Record global Hino sales

Global_lineup_Door_mirrori2012hrBooming international interest has propelled Hino Motors Ltd to record-breaking highs in Japanese first-quarter sales results.

Record sales in Central and South America, Europe and Africa contributed to an all-time high in export sales for Hino, up 3.8 per cent from the same time last year.The sales charge was supported by record first-quarter results in Asia, as well as improved sales results in Oceania and the Middle East.

Hino Australia President and Chief Operating Officer, Steve Lotter, said the recent results indicate the growing popularity of Hino globally.

“It’s pleasing to see the Hino product make real inroads in international markets,” he said.

“These sales results show what Australians have known for years – Hino trucks are high quality, tough enough to tackle any situation and imbued with Hino reliability.

“I think in the Central and South American market, watching the Hino 500 Series Dakar Rally truck conquering the tough route time and again instils confidence in Hino’s engineering prowess.”

As well as producing the 300, 500 and 700 Series trucks, the US-market only 600 Series and a range of bus products, Hino Motors Ltd also manufactures the popular Toyota Prado and FJ Cruiser SUVs, with more than 46,000 of the Toyota-branded vehicles sold over the past three months.

In perhaps the strongest indicator for renewed growth in Japan in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis and a spate of natural disasters, Toyota Motor Group is aiming to produce more than 10.1 million vehicles by the end of their financial year.

Should Toyota, Lexus and Hino workers achieve their target, they can claim the record as the first automaker in history to produce more than 10 million vehicles in a single year.

The Toyota Motor Group produced 5.05 million vehicles globally and sold 4.91 million of them in the six months to June this year, retaining its place as the world’s market-leading automotive manufacturer.

The Coronado 114 … a new dimension – driven by Steve Brooks

New Dimension - Lead 4WEBDeveloped exclusively for the Australian market, the importance of Coronado 114 to Freightliner’s local ambitions can’t be underestimated. But while it looks great on paper, one of the big questions is how it performs in the flesh. After a long wait, STEVE BROOKS finally gets to find out.

From first look at the specs and a ‘touchy feely’ preview of the truck in August last year at Freightliner’s truck plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, Coronado 114 not only had my complete attention, but also a big swag of optimism.

This is, after all, the first Freightliner since the launch here in the late ’80s of the original and remarkably durable FLC 112 model to be purposefully configured for the Australian (and New Zealand) market. Sure, the 114’s fundamental cues obviously come from the Coronado 122 flagship but unlike its longer sibling, the shortened version comes in righthand-drive form only and as senior Freightliner operatives in the US were quick to point out, there are no current plans to offer it anywhere beyond our part of the world.

Emphasising the point further, Freightliner executives both here and in the US denied even the slightest suggestion of the 114 being simply a cut down clone of its bigger brother. Indeed, Freightliner insists there were four distinct design goals for this truck, all determined by the specific needs of the Australian market: a set-forward front axle to facilitate weight distribution compliant with Australia’s unique bridge formulas; a shortened 114 inch (2896 mm) bumper to back-of-cab (BBC) dimension to maximise trailer length; a cab and hood arrangement to accommodate a big bore engine within the shortened BBC; and an overall design package catering for a wide range of configurations and applications.

In short, a model that filled a gaping hole in Freightliner’s local line-up. Or more precisely, a model that filled the void in Daimler’s Australian stable created by the corporate assassination five years ago of the Sterling brand, specifically the 113 inch (2870 mm) BBC of the under-rated HX 9500 model.

Yet achieving these design goals obviously demanded a series of critical engineering tasks. For starters, the front axle was moved to a position just 756 mm (less than 30 inches) behind the front bumper which provides a frontal overhang substantially less than even the Argosy cab-over.

Meantime, shortening the BBC meant raising the aluminium cab about 50 mm (two inches) – a move which also provided significant cab and engine cooling advantages – and pushing it forward by around 200 mm (eight inches), thus allowing a big bore engine under a significantly shorter, steeper, one-piece fibreglass hood.

At this point it’s also worth noting that while both 114 and 122 Coronados carry a standard gross combination mass (GCM) rating of 106 tonnes, the 122 is available in ‘Severe Duty’ form and subsequently specified for GCMs up to 140 tonnes. However, as it stands at the moment, maximum GCM of the 114 will remain at 106 tonnes.

Parental power

It surprised no one, of course, that the first engine chosen for installation in the 114 was the 14.8 litre DD15 from corporate partner Detroit, rated up to 560 hp. What did surprise though was the announcement that the EGR-equipped DD15 would be the only engine available in the new model and unlike its Argosy and Coronado 122 colleagues, there would be no 15 litre Cummins ISX or Signature option in the stumpy conventional.

At the unveiling of 114 in the US last year, Freightliner’s local leaders – namely Daimler Trucks commercial vehicle managing director Kolja Rebstock and national sales boss Gary Wheatley – insisted that strong operator demand would be the only motivation for even considering the introduction of a Cummins option. More recently, both say there has been next to no call for the red engine so the likelihood of a Cummins implant now appears more remote than ever.

