Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks

In the news this week have been a Top Female Driver, Australian Truck Manufacturing, Penske Dealership Change and Autonomous Trucks and the need for supporting infrastructure.

Tasmanian Kerri Connors, of Caltas, was named winner of the 2017 Volvo Drivers’ Fuel Challenge on-road category in a competition which put Australia’s most fuel-efficient drivers head to head. The off-road title was claimed by Cameron Simpson of Simpson’s Fuel in Victoria. Over a two-day event at Mt Cotton in Queensland, the competition was whittled down from 17 drivers in the semi-final, to nine in the final.

“Highlighting the huge impact every driver has on a company’s fuel consumption, out of the nine drivers in the final, Kerri completed the challenging on-road course using 7.8 per cent less fuel than least-efficient driver in this year’s final, and keeping in mind these are the best of the best,” said Mitch Peden, Volvo Vice President. “In a real-world scenario, that equates to massive savings for operators.”

This year Volvo identified the competitors using data from Dynafleet, instead of running a series of heats around the country, comparing the telematics scores to identify the nation’s best-performing drivers.

“All competitors had consistently demonstrated fuel-efficiency while driving fully-laden trucks on genuine commercial journeys,” said Mitch, “consistency like that over months is a lot harder to achieve than getting lucky on a single day.”


Building more trucks in Australia

Iveco is to start building an additional Stralis model in its Dandenong facility in Melbourne. The truck is currently sold in Australia as a fully imported model, but from the fourth quarter of 2017 the Stralis ATi will be assembled at Dandenong, as the Stralis AT. Selected components including mirrors, wheel angles, trailer connections, batteries, wheels and liquids will be sourced locally.

The Stralis AT variants will include a 6×4 prime mover and 6×2 rigid in a variety of specification options, and will join existing Stralis AS-L, Powerstar, Acco and Delta and Metro bus chassis models, which are locally built and/or manufactured in Melbourne.

The new truck will see the Dandenong facility undergo investment in tooling and software to calibrate the AT’s adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, and in doing so introduces new technology to the site.

New Penske Dealer

Penske Commercial Vehicles has announced the appointment of Penske Power Systems as Brisbane dealer. Located in Wacol, Penske Power Systems will provide the services previously provided by Penske Commercial Vehicles’ Brisbane Truck Centre, as the exclusive retail sales, service and parts dealer in Brisbane, responsible for Western Star Trucks, MAN and Dennis Eagle.

“We have seen the successful transition of dealerships to Penske Power Systems across several locations over the last eight months,” said Kevin Dennis, Managing Director of Penske Commercial Vehicles. “The sixth location to be appointed as a sales dealership, Penske Power Systems in Wacol has a reputation for providing excellent service to its customer base.

“This transition will allow us to leverage the broad Penske Power Systems network and streamline operations, providing customers with the same outstanding service delivered by Penske Power Systems in Mackay, Townsville, Darwin, Cairns, Perth and Sydney.”

Autonomous Trucks need infrastructure

Kings Transport and Logistics CEO, Tony Mellick, expects that autonomous trucks will become the norm rather than the exception, particularly for single pickup and delivery runs.

“I think the application in long-distance movement of freight by autonomous trucks is sound,” said Mellick. “Having the ability to send out 200 tonnes of freight rather than 20-34 tonnes by platooning three or more trucks, is a cost-effective way of moving freight. It’s safer because it removes fatigue from the risk matrix and, given the constraints of the current labour market, would be a welcome solution for most long-distance service providers.”

Mellick says that while new vehicle technologies are certainly heading in the direction of connected autonomy, it is less clear how soon Australia will have the infrastructure to support driverless trucks on our highways.

“All this is reliant on investment by governments to build the infrastructure into the highways and roads to facilitate it,” said Mellick. “My understanding is that for autonomous trucks to be viable, there need to be sensors, monitors and technology embedded along the road to keep the truck from straying out of the lanes, for instance. Apart from Eastlink in Melbourne, I’m not aware of any infrastructure enabling the commercialisation of autonomous trucks in Australia.”