This year will see the introduction of a number of new models from International. There are four basic models in the new ProStar range arriving on the Australian truck market – a day-cab prime mover, a day-cab tipper chassis, an extended cab sleeper and a 40-inch sleeper-cab prime mover option.
All of these will have just one engine option – the Cummins X15, the renamed evolution of the highly successful E5 ISX. It will be rated at 550hp (410kW) and put out 2,580Nm (1850 ft lb) of torque. This is probably the most popular engine and rating in the Australian heavy-duty market. So no surprises there.
As you look down the specification list, the names that come up are all very familiar – this is a range aimed at the heart of the Aussie truck market. Hendrickson Primaax rear suspension, Meritors, front and rear, Roadranger or Ultrashift, Sheppard steering, Horton fan and many more would all appear on the favoured option list for most of the North American brands in Australia.
Choosing the Ultrashift Plus option on the gearbox will introduce the opportunity to utilise the ADEPT system, a cooperative electronic linking of Eaton transmission and Cummins engine to maximise performance and minimise fuel use, which is proving a popular fuel-saving choice for a number of operators.
Inside the cabin will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time looking around the Cat models on offer. However, there have been some improvements on the interior layout integrated into the new ProStar. One is the improved space for the driver’s left foot, often an issue for US-made trucks. The engine cover has been reshaped and the left foot has a resting pad just to the left of the clutch.
These two global players have given themselves a chance with these new models. Navistar seeks to gain from opening up another truck market for its plant at Escobedo in Monterrey, Mexico at the same time as, if Trump has his way, importing into the US from south of the border may become less attractive.
For Iveco in Australia, this is a chance for the company and its dealer network to get themselves back on track as a serious player in the truck market. The ongoing success of the Acco has papered over a few cracks in the Iveco organisation. The introduction of a real North American truck into the mix may give Iveco a chance to consolidate and not be quite so reliant on one ageing vocational model.
The $64,000 question is whether the truck buyers of Australia will take to this newcomer. The strength of the International brand is not to be underestimated. The trucking industry has a long memory and a lot of people made a lot of money running Inters in the past, and may well want to do so in the future.
The true test will be when there are bums in seats where the driving experience and overall performance can be assessed in a real world setting. Look out for a drive test report in an upcoming Diesel Magazine.