Of course, the Cummins absence precludes the availability of a 600 hp rating in the shorter Coronado but that may prove to be temporary with Detroit’s 15.6 litre DD16 SCR engine lurking in the shadows. In fact, we’ve already driven a trial DD16 at 600 hp in a Coronado 122 and with the engine sharing the same external dimensions as the DD15, it’s probably not a major engineering feat to fit the ’16 under the 114 snout. What’s more, engines with SCR emissions systems run cooler than their EGR counterparts, so cooling a 600 hp DD16 in the shorter Coronado for GCMs up to 106 tonnes probably wouldn’t be an issue.

And on the subject of cooling, a completely redesigned cooling package was developed for the 114. As we reported early this year, ‘Whereas the Coronado 122 runs a 1900 square inch radiator to meet the cooling requirements of a truck with up to 600 hp (Cummins) hauling gross weights to 140 tonnes, the 114 is fitted with a new 1700 square inch core which comfortably surpasses the model’s cooling needs and importantly retains Freightliner’s clever engine-mounted assembly for the radiator. Also retained are a nine-blade fan and one-piece shroud, with an air-to-oil transmission cooler forming part of the frontal cooling package.’

Development also included dual steering boxes mounted outboard of the chassis rails, revised mounts for the repositioned cab, and dual exhaust stacks mounted to the cab on slimline versions and on the leading edges of the bunk structure on sleeper models. There’s also an optional under-chassis single exhaust for specific applications but whether underneath or external, Freightliner’s exhaust design delivers a remarkably clear area at the back of the cab.

Importantly, plenty of attention was given to the routing and fixing of all hoses and electrical lines in a concerted effort to enhance reliability.

Additionally, the stylish chrome grilles on each side of the hood provide twin air intakes to the engine while up front the headlight and turn indicator are encased in the same housing rather than separate fittings. It’s understood the same light arrangement is now also being introduced on the 122 model.

At the pointy end, a front under-run bar sits behind a flat 400 mm (16 inch) deep chrome bumper, with Freightliner emphasising that both bar and bumper were developed to allow the front axle to be positioned as far forward as possible.

Likewise, fuel capacity was high on the agenda with a new underslung chassis crossmember purposefully designed to enhance tank combinations. Recent information from Freightliner shows tank arrangements totalling over 1800 litres on a long wheelbase 114 equipped with the premium 58 inch XT sleeper, and more than 1300 litres on a 5.15 wheelbase with the 34 inch mid-roof bunk. While we’re on the subject, 114 wheelbases run from 4.6 to 5.15, 5.3 and 5.6 metres.

Yet the 34 and 58 inch sleepers are the only two lengths offered on the model and it might surprise some that the 48 inch bunk available on the 122 is not carried over to the 114. Explaining the decision, Freightliner contends the 48 inch sleeper simply isn’t needed, with the shorter BBC of the 114 allowing the spacious 58 inch bunk to be used without detriment to trailer length in equivalent applications with the 122. Importantly, there’s said to be only a slight increase in tare weight with the bigger bunk on the 114 compared to a 122 with the 48 inch sleeper.

Meanwhile, on first impressions it can easily appear that 34 pallet B-double roles were Freightliner’s sole reason for development of the 114. But it obviously hadn’t escaped the brand’s attention that trucks such as Kenworth’s reborn SAR have achieved great success in applications requiring a conventional truck with a front axle pushed as far forward as possible. Consequently, while 34 pallet B-doubles are certainly on Freightliner’s hit list with the 114, company sources are keen to emphasise the new model’s suitability for everything from long single trailers out to 14.6 and even 14.9 metres (48 ft and 49 ft respectively), to 19 metre ‘pocket’ B-doubles, and truck and quad-dog applications where a set-forward front axle offers maximised weight distribution. And again on first impressions, it appears Freightliner has done its work well in developing a truck that fills and exceeds the void left by Sterling’s HX 9500.

According to the sales pitch, 114 also comes with significant advantages over cab-overs (including Argosy) specified for similar roles. Not least are better entry/exit to the cab than a ‘typical’ cab-over and perhaps most surprising of all, Freightliner’s contention that 114 is ‘safer in a head-on collision.’ Meanwhile, several sources have confirmed the new conventional also comes with a substantially sharper price over an Argosy equivalent, to the tune of more than $50,000 in one example.

By comparison though, development work on the interior appears to have been minimal. Still, there are at least new seats with integrated seatbelts and better adjustment controls, and in non-sleeper models there’s an optional ‘in cab’ battery storage arrangement under a wide, flat passenger seat which is said to save around 20 kg in tare weight over the standard battery cradle mounted outboard on the passenger side chassis rail. Obviously, the in-cab battery layout also frees chassis space for other items … maybe an AdBlue tank for an SCR engine!

