Chinese trucks have been knocking on the door of the Australian truck market for quite a few years now and the point at which a Chinese truck will be accepted here is getting closer every day. Diesel News has a close look at the latest contender, the Foton Aumark S.
If there is one thing which Chinese truck makers are good at in the Australian market, it is in providing us with a false dawn. Over the last 10 years there have been a series of Chinese truck manufacturers appearing on the market and hoping to look like a serious contender in light duty and a potential contender in medium duty.
So far, all of the attempts to break into this market, which is extremely competitive and dominated by three highly professional Japanese truck manufacturers Isuzu, Hino and Fuso, have not been successful. JAC Trucks came and went. Likewise, JMC trucks appeared for a short time then disappeared in a short few months.
Foton is now pushing its product in to the Australian truck market in its third attempt. The brand first appeared here over 10 years ago, imported by the company which was then also importing Western Star, MAN and Dennis Eagle. The brand reappeared a few years later under the Ateco umbrella, bringing in both small trucks and utes, but again, this was relatively short lived.
With the latest entry into the market by Foton, it’s clearly a serious attempt by a major Chinese brand to enter into the Australian truck market and develop a real presence. This is a factory-backed operation in Australia with key personnel coming here from China and running the organisation.
Foton appear to have quite an ambitious program. Starting with the 4.5 to 7.5 tonne GCM light duty Aumark S and then following this up later this year with a medium duty truck running at 12 tonnes GCM.
This latest entry to the market also has the advantage of being an up-to-date truck and not something which looks like it might have been available from a Japanese manufacturer 15 or 20 years ago. The latest models have been specified to get a lot closer to their more established Japanese competitors.
Where these trucks sit in the current market is a subject for some discussion. These are brand-new trucks, fully compliant with the latest exhaust emission regulations and fitted with an array of electronic aids, but they are likely to be sold at a price much lower than would be expected for a similar specification from a Japanese manufacture.
This suggests that instead of competing head-to-head with a new Japanese truck, these trucks will be competing against good quality secondhand Japanese trucks which are only a couple of years old. In this case, the bundle, which includes a four year warranty and four year free scheduled servicing will be getting closer every day to being attractive to quite a few potential buyers in this segment of the market.