Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

In the news this week have been a Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks and the need for supporting infrastructure.


Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks
2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge – on-road winner, Kerri Connors, of Caltas, Tasmania.


Tasmanian Kerri Connors, of Caltas, was named winner of the 2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge on-road category in a competition which put Australia’s most fuel-efficient drivers head to head. The off-road title was claimed by Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel in Victoria. Over a two-day event at Mt Cotton in Queensland, the competition was whittled down from 17 drivers in the semi-final, to nine in the final.

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks
2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge – off-road winner, Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel, Victoria.


“Highlighting the huge impact every driver has on a company’s fuel consumption, out of the nine drivers in the final, Kerri completed the challenging on-road course using 7.8 per cent less fuel than least-efficient driver in this year’s final, and keeping in mind these are the best of the best,” said Mitch Peden, Volvo Vice President. “In a real-world scenario, that equates to massive savings for operators.”


This year Volvo identified the competitors using data from Dynafleet, instead of running a series of heats around the country, comparing the telematics scores to identify the nation’s best-performing drivers.


“All competitors had consistently demonstrated fuel-efficiency while driving fully-laden trucks on genuine commercial journeys,” said Mitch, “consistency like that over months is a lot harder to achieve than getting lucky on a single day.”


Building more trucks in Australia

Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

Iveco is to start building an additional Stralis model in its Dandenong facility in Melbourne. The truck is currently sold in Australia as a fully imported model, but from the fourth quarter of 2017 the Stralis ATi will be assembled at Dandenong, as the Stralis AT. Selected components including mirrors, wheel angles, trailer connections, batteries, wheels and liquids will be sourced locally.


The Stralis AT variants will include a 6×4 prime mover and 6×2 rigid in a variety of specification options, and will join existing Stralis AS-L, Powerstar, Acco and Delta and Metro bus chassis models, which are locally built and/or manufactured in Melbourne.


The new truck will see the Dandenong facility undergo investment in tooling and software to calibrate the AT’s adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, and in doing so introduces new technology to the site.


New Penske Dealer


Penske Commercial Vehicles has announced the appointment of Penske Power Systems as Brisbane dealer. Located in Wacol, Penske Power Systems will provide the services previously provided by Penske Commercial Vehicles’ Brisbane Truck Centre, as the exclusive retail sales, service and parts dealer in Brisbane, responsible for Western Star Trucks, MAN and Dennis Eagle.


“We have seen the successful transition of dealerships to Penske Power Systems across several locations over the last eight months,” said Kevin Dennis, Managing Director of Penske Commercial Vehicles. “The sixth location to be appointed as a sales dealership, Penske Power Systems in Wacol has a reputation for providing excellent service to its customer base.


“This transition will allow us to leverage the broad Penske Power Systems network and streamline operations, providing customers with the same outstanding service delivered by Penske Power Systems in Mackay, Townsville, Darwin, Cairns, Perth and Sydney.”


Autonomous Trucks need infrastructure


Kings Transport and Logistics CEO, Tony Mellick, expects that autonomous trucks will become the norm rather than the exception, particularly for single pickup and delivery runs.


“I think the application in long-distance movement of freight by autonomous trucks is sound,” said Mellick. “Having the ability to send out 200 tonnes of freight rather than 20-34 tonnes by platooning three or more trucks, is a cost-effective way of moving freight. It’s safer because it removes fatigue from the risk matrix and, given the constraints of the current labour market, would be a welcome solution for most long-distance service providers.”


Mellick says that while new vehicle technologies are certainly heading in the direction of connected autonomy, it is less clear how soon Australia will have the infrastructure to support driverless trucks on our highways.


“All this is reliant on investment by governments to build the infrastructure into the highways and roads to facilitate it,” said Mellick. “My understanding is that for autonomous trucks to be viable, there need to be sensors, monitors and technology embedded along the road to keep the truck from straying out of the lanes, for instance. Apart from Eastlink in Melbourne, I’m not aware of any infrastructure enabling the commercialisation of autonomous trucks in Australia.”