Apart from these features though, along with effective cup holder ‘implants’ and a sporty white face on gauges, the 114’s interior layout remains largely derived from Freightliner’s Century Class.


Given that our first look at Coronado 114 was in August last year and repeated requests for a test drive on home soil were met with endless assurances of “soon”, the wait of almost nine months was a tad frustrating after so much early interest in the model. It’s to be hoped delivery times to customers will be somewhat shorter.

Still, at long last a well presented Coronado 114 with 15,000 km under its belt recently stood ready and waiting at Daimler Trucks’ Huntingwood dealership in Sydney’s western outskirts. Hooked to a Vawdrey curtain-sided B-double set, the complete outfit stretched just inside the 26 metre length limit and after contending with Sydney’s suburban chaos, the combination was run a few hundred kilometres down the Hume, then turned around and headed back to Huntingwood.

But even before turning the key, there are a couple of things about the truck that are undeniably confounding. For instance, the big, deep chrome bumper looks great and will certainly appease those with a liking for all things ‘Americana’, but from a more fiscal perspective it offers all the aerodynamic efficiency of a house brick. Consequently, the bumper’s impact on fuel economy surely must be negative, particularly at highway speeds. Meantime, comments about the slab bumper made last year at the US unveiling of the model obviously fell on either deaf or indifferent ears.

Freightliner, of course, isn’t alone in offering such a blunt bumper but when the brand’s ownership and promotion of North America’s only full-scale wind tunnel at headquarters in Portland, Oregon, is taken into account, it seems remarkable that a more efficient design wasn’t created. Go figure!

Moving on, it’s an easy climb into the cab and with a wide array of seat adjustments and an air adjustable tilt and telescopic steering column, it doesn’t take long to find a comfortable perch behind the wheel. But seriously, in an otherwise well appointed and relatively upmarket cab, the fitting of a budget plastic steering wheel hub is completely out of sync with the general standard of cab appointments. It is, in fact, beyond comprehension.

A cynic might suggest that because Coronado 114 was developed for Australia only, the classy chrome and leather-wrapped wheel fitted standard in the 122 model – which is sold in both Australia and the US – simply wasn’t warranted in the 114. But not being a cynic, I’ll suggest it’s just an unfortunate oversight and with a little encouragement Freightliner will soon be fitting the premium wheel to its newest model.

Fortunately, that’s largely where the gripes end and from here on it’s a report of a truck that this driver found a delight to drive.

It starts with a 5150 mm (203 in.) wheelbase, a cab attached to a 34 inch mid-roof sleeper, and a Detroit DD15 fuelled to deliver maximum outputs of 560 hp and 1850 lb ft into an Eaton RTLO-20918 18-speed overdrive manual shifter. Performance goes to the ground through a Meritor RT46-160GP tandem running a 4.3:1 final drive ratio, riding on Freightliner’s popular AirLiner airbag rear suspensioin.

Up front, a Meritor FG941 steer axle rides on taper leaf springs while fuel is contained in three cylindrical tanks – twin 378 litres on the driver’s side and a single 567 litre on the passenger side just rearward of the battery box. Alcoa rims shod with Michelin rubber were fitted all-round.

According to a helpful attendant at Marulan weighbridge, the combination grossed 57.84 tonnes with splits of 5.66 tonnes over the steer, 16.22 tonnes on the drive and 18.08 and 17.88 tonnes respectively on first and second tri-axle sets.

In overall performance terms, the truck rates extremely well and hauling along the Hume with 100 km/h ticking over at a tad under 1650 rpm, steering quality was one of the stand-out attractions. Direct and precise, there’s absolutely no inkling of kick-back through the wheel and overall road handling earns top marks.

Likewise, ride quality rates well while forward vision over the drooping snout is appreciably improved over its longer nosed sibling, with electrically adjustable mirrors including spotters providing a good view rearward. Gratefully, there was no vibration of the mirror heads.

Again, it’s easy to find a good driving position and seats provide firm support without being so hard to cause a numb bum, while line of sight to gauges and switchgear is clear and uncluttered. Critically, the integrated seatbelt is comfortable even when the seat’s going through its motions on rough roads.

However, rougher concrete sections of the Hume extracted an occasional banging of something on the underside of the passenger floor which to my mind was probably due more to a service or maintenance oversight than an intrinsic flaw.

As for stick work, gearshifts are sharp and direct with the lever ideally placed, at least for this driver. Also from a personal perspective, space and features in the 34 inch mid-roof sleeper appear more than adequate for one-up linehaul work. There’s ample storage space above and below the bunk and while anyone shorter than six foot will have no trouble standing upright, I’d be surprised if even the lofty types will get the feeling of being jammed into a tin.

Noise levels were, however, perhaps greater than expected, particularly considering Freightliner’s claims for high levels of sound and heat insulation under the 114. The thing is though, the engine in this truck sounded and performed noticeably ‘different’ to previous stints behind a DD15.

