The Australian truck market is witnessing a return of a familiar brand, Foton is back for more. The Chinese truck maker is introducing a new range of trucks into the light and medium duty truck market. Diesel News looks at the intention of the brand to release two new models.
There have been a couple of previous appearances for the Foton here in Australia, but this time the Chinese parent company was involved, bringing its own people to Australia to get the brand kickstarted.
On two previous occasions over the last ten years an Australian importer has tried to launch the brand onto our light duty market. Their level of success was probably better than other Chinese truck brands which have arrived here, but the initial importation phase did not transform into a sustainable ongoing business.
Any Chinese truck brand trying to enter the Australian market faces considerable hurdles, not least the fact that at least three have appeared in the last ten years, with limited success, and then disappeared, it seems, without trace.
Secondly, these trucks are coming into a market at the light and medium duty end, a segment dominated by high-selling Japanese brands. These guys have been retailing good solid and relatively cheap trucks to a wide cohort of truck buyers for a considerable time using price as well as reliability as the selling point.
If a Chinese truck brand wants to enter our already crowded truck market, it needs to target where it might be able to make inroads. The price point at which these trucks look set to enter the market is below $50,000 for the light duty and below $70,000 in medium duty. This puts the trucks in direct competition with good quality second hand Japanese product, and this looks like the area Foton is targeting.
One of the elements the Chinese truck maker is using to make these trucks more attractive is a four year warranty along with four years free servicing included in the initial asking price. When this is the offering the customer can then make a simple judgement call.
This call will be made on the credibility of the brand and whether the truck will be OK for four years, or whether the brand will still be here in four years. This is going to be the main issue for any Chinese truck brand, credibility. A credibility which has been shaken by other Chinese truck brands and other importers coming in with product and promises, before putting selling trucks in Australia into the ‘too-hard’ basket.
As with any of these kinds of developments, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. This latest incursion into Australia is, for the first time, a ‘factory’ operation. The entity selling these trucks is a wholly owned subsidiary of Foton’s owners in China. This may add some credibility.
The fact of the matter is, at some point a Chinese truck maker is going to get it right and gain a foothold in the truck market in Australia. The question is, will it be Foton?