This week Navistar Auspac, the company which imports Cat Trucks into Australia, has announced their plans to make an announcement at Brisbane Truck Show. The company will outline its plans for the reintroduction of the International Trucks brand into Australia.
Navistar are keeping their powder dry and unwilling to flesh out any details in advance. The comeback for International was revealed in the November/December 2014 issue of Diesel Magazine, at a point when Navistar were still grappling with decisions about which models to bring in and where to sell them.
Apparently, those issues are now settled and the company are committed to the new brand. There will be a teaser, and some more information, on the stand in Brisbane, before an introduction of the models into Australia in 2016.
There is bound to be a good deal of interest in International from the trucking industry. It is an iconic Australian brand and alongside Ford, dominated the truck market in the late 20th century. The false dawn of the reintroduction of International ten years ago dwindled several years ago, but now the truck manufacturer is back in its own right.
The question in many minds is, which models will we see coming off the boat later this year for the 2016 relaunch?
The flagship for the brand in the US is the Lonestar, an iconic and instantly recognisable heavy duty prime mover designed for the owner driver. In fact, the model has also sold well into fleets in the US, a truck with plenty of bling helps with driver retention.
The chances of this truck arriving in serious numbers is quite low. The cost of redesigning for right hand drive and getting the brittle front grille protected from Aussie roads looks to make the LoneStar an expensive option. However, if you are going to reintroduce the International brand to Australia, the LoneStar is the kind of headliner to bring a big bang to the show. It will certainly turn heads and tell everyone International is back.
The ProStar is the go-to prime mover for many large fleets in the US. It is a proven performer, in terms of durability and fuel economy. However, it is also the model from which the current Cat brand on sale in Australia derives. This could create some conflicts for Navistar in terms of brand definition between Cat and International. There can be some differentiation. You can buy the Cat version with a C 15 engine or a 13 litre alternative, or you can go for the International model with the same basic cab, but with a Cummins ISX engine. Back to the old red vs yellow rivalry!
The segment of the truck market in Australia where the ProStar would work is where the big sales numbers are. It can be sold all the way from a cheap fleet spec right up to the blinged up fit-out of the owner driver, set up as a single trailer prime mover or, at a higher power rating, as a B-double prime mover. You pays your money….
There is a more rugged vocational heavy prime mover model, with the PayStar, on the US market. The truck is very reminiscent of the 9200 models built and sold in Australia by Iveco ten years ago. Power comes from an International 13 litre or the Cummins ISX platform. This model is probably not modern enough to fit with the image Navistar will be trying to project in Australia.
Another contender to be one of the first out of the box is the WorkStar. This is the latest, and much more modern, iteration of the model sold here as the 7600, for a short time. The truck is available in an extremely wide range of configurations and options in the US. It is sold all the way from a 4×2 to an 8×6 model and power options vary from the 13 litre International engine (already sold here as the Cat CT 13) all the way through an 11, 10, 9 litre International or a Cummins ISB. Configurations are set up for tipper, agitator, prime mover, garbage and other applications.
Could this model find a home in Australia? Most probably, and the breadth of the specifications possible means Navistar should come up with a few specs ideally suited to our market. There’s also an 8×4 available, but load sharing suspension could be an issue.
Getting into the lighter end of the market may be a long term aim for Navistar, but unlikely to be the Americans’ first port of call. There are a couple of models which may come into contention.
The DuraStar is normally sold as a 4×2 but can be ordered as a 6×4. Power can either come from a Cummins ISB 7 litre or the 9 litre International engine. The wide range of options available do make this a possibility. It is not the world’s prettiest truck, but does look functional. It remains an outsider for introduction.
The International TerraStar is unlikely to see the light of day, as it plays in the area totally dominated by the Japanese trucks in Australia. It is a medium duty truck with a conventional cab designed to look like a smaller version of the heavier ranges. Power comes from the 7 litre Maxxforce engine. This truck can be seen in large number on the streets of US cities but would be unlikely to make much of a mark here.
One option sold by International in Mexico is very unlikely to get a guernsey here. The PayStar is a light duty cabover, made in China by JAC Trucks, as part of a deal between Navistar and the Chinese truck maker.