And as later discussions would divulge, this engine had in fact received Detroit’s newest electronic calibration, apparently refining performance and efficiency standards to new levels. The result is a deeper rumble and a bolder energy than those recalled from earlier experiences, leading to a performance which on the long southbound drag up Catherine Hill near Mittagong saw the truck briefly drop to 13th gear at 1400 rpm on the steepest pinch before picking up the pace with a split up to 14th.

Given the overall standard of performance, I’d be happy to keep the rumble.

Meanwhile, at the end of more than 400 km up and down the Hume, fuel economy of 1.57 km/litre (4.4 mpg) was probably reasonable, particularly with such a large flat plank of bumper bulldozing its way through the air.

So in conclusion, Freightliner’s Coronado 114 is a truck I found easy to like from the driver’s chair. Sure, there are undoubtedly a few features that could (and should) be improved and a few tweaks to detail that wouldn’t go astray, but the design goals have been largely met and with the right levels of support, this is a model with the inherent fundamentals to fill a big blank in the brand’s book.

From here on, the ball is squarely in Freightliner’s court.


What’s in store for Western Star when the Penske deal goes through?

PaulGlavactakenbyChrisSmithYou could say the Commercial Vehicle Group was just not trashy enough for Transpacific Industries because it didn’t fit into the core refuse business. However, it sure is a treasure for its potential owners the Penske Automotive Group as it propels itself into the Australian market. Chris Smith reports.

It seems that everyone is a winner in the current sale of the Transpacific Industries (TPI) Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) to the Penske Automotive Group announced this month (August).
TPI CEO Kevin Campbell announced the $219 million sale would provide an $85 million tax profit for TPI in 2014 with $250 million knocked off its debt and with $12 million saved in annual interest payments alone. Good news for TPI investors.
For the buyers the news is even better because upon closing, the transaction is expected to generate approximately $420-$460 million in estimated annual US dollar-related revenues for Penske Automotive Group – which sounds like a very smart investment.
Closely involved in the deal is Roger Penske himself, at 76 he is a self made billionaire and the Chairman of the Penske Automotive Group (PAG) the second largest publicly traded automotive retailer in the United States. It owns and operates over 160 franchises in the US and 165 internationally representing over 40 brands.
The sale of the Commercial Vehicle Group (CVG) was the first question I put to Transpacific Industries retiring CEO Mr Campbell a month before the official announcement was issued. At that time he maintained he believed the CVG was not a core business to the primarily waste management company, however he said the board hadn’t given its assent to sell it off at that time.
Mr Campbell pointed towards TPI’s founder Terry Peabody’s grand vision to have a fully integrated business to be Australia’s biggest waste management company. He said the company had been on an “acquisition rampage” and basically purchased and parked and integrated the businesses which created a “horrendous cost base” which still plagued the company.
“His vision was, I guess I’m assuming I haven’t discussed it with him, I assume he was going to build the largest waste management company in Australia, which he did and at the time, before the GFC it was riding quite well but the rest of it is history,” pointing to his demise from the top job and the steep fall in the TPI share price.
At the time I also asked Paul Glavac the CEO of Transpacific Commercial Vehicle Group about sale rumours however he later confessed he was bound by confidentiality and could only refer to the company line, “Kevin Campbell has stated publically many times that he and the Board of Directors have decided that CVG is not core to the Waste Management Business and as such keeping their divestment options open. In the mean time I have a business to run and there is where my focus remains,” he had told me then.
How things change in a month and the number crunchers were literally in the boardroom at 72 Formation Drive Wacol, working to finalise the sales process due to be completed by September 30 as I got the now sanctioned update from Mr Glavac. He said the normal typical contractual agreements are being attended to but he sees no reason why they won’t be satisfied.

“To cut to the chase the deal has to be finalised and cheques exchanged, but essentially bring it on and let’s get on with it,” he told Diesel Magazine.

Mr Glavac is excited because it is not just an asset sale. “It is the total business the people the contracts everything, that is an important differentiator,” he said.
This means the essential structure of the business unit will stay the same however the business now becomes a part of a “core” automotive group which according to Mr Glavac is a hit with all the stakeholders involved.

“If you think about the people involved in this you’ve got Transpacific that are happy with the transaction, you’ve got the Penske Automotive Group who are happy with the transaction. If you think about my business you’ve got the OEMs you’ve got us, you’ve got our dealers and you’ve got our customers,” he says.

“We have made contact with everyone involved and the OEMs are delighted. We are delighted from a management group and people point of view because they see the advantages that being a “core” business will bring to what was formerly CVG.

“We’ve spoken to all our dealers and they see it as a very, very positive thing as well.

“And we have spoken to most of our A and B fleet customers and the feedback from every one of those links in the chain is really, really positive,” Mr Glavac was happy to point out.

Mr Glavac points to close synergies with CVG and PAG with a strong focus on human capital.

