With the reintroduction of the International brand, it probably time to ask the question, where to now for International? The first models unveiled this year are variations on the ProStar models.
Let’s assume the ProStar hits the spot for International, the brand is welcomed back into the open arms of Australian truck buyers and proves to be an effective addition to the offering for the Iveco brands and its dealers. Of course, this is by no means a foregone conclusion, but it is also feasible. International does still have a loyal fan base among the trucking community, the brand remains strong.
If this scenario does play out, the timing looks good; the heavy-duty truck market seems to be on a steady rise, International will look to expand the range over a series of steps. This would give Iveco/International dealers an opportunity to stock a full offering to market with both European and North American options.
First up will probably be an extension to the ProStar range itself. An increased engine rating choice would be one area operators will look for. As will more choice in front and rear axles and suspension options. Along with this might come different GCM ratings, which are currently capped at 90 tonnes (with up to 110 available upon application).
What about a smaller, lighter engine? The ProStar in the US has just begun to be offered with the International A26 engine. This is the latest iteration of the 13-litre, derived from the MAN D26 and a result of the increased co-operation and financial stake Volkswagen is taking in Navistar. This is a high-tech torquey engine which will perform well for ProStars running at lower masses.
For the US market, International does offer a substantial range. The ProStar we are getting is a mixture of three US models. The ProStar is the basic platform, but we are getting the shorter bonnet from the Transtar and the bigger sleeper cab is more like the HX series long-distance hauler. All of which do come with the 13-litre A26 engine, at least as an option.
Looking at heavier trucks, International has the LoneStar and the 9900 available in the US. The LoneStar is the truck many truckies here in Australia will aspire to drive. It has the aggressive grille and big cab, plus the Cummins X15 under the big long bonnet. It genuinely looks the business.
Those aspiring truckies are likely to be disappointed. As it stands, the LoneStar could not be imported into Australia, it is too wide. It is very much a left-hand-drive truck and has been designed as such.
The kind of engineering and development work required to reshape the truck into something which is legal and durable enough for Australia is going to be expensive and take some time. The potential sales numbers the truck would generate are likely to be relatively low – it is not a fleet truck and most owner drivers are looking for a practical, not a show, truck.
The other heavy, the 9900, is a more traditional truck, it was assembled and sold here as the Eagle. There are still quite a few who would jump at the chance of owning a new 9900. However, again, the kind of development dollars needed compared to potential sales make it a non-goer.
Looking down the range, there are some more practical possibilities. The most obvious one is the HX Series, a vocational truck sold into rigid tipper and similar applications. It is described in the US as being a ‘severe duty’ truck, but would probably need some beefing up to meet our demanding conditions. It can be fitted with the X15 and the A26, both of which would suit the kind of work it would need to do here.
The smaller tipper chassis is the WorkStar, with a similar shape to the 9700 models sold in Australia over ten years ago. The biggest engine this can fit is the 13-litre but the age of its design may well count against it, when considering adapting it to Australia.