The Australian truck market is witnessing the return of Foton, as the Chinese truck maker introduces a new range of trucks into the light and medium duty truck market. Two models are slated for release in the coming months.
There have been a couple of previous appearances for the Foton here in Australia, but this time the Chinese parent company is involved, bringing its own people to Australia to get the brand kick started.
There are two truck models coming into the country, the Aumark and the Auman. The Aumark is the more familiar light duty offering and the Auman is the name used for the truck maker’s higher GCM models right up to heavy duty prime mover size. The new models coming onto the market in 2019 are the Aumark S and the larger Auman EST
In China, Foton is involved in a close relationship with Daimler Trucks and this relationship can be seen in the design of the front grille on these new trucks. It is very reminiscent of the Mercedes Benz grille on the new range of trucks introduced here back in 2016.
There is also a joint venture with Cummins which provides the 3.8 litre engine in the Aumark S, which comes on stream in the next month or so, here in Australia. Power is 150hp. It will be available as both a 4.5 tonne GVM and a heavier 7.5 tonne version.
This model is a considerable upgrade on the Foton models we have seen on the Australian market before. The new electronic architecture, which comes along with the new modern Benz-like look, brings with is electronic stability control, ABS, hill start assist and lane departure warning. These are all features which are becoming the standard in the more modern Japanese trucks in this market.
The gearbox comes from another of Foton’s joint venture partners, ZF. The German transmission specialist’s six speed manual gearbox is offered in the Aumark S.
With disc brakes all round, the Aumark uses a full air braking control system. This is consistent with all of the other Chinese truck manufacturers who have dipped a toe into the Australian trucking waters.
Later in the year we will see the appearance of the Foton Auman EST, a much more ambitious move into the Australian truck market. This is a 12 tonne GVM model and a first for a Chinese manufacturer here in Australia, a move into the medium duty market. This is currently slated to make its first appearance on the market in June.
Power on this model comes from a 4.5 litre Cummins ISF with 185hp on tap. This drives through another, but heavier, six speed transmission from ZF.
The new trucks’ first appearance in Queensland saw the Foton team put a number of examples of different body options on display to suit the Aumark S, but only a cab chassis configuration on the larger Auman. Body options will come along later.
The new body shape and grille does make these trucks look much more modern than their clunky predecessors. The new CANbus electronic architecture does enable the manufacturer to plug into all of the latest technology.
The question will be, and it always is with the launch of a Chinese brand, just how well does the truck suit our market and does the truck maker understand the Aussie truck buyer enough to reach the kind of modest sales targets the company is setting for itself.