As a result of credible improved fuel consumption claims, Scania trucks started to appear, in recent years, in the big fleets and market share has grown substantially, hitting the heady heights of 8.3 per cent market share in 2017, selling 1,003 trucks.
Scania has traditionally been a small player in Australia, in a market dominated by US brands. Market share of three to four per cent was considered decent by the parent company, par for the course and a level at which the organisation here could remain profitable.
The change began when Roger McCarthy relocated from the UK to Australia as Managing Director back in 2009. He had led several successes there, overseeing the period when Scania realigned its position from a small fleet and owner-driver truck business to one in which the big players were willing to invest. The truck sales in Australia took a similar course here during his time at the helm down under.
Of course this isn’t a Scania-only phenomena. There is a general shift away from US to European across the board in heavy duty. In 2017, over 15 per cent of heavy-duty sales were for Volvo trucks, 6.7 per cent for Mercedes-Benz, and the other European brands picked up 12 per cent. This equates to over 40 per cent market share.
The subject of fuel consumption seems to have become more of an issue than it has in the past. People have always said fuel savings were important, but often chose trucks for other reasons. The recent success of the very fuel-efficient new-generation Mercedes-Benz Actros range shows this change in attitude.
Scania will be hoping that the more fuel-efficient NGT figures shown in Europe will be translated across into Australian conditions. If this is the case, the Swedes can expect to further increase market share over the current unprecedented figures.
Skillful handling of a truck can get you some substantial fuel saving, often over 20 per cent. Likewise, unskilled handling of a truck can cost you a lot in fuel. The beauty of this latest generation of truck technology is the fact that the electronic control system is smart enough to replicate a lot of what the smart driver will do.
This is the case as long as the driver can be persuaded to turn all of the automated systems on and let the truck do the thinking for them on the open road. Of course, a driver with a heavy right foot will always be a driver with a heavy right foot, but these systems do give them the opportunity to rest that foot and take it easy.
Over the course of one week a number of journalists drove two test trucks up and down the Hume Highway. Although not a large representative sample, they are a diverse group. Some have a lot of truck driving experience, others very little, so the fuel results achieved can give us some ballpark figures.
Over the course of 3,677 kilometres, the G500 managed 2.11 km/l while being loaded to 55.5 tonnes all of the way. The Opticruise AMT was in standard mode for 64 per cent of the time and in economy for 34 per cent. Meanwhile, the R620 was running at 61.5 tonnes and achieved a 1.82 km/l result over the same period, running in standard mode for 76 per cent of the drive.
Considering these are very new trucks with low kilometres on them, being driven by people who drive a truck once a month at best, this is a creditable result. If the new battle ground – between European trucks at least – is to be fuel consumption, Scania is clearly going to be a contender.