The Streets of London

The Streets of London

On the streets of London, the CLOCS (Construction Logistics and Community Safety) ticking for truck owners in the UK capital. There’s been a growing debate in the UK on how to avoid collisions between commercial vehicles and cyclists. Truck makers are showcasing the designs they have come up with to avoid cyclist fatalities.


The Streets of London

In 2011, an analysis of nine cycling fatalities involving trucks in London discovered that seven of them involved construction vehicles, triggering concerns that while the construction industry accounted for only a small-proportion of freight traffic running in and out of the nation’s capital, their trucks were ‘over represented’ in cyclist fatalities.

At a CLOCS showcase, building and industrial materials supplier SIG unveiled its first ‘enhanced urban safety’ curtain-sider, based on a 6×2 Econic. The 26-tonne GVW rear-steer rigid has the 300hp-rated OM 936LA and six-speed Allison. SIG CEO Stuart Mitchell says, “We’re very proud to introduce this new vehicle into our fleet. As a responsible leading market supplier of materials to the construction industry, our commitment to health and safety is always our top priority.”


The Streets of London

London waste management company O’Donovan Waste Disposal displayed no less than three new cycle-safe trucks. Its MAN TGM BB 18-tonne skip-loader has revised suspension to lower the cab (and driving position) plus clear warnings to cyclists on the side-guards and an additional wide-angle fresnal-lens attached to the nearside door window. It also has left-turn audible warning, 360° camera system and side-scanner.

Dennis Eagle Elite’s low-entry chassis cab with large glass area is a home-built rival to the continentals. It’s powered by Volvo’s Euro-VI D8 diesel up to 320hp, coupled to an Allison 3000P six-speeder. The 4×2 18-tonne show Elite 6 featured a 360° camera system, left-turn audible warning and side-proximity scanners. Dennis also offers a high-visibility top-mounted ‘Cyclear’ LED sign for the bodywork which warns following cyclists the truck is turning left.

Plenty of construction semis can be found working in London every day. Hanson’s high-tech 44-tonne bulk-powder tanker, comprising a 420hp 6×2 Mercedes Actros and Feldbinder tank-trailer has been given the full CLOCS treatment and sports four blind-spot cameras, extra vulnerable road user (VRU) signage, additional LED direction indicators and a high-visibility warning sign on the nearside rear of the trailer which alerts cyclists when the artic is turning.


The Streets of London

Using optional drop-beam front-axles and a slightly-modified suspension, DAF’s ‘N3’ (road-going) CF 440 has a lower driver-height by 147mm, compared to the higher-riding ‘N3G’ (off-road defined) Construction CF with its straight-beam front axles which is usually the first-choice for the Dutch truck maker’s 8×4 customers. A smaller additional-window in the N3’s passenger door still allows drivers to lower the main window. Both CFs also have side-view video monitors mounted on the inside passenger A-pillar.

Volvo was another manufacturer to show a lower-height (by 80mm) N3 tarmac eight-wheeler at CLOCS. The B-ride FM 450 also boasted mirrors with smaller housings and an additional large, lower window on the nearside passenger-door to help its driver spot cyclists close to the cab. Its large size means the main door glass is fixed. It can be ordered on new FM chassis, or retro-fitted.

Return of the Volvo BigCab, and Eagle Parade and Stacking Signs

Return of the Volvo BigCab, Eagle Parade and Stacking Signs

At an event during the Brisbane Truck Show weekend, Volvo Trucks showcased its concept FH XXL cab to an invited audience.


Return of the Volvo BigCab, and Eagle Parade and Stacking Signs


“We are extremely excited to be introducing the FH XXL cab concept here in Australia,” said Mitch Peden, Vice President of Volvo Truck Australia. “As always, we have been listening closely to our customers and there has been a strong and clear demand for this product.”


The big concept cab is 200mm longer than the current XL Globetrotter cab and, if introduced, would see the return of the bigger bunk in a European prime mover.