The initial story I interviewed Mr Campbell and Mr Glavac about was the focus on diversity within TPI.
“From a best practice point of view we will be looking at what PAG is doing, anything that we can pick up from what they are doing, in terms of diversity for women in business etcetera, we can add to what we have already started here,” Mr Glavac explained.

“The programs from Penske dovetail nicely with what we have in place because they are very big on succession planning and promoting from within.”

He also explained the customer focus of PAG will take the Australian business to a totally new level.

“In this organisation we always believed that we were customer focused but this organisation will just seriously bring it to a new level, they are highly professional,” he explained of PAG’s organisation.

Mr Glavac said although it is primarily automotive sales the last acquisition was the second largest Freightliner dealer group in the USA.

“They are expanding into trucks. That’s no surprise to me giving Roger’s background at Detroit Diesel,” he said.

Mr Glavac also pointed to possible future developments for PAG in Australia. He said outside the publically listed company Penske Corporation has a number of private businesses including accessories and components businesses catered towards trucking including truck leasing, truck rental, as well as logistics companies.

“You have Penske Truck Leasing, Truck-Lite, Davco outside of PAG, they are all privately held businesses by Penske and many of them are specifically truck related,” he explained.

Davco specialise in fuel-heater/water separators and filter systems for Class 8 heavy-duty trucks, medium trucks, marine and off-road applications, as well as the makers of industrial automatic oil replenishment systems, with regulators, slow flow meters, and fluid level switches and Truck-Lite which is a major producer of signal lighting, forward lighting, wiring harnesses, mirrors, turn signal switches, and safety accessories to the heavy duty truck, trailer, and commercial vehicle industries.

50,000th Canter truck sold in Australia purchased by StarTrack

50,000th Canter presented to StarTrack at 9:30 am on Monday, August 5, 2013 From right: Mr. Brett Arandale, Fleet Sales Manager FUSO, handing over the key to Mr. Scott Gardiner, StarTrack Manager Multihaul and Fleet Operations
50,000th Canter presented to StarTrack at 9:30 am on Monday, August 5, 2013
From right: Mr. Brett Arandale, Fleet Sales Manager FUSO, handing over the key to Mr. Scott Gardiner, StarTrack Manager Multihaul and Fleet Operations
This week represents an important milestone for Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) with the 50,000th Canter light-duty truck sold in Australia being delivered on Monday morning to theStarTrack depot in Minchinbury NSW.

“Over the years, FUSO like StarTrack has evolved to meet the needs of its customers. One thing that has not changed is the commitment to customer service. We are delighted to receive the 50,000th Canter vehicle,” said Stephen Cleary, StarTrack Chief Executive Officer.

“StarTrack has been purchasing FUSO trucks since the 80s, and the Canter and Fighter models currently make up more than half of our fleet. The Canter offers driver comfort, reliability and fuel efficiency that helps keep our business moving forward,” said Scott Gardiner, StarTrack Manager Multihaul and Fleet Operations.

As well as celebrating the delivery of its 50,000th Canter light-duty truck sold in Australia to StarTrack, one of Australia’s leading road and air freight operators. This Australian milestone follows another important milestone for Canter in 2013, with Canter celebrating its 50th birthday earlier this year.

“For 50 years, the Canter light-duty truck has continually delivered on FUSO’s promise of ALL FOR YOU to our customers. This has made the Canter a big success story. Canter has proven itself over the last 50 years to be a very reliable and capable light-duty truck, not just in its home country of Japan, but around the globe. The Canter has played and continues to play a critical role in ongoing success of MFTBC as a company. In many countries, it is the Canter that customers know us by and on what the strength and reputation of the Fuso brand is based,” said Dr Albert Kirchmann, Head of Daimler Trucks Asia and MFTBC President and CEO.

Kai-Uwe Seidenfuss, MFTBC Senior Vice President of Sales & After Sales, added, “The Canter is a real success story for us, and if you speak with the customers, it is easy to see why. Customers really appreciate the high quality of the product. They are especially happy with the reliability and operability of this truck. Our customers also give high marks for the safety features, serviceability and fuel efficiency built in to the Canter. People trust Canter to help them to run their businesses successfully year in, year out. We design our trucks for business, and we are happy that our customers notice this.”

“In the first half of 2013, Canter has enjoyed a significant lift in market share and we are currently on track to see Canter achieve its highest market share in over 20 years,” said Richard Eyre, General Manager for Fuso trucks and buses in Australia.

“The ongoing support we get from our customers,  and strong share increase in the first half of 2013, is confirmation and a testament to Canter’s ongoing reliability and value for money. In fact, today’s Canter buyer has more choice than ever before and they get more for their money.  Our model range, back up programs and special offers has never been as comprehensive or as strong as they are today.”

50 years of the Canter light-duty truck

The first generation of the Fuso Canter light-duty truck came onto the market in March 1963 in Japan. 50 years and eight generations later, MFTBC is proud to celebrate the truck as a bestseller, with global sales of 3,700,000 units sold since its original market launch in its home market of Japan.

