After a few false starts, it is valid to ask the question, are Chinese trucks coming to Australia? The answer is, of course, yes, but not quite yet. The trucks being made in China are getting closer and closer to the technology levels and specifications we need in Australia every year. It’s simply a matter of time.
The second question is, why do Chinese trucks want to come to Australia? We aren’t the biggest truck market in the world and surely the Chinese would be targeting areas of the world where larger numbers of truck are sold? Australia is not the biggest, but it is certainly the most iconic truck market, globally.
Every Managing Director or CEO of a truck manufacturer wants to have one particular picture hanging on their boardroom wall to impress guests. That picture is of their prime mover pulling a road train across the red dirt landscape of Australia. It gives the brand credibility in every market. It shows the truck is tough enough and strong enough to handle the toughest trucking tasks in the world.
Is the Chinese product up to the task? Probably not at the moment, but it is closing in on the West pretty quickly. There is no doubt the Chinese truck is robust enough in its design and the impressive array of component suppliers lining up to supply the right parts are listed on this video.
The problem for the Chinese truck makers, up to now, has been in execution. The trucks have been designed right and have met the specification, but when the trucks have actually been made in a production environment, the finishing has been very ordinary and the Chinese truck makers have not followed through on quality assurances.
This has been the experience in the past, but it is not likely to be the experience in the future, they are learning fast. This year we have seen the European tuck industry brought up with a bit of a start when the International Truck of the Year was awarded to the Ford Otosan truck developed and produced in Turkey. The truck has been designed and built to match the most sophisticated truck makers in the world, the Chinese will be sure to follow.
There is another part of the Chinese performance which, if improved, would add to the credibility of the Chinese truck manufacturers, and that is in presentation. We are used to high quality video presentation in English, but this video doesn’t come across as particularly articulate. The script could do with some polishing up, if they want to impress English-speaking buyers.
The trucks in China appear two come in two styles, the ‘flat face’and the ‘long nose’ apparently, according to the video. We can assume they mean cabover and conventional. So, there is one last question to which we need an answer. Will the first Chinese truck to make it successfully onto the Australian market be a flat face or a long nose?