“Showcasing the FH XXL cab signals our intention to bring this project to commercial reality,” said Peden. “There have been some obvious challenges to developing a product that is considered niche in the global product portfolio. However the fact that we are able to showcase a concept cab today shows that we are committed to bringing this product to market while also underlining the importance of the Australian market and customers within Volvo Trucks’ global operations.”


Eagle Parade


Return of the Volvo BigCab, and Eagle Parade and Stacking Signs


Blacktown City Council paraded six special-edition Dennis Eagle waste collection trucks at the Blacktown Festival on the weekend, each outfitted with a unique charity-aligned livery designed to raise awareness for the Amy Gillett Foundation, the Black Dog Institute, Keep NSW Beautiful, Cancer Council NSW, Diabetes NSW and ACT and Redkite.


Triple Road Signs


A new Queensland University of Technology study, published in Transportation Research,  looked at the impact of placing up to three signs on a freeway gantry and found driving performance is not affected and drivers are able to respond safely to an emergency situation.


“Therefore, there is a need for well-designed road signs to assist drivers,” said, Co-author Dr Gregoire Larue from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safely – Queensland (CARRS-Q). “The practical (due to limited space) and cost-effective solution is often to co-locate signs along highways.”


As part of the study, 35 drivers were exposed to multiple signs with varying messages, while driving in the CARRS-Q driving simulator. Participants completed three simulated drives and were shown similar information during each drive, including a directional sign, a variable messaging sign and a variable speed limit sign.


“In each scenario the three signs were positioned at one, two or three locations along a freeway with a speed limit of 100km/h. What we found was that overall there was no impact of co-locating signs on general driving performance and drivers were able to correctly choose their destination whether there were single or multiple signs displayed at the one location.”

New Boss at Penske

Penske Commercial Vehicles, distributor of the Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle commercial vehicles in Australia and New Zealand, have announced the appointment of a new Managing Director. Kevin Dennis, after two years with Penske Power Systems in Australia as its Director for On Highway business, has been moved to the position of Managing Director of PCV.


Kevin Dennis, new Managing Director at Penske Commercial Vehicles
Kevin Dennis, new Managing Director at Penske Commercial Vehicles


“Kevin brings a passion for developing new business sales opportunities and an unwavering commitment to customer engagement and service delivery” said Randall Seymore, President Penske Transportation Group International. “His background and wealth of experience is a perfect fit to continue the development and implementation of our strategy, including our customer first philosophy.”


Dennis comes to Penske Commercial Vehicles with extensive experience in both the transportation industry and the Penske group of businesses, having spent 13 years with Detroit Diesel Corporation and Daimler Trucks North America in various senior international sales and service management roles and nearly two years with Penske Power Systems in Australia. Kevin also held a previous role as the Managing Director for Navistar Australia.



“I am excited by the opportunity to get out there and tell the market about the great line up of trucks we represent in Western Star Trucks, MAN Truck & Bus and Dennis Eagle; and the effort the company has put into building true working partnerships with our customer base.” said Dennis.


Dennis will officially start on Monday June 20.

Big week for Penske

It’s been just over nine months since Penske Commercial Vehicles took over the business of importing Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle trucks and buses into Australia. At the time, it was clear, Roger Penske was not going to stop there. If the one of the world’s largest automotive dealership groups, Penske Automotive Group, was going to engage with the Australian market it was bound to be on a much larger scale.


We have already seen the introduction of the Penske Truck Rental operation, but now negotiations to expand the operation are beginning to come to fruition. Some events this week were predicted by many after news of the arrival of Penske in Australia.


This week has seen the announcement of the acquisition of MTU Detroit Diesel Australia by the Penske Group. It was purchased from the company’s distribution partners, Daimler and MTU Friedrichshafen. The operation runs a network of branches throughout Australia, New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.