In Australia, Canter enjoys a long tradition where it has been sold for 40 years. Canter cemented its place in Australia as a household name when it was the first Japanese truck company to introduce a wide cab over truck in 1978. The model was launched using the very novel and memorable “not so squeezy” TV commercial, which used Sumo wrestlers to promote Canters’ superior interior space. Today, the Sumo and “not so squeezy” catch phrase are still synonymous with the Fuso brand and Canter still remains a popular choice with light-duty truck operators.

Entrepreneur builds Isuzu FRR 500 to service pleasure boat industry

all-aboard-the-marine-doctor-tmknsmflFor Sonny Tilbury, his new Isuzu FRR 500 is just what the doctor ordered to service the popular multi-million dollar pleasure boat industry.

The keen entrepreneur has transformed his Isuzu truck into a mobile mechanical workshop on wheels for his company, the Marine Doctor.

The FRR 500 allows Sonny to make house calls to service and repair pleasure boat engines, trailers and electrical wiring in the Perth and Karratha areas – a facility that larger boat repair companies don’t offer.

The opportunity for a mobile boat mechanic became apparent to Sonny after watching numerous customers wasting time and money towing their boat to a workshop for simple servicing, which could easily be conducted without the boat leaving the owner’s home.

His idea came to life in 2000 when he purchased a Toyota Hiace van as the workhorse for the first Marine Doctor mobile workshop.  The variety of work Sonny found himself undertaking quickly outgrew the van’s capacity; the Isuzu FRR 500 is the third reincarnation.

With more than 17 years’ experience as a fully qualified mechanic, it’s no surprise that Sonny experiences strong demand for his expertise in this niche industry.

He grew up with boats and was able to maintain his first very own dingy at the young age of 13.

According to Sonny, the FRR 500 helps him get the job done quickly and efficiently.

“I’ve always wanted my own Isuzu truck. My father used to have one when I was growing up,” he said.

“When I was looking for a replacement vehicle, I only looked at Isuzus.

“The only issue was trying to decide which model I should go for!

“Isuzu’s quality and reliability comes second to none – I can’t fault it at all.

“The heavy duty non-slip entry steps are also ideal for wet shoes.

The body of the truck is a custom-made design based on the Snap-on Tools trucks, built by Empire Film Services located in Haberfield, New South Wales. The body has specialised holding shelves, air conditioning, toolboxes and a generator.

In order to work on the go, Sonny has also fitted an office area and a toilet inside the truck body.

Helping approximately 15 customers a week on boats up to 40 feet long, Sonny prefers to work alone as he can’t find anyone he can rely on to work to his standards.

Most of his work comes by word-of-mouth or as a result of people seeing the bright signage on his truck which acts like a mobile billboard.

“It’s a great looking truck, ideal for helping me spread the word about the business.”

According to Sonny, it is important to have a truck that can easily accommodate the eight tonne load of the workshop body as well as heavy loads of boat parts and repair equipment.

“The FRR 500 is definitely durable and powerful enough to survive driving down gravel roads while towing a boat at the same time,” he said.

“It gets up hills surprisingly easily, almost effortlessly.  I rate the FRR 500’s performance 10 out of 10.”

Western Star Trucks Australia to be sold to Penske Automotive

Penske Automotive Group, an international automotive retailer, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire a distributor of commercial vehicles, related spare parts and aftermarket support across Australia and New Zealand and portions of Southeast Asia from Transpacific Industries Group Limited. MAD D2 BTS 13_1944

Western Star Trucks Australia primarily distributes heavy and medium-duty trucks for Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle through a network of over 80 independent dealers while serving customers across a number of industries, including on-highway, logistics, construction, mining, manufacturing, agricultural and waste/refuse collection.

The Western Star truck brand, an affiliate of Daimler Trucks North America, is a top-three Australian heavy-duty truck brand and holds a leading position in key market segments. The MAN Truck and Bus brand is majority-owned by Volkswagen AG and is within the top-six suppliers to the Australian bus market. Dennis Eagle is a growing brand within the specialist refuse collection vehicle market.

Closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the third quarter of 2013.  Including vehicle inventory, parts, assets and goodwill, the company expects the total purchase price to be approximately US$200 (AU$215,801,753) which will be financed using available cash flow from operations and availability under the company’s credit and floorplan financing facilities.  The transaction is subject to specified closing conditions, including OEM approval.

“Western Star Trucks provides us with an attractive gateway to enhance our global business profile,” said Penske Automotive Group Chairman Roger S. Penske.

“Strong market dynamics, multiple growth options and one of the largest and well-established dealer networks in Australia and New Zealand enhance the business opportunity.  We believe that our existing relationships with heavy and medium-duty truck manufacturers and our experience in operating distribution and dealership-related businesses provide us with a unique opportunity to expand our business while potentially providing a steppingstone to Southeast Asian markets for other parts of our business.”

