requirements that are needed for an application. From a tare weight point of view, it’s very light as well so they can fit a lot of equipment on it. From an engineering aspect the MAN is highly regarded in this space.

PM: Are you comfortable with what you’ve got as Medium Duty and Heavy Duty offerings for on-highway applications?

SC: We are constantly looking at where we can supplement some of our core business with some of these niche markets which we can also work in. We also feel there is so much opportunity in our 6×4 trucks that we haven’t tapped into yet and we are really keen to make that change to the dial. We’ve got an ability to order a variety of wheelbases directly from the factory. For example, we are a major player in the agricultural spreader market so we’ve got a 3.9 metre or a 4.5 metre wheelbase available, in both manual and automated transmission.

PM: Is supply a challenge?

SC: It’s been really difficult across the whole industry and other industries as well. Fortunately, they’re back on full speed ahead now and we’ve got trucks built in Germany ready to go on boats. Some are already on their way, and we should see a good quantity arrive during the last quarter of 2022 and we’ve secured our build slots for 2023 and potentially for the first quarter of 2024 as well. A lot of it is already sold, and a lot of it is dealer stock so we’ve got a good combination of both. It’s good that Australia is one of the focus countries for MAN and therefore we get some sort of priority. It’s reassuring to hear that from MAN. So we are going to be hitting the ground running in the fourth quarter of this year. The investment continues into our own dealers, and our private dealers are also investing heavily in items such as training.

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