“MTU Detroit Diesel Australia represents some of the most innovative and well-respected brands in the industry, including MTU, Detroit Diesel, Mercedes-Benz Industrial, Allison Transmission and MTU Onsite Energy,” said Roger S Penske, Chairman of the Penske Automotive Group, when announcing to acquisition.



“As we considered opportunities to grow and enhance our business in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, coupling engine and power systems with our existing Western Star, MAN Truck and Bus and Dennis Eagle truck distribution business provided an opportunity to scale our existing operations in an efficient manner.”


Another of Penske’s passions is the car racing business, he has long been a major player in the motor racing world in North America. Starting off as a driver in 1958, Penske Racing has been involved in both Indy Car and NASCAR competitions, winning many championships on the way.


Penske’s arrival in Australia meant involvement in V8 Supercars would be bound to follow. The second news event of the week has seen Team Penske announce its partnership with an icon of the Australian motor racing scene, Dick Johnson Racing.


The team will compete in the 2015 V8 Supercars Championship with Marcos Ambrose returning, after nine years competing in NASCAR, to the sport as a driver for the renamed team. DJR Team Penske will compete with Ford Falcons and Ambrose, already twice V8 Supercars champion, will be behind the wheel of the No 17 Ford for DJR Team Penske.


This week has also seen John Crennan, who recently resigned from management of the Nissan V8 Supercar team, taken on by Penske as a consultant. Crennan is expected to be involved in strategic planning for the Penske organisation as it engages further with the Australian market. Watch this space.

Penske plans for Australia

In a earnings call for the Penske Automotive Group at the end of the first quarter, the management group of the multinational automotive company took questions from analysts on the results so far and plans for the future.


2014 Team Penske Media Tour Charlotte


In response to a question from Brian Sponheimer from G.Research, Chairman, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Group, Roger Penske made mention of the business’ intentions here in Australia with Penske Commercial Vehicles. Six months ago the Penske organisation took over the distribution business in Australia for Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle.


The early signs indicate a rapid expansion of services from the group here with PCV invigorated by new initiatives and the increased attention from top management in the US, who have visited Australia regularly over the last few months. Penske suggests the company’s experience with Freightliner in the US will give them a head start in developing the PCV business and expanding its reach in the truck market.


“Our Commercial Vehicle platform, which we’ve started in Australia has really opened up an opportunity for us to grow in those markets and our investment we have in a Freightliner dealership here in the U.S. is giving us some good ideas from a standpoint of growth,” said Penske.


Questioned further about the organisation’s capacity to expand without having to stray into high leverage territory was answered by Penske. It also suggests the truck distribution business is not Penske’s only target here.


“Obviously, we want to watch interest rates from the standpoint as we fund some of these acquisitions” said Penske. “But the cash flow has been strong and I think what we want to do is have a balanced balance sheet from a standpoint of automotive, trucks, retail and leasing and I think the distribution business will add another value to us in Australia.”

Penske very interested in Australia

Talking to an audience of analysts and journos at the earnings call for the Penske Automotive Group in the USA, this week, the company’s Chairman of the Board and CEO, Roger Penske talked about the company’s move into Australia after the purchase of the of Transpacific’s Commercial Vehicle Group, which imports and sells the Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle brands in Australia. The organisation is now known as Penske Commercial Vehicles.


“Turning to Penske Commercial Vehicles, the fourth quarter reflected our first full quarter of operations for the commercial vehicle business and we continue to be very pleased with the initial results,” said Penske. “For the fourth quarter, the commercial vehicle business generated approximately $100 million in revenue. The heavy duty truck markets sold 11,000 units in Australia last year and our brands represented 11.7 percent market share.


“We also have a 10.3 percent market share in the Australian bus market. We believe this business is a tremendous opportunity for the company to grow revenue profitability, while further diversifying the overall footprint of our business.


“I think we remain opportunistic in the U.S. we also look at brands and where we have scale, as we’ve been in Australia, we were there last week, there was lots interest coming to us on the automotive side, I think we run the play with commercial vehicles here for a while before we jump into retail auto but there is a lot of opportunity there.”