Western Star Trucks has a seasoned local management team which is expected to provide a seamless transition.

Paul Glavac, Managing Director of Transpacific Commercial Vehicle Group said, “We are very eager to move forward as part of Penske Automotive Group – we now have a total company focus on commercial vehicles, and access to additional professional business practices and automotive experience which will provide for enhanced customer service and a broader platform for growth for us and our dealers. We are excited about our prospects and look forward to continue to work with our existing dealers and customers.”

“Our relationship with Transpacific will remain strong, and we will continue to provide quality products and customer service to this industry leading company.”

Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Haulmark Trailers win $1.58 billion ADF contract

HX-77-8x8 Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia and Haulmark Trailers are big winners in the latest contracts for the supply of the Australian Defence Force’s next generation of trucks and trailers.

The deal comes under the Phase 3B of Project LAND 121 – ‘Project Overlander’ and is reported on the Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles website as being worth AU$1.58 billion dollars for the group.

Minister for Defence Materiel Dr Mike Kelly said the new vehicles, modules and trailers to be delivered under LAND 121 Phase 3B would see Defence acquire the next generation of vehicles in protected and unprotected configurations – representing a significant increase in safety, capability and protection for the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The 2013 Defence White Paper outlined the requirement to provide around 2700 protected and unprotected medium and heavy vehicles, together with trailers and specialist modules, under Project LAND 121 Phase 3B.

These will include: medium and heavy recovery vehicles; medium and heavy tractors; heavy integrated load-handling vehicles (self-loading hook lift trucks); and medium-weight tray variants (with cranes and tippers).

“The vehicles will have enhanced performance and protection representing a significant increase in safety, as well as providing consistency across the fleet, ensuring improved efficiency in operator training and simplifying logistic support to land forces,” Dr Kelly said.

“The maintenance and through-life support for the vehicles and trailers will be undertaken in Australia and is in addition to the previously approved LAND 121 Phase 3A that is replacing the current fleet of ADF light unprotected field vehicles and trailers.

“This phase included the acquisition of around 2150 unprotected Mercedes Benz G-Wagon 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles and trailers to enable tactical training.”

The first vehicles of “Land 121” Phase 3B are to be delivered starting in 2016, with the contract due for completion in 2020.


Hino’s theme is “tough” at Perth Truck Show

Hino in PerthHino’s stand at the  Perth Truck and Trailer Show beginning this Friday will focus on its products built to thrive and survive in tough environments.

The stand, which is presented by WA Hino in conjunction with Hino Australia, will feature six examples of Hino’s extensive truck and bus range.

WA Hino Dealer Principal Paul McGovern said Hino’s stand at the biennial event promotes the quality, durability and reliability of the entire Hino range.

“The punishment doled out to mine service vehicles on a daily basis is among the harshest of any commercial vehicle,” he said.

“Rough terrain, heavy loads and steep inclines are a standard part of each shift.

“Our stand will showcase Hino models that rise to the challenge time and again.”

Completed just in time for the show is a medium duty 500 Series GT 1322 4×4 cab chassis fitted with an off-road, go-anywhere bus module by Remote Access Vehicles.

Commissioned by Northfleet Bus to service the needs of FIFO (fly in, fly out) and DIDO (drive in, drive out) workforces, the 34-seat bus is capable of delivering mine staff anywhere on site while contributing to safety by reducing the amount of light vehicle traffic.

Also muscling onto the stand is Hino’s 700 Series FY 3248 8×4, fitted with Action Mining Services’ heavy-duty, chassis-mounted service module.

The module has no fewer than nine compartments, able to carry 6700 litres of diesel, 300 kilograms of grease, 1430 litres of hydraulic oil, 1000 litres of engine oil, 620 litres of gear oil, 560 litres of waste oil, 560 litres of water and 630 litres of coolant simultaneously, with a spare tank ready to carry a further 560 litres of fluid.
Hino’s 700 Series FY 3248 8×4 hauls this bulk thanks to 480 horsepower and more than 2150Nm of torque driving the two rear axles.

Keeping up the momentum after its debut at the Brisbane Truck Show earlier this year is the heavy duty 700 Series SS 2848 High-Roof ProShift 16 Air prime mover.

With power and torque figures matching its mine-destined brother, the SS takes the twin-axle drive of the FY 8×4 and combines it with a road-going, single-steer axle.

Rounding out the display are two light duty 300 Series trucks and another from the medium duty 500 Series range. The 4.5-tonne GVM 300 Series 616 IFS TradeAce model has alloy ladder racks, tray and bull-bar fitted as standard, as well as front and rear disc brakes with vehicle stability and traction control.

The 6.5-tonne GVM 716 Hybrid model is fitted with an aluminium tray body with drop sides built and fitted by GTB in Melbourne.

Showcasing the blank canvas of a 500 Series cab-chassis is a feature-filled FD 1124 fitted with Hino’s renowned six-speed ProShift 6 automated manual transmission, providing the superior control and fuel efficiency of a conventional manual with the ease of use of a traditional automatic gearbox.
The Perth Truck and Trailer Show will run from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 July at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre.

For tickets, go to or call Premiere Events on (08) 9386 9666.

Scania scores a 55 truck order from Linfox

Scania Linfox VIP Group handover
(L-R) Ray Gamble, Peter Fox, Roger McCarthy and Steven Alberse

Scania Australia has started the delivery of the first of 55 new Scania 440 hp SCR prime movers to Linfox, which will be split between the company’s Victorian and New South Wales operations.

The deal is the biggest Scania has concluded with the logistics leader for many years.

“We are very pleased to be delivering such a significant order of fuel-efficient and safe vehicles to Linfox for use with some of their very high profile clients,” says Roger McCarthy, Scania Australia’s Managing Director.

“We signed the order late last year, and the factory was able to paint the trucks in the iconic Linfox red and yellow as part of the production process.

“The vehicles will be maintained by Scania workshops on a scheduled servicing and repair programme that offers Linfox a known cost-per-km for the duration of the contract. This is an example of how the Scania Total Transport Solution concept works to provide efficient whole-of-life running costs for Linfox.”

Scania was successful in winning the Linfox business for a variety of reasons, according to Scania National Fleet Sales Manager, Steven Alberse.

“Good fuel economy and low cab entry played key roles, plus the cab-over configuration for easy access to tight loading docks,” he says.

In keeping with the Scania philosophy of providing a Total Transport Solution, Scania has deployed its Master Driver Trainers to train the Linfox driver trainers regarding the full range of Scania driver support functions inside the cabs.

“The vehicles are equipped with the new Scania Fully Automated Opticruise gear-changing system, as well as the Scania Retarder, and Scania Driver Support, all of which enable the driver to reduce consumption and emissions, while at the same time maintaining safe and efficient work practices.”

Linfox President Fleet and Procurement Ray Gamble says, “Linfox is pleased to add Scania’s new prime movers to our growing fleet of more than 5,000 vehicles.”

“The Euro5 vehicles adhere to Linfox’s on-going commitment to the safety of our drivers and the sustainability and reliability of our operations,” he says.

The Scania P 440 SCR engine is the most powerful six-cylinder engine available under the P-series cab, and offers 440 hp (324 kW) and 2,300 Nm of torque between 1,000 and 1,300 rpm.

The 6×4 configuration prime movers use the fully automated Scania Opticruise, which makes them easy to drive and reduces driver fatigue. The vehicles are fitted with ABS and traction control and are compatible with trailer Electronic Braking Systems, enhancing safety and control.

The all-steel cabs are impact-tested to ensure they exceed European and Swedish safety standards in order to be able to offer the best possible occupant protection.


Mitch’s Mobile Tyre Service’s fleet of Isuzu NPR 300s is always on call

Regardless of whether it’s day or night, Mitch’s Mobile Tyre Service’s fleet of Isuzu NPR 300s is always on call to help stranded customers.isuzu-provides-traction-for-tyre-business-qfgrtyaz

Located in Gympie, Queensland, the tyre specialists come to the rescue when private or business customers are stranded or immobilised by a flat tyre.

Established in 2010, the company offers over 15 years’ collective automotive industry experience provided by its four employees, who include business owners and friends Lesley Mitchell and Ross Sims.

Business Partner, Mick Sims, said the NPR 300s have the power needed to get the job done with ease.

“These little rippers are the pick of the bunch. We have two in our fleet so far and we are currently having a third fitted out,” Mick said.

“Their power output (114 kW @ 2,600 RPM) is ideal for the large range of heavy tyre fitting equipment we carry; we’re equipped to change tyres on any vehicle, from light to heavy duty.”

The company services private, business and fleet customers who operate vehicles ranging from trucks and tractors to earthmoving equipment, forklifts and industrial vehicles.

The trucks are fully equipped and self-sufficient with on board power, air and the latest tyre fitting tools.

Designed by local bodybuilder, Tracwell, the bodies take up to four months to build, complete with tool boxes and compartments to hold all the equipment needed to fit a tyre at any location.

The working equipment includes 100 CFM rotary screw compressors, hydraulic bead breakers, heavy duty hydraulic jacking equipment, tailgate lifters and safety lighting for night work.

As part of the service, the team can fit and balance replacement tyres on the roadside so stranded customers don’t need to experience the inconvenience of having their vehicle towed away to a service centre.

With Mitch’s Mobile Tyre Service offering all the major tyre brands, Mick said the team could fix any tyre problem they come across quickly and efficiently.

According to Mick, the company is very happy with the performance and comfort of the Isuzu trucks.

“The NPR 300s drive very easily and smoothly on highways,” Mick said.

“The roomy cabs are also great for extra storage.

“We chose the NPR 300s because they are smart looking trucks with a great reputation. We definitely made the right choice.”