Nice in a niche

The Euro 6 ver­sion of Iveco’s medium-duty Eurocargo brings an ad­vanced level of tech­ni­cal rene­ment to lo­cal and re­gional dis­tri­bu­tion work. But how will it fare against the Ja­panese jug­ger­naut?

Australian Transport News - - Contents - WORDS STEVE BROOKS

L et’s face it, when it comes to the lighter ends of the truck busi­ness, if you’re not Ja­panese, you’re just fight­ing for scraps. It’s a plain, in­con­testable fact. Ever since the Ja­panese first started assert­ing their strength in the mid- to late‘70s with trucks that were gen­er­ally well made, well priced and re­mark­ably re­li­able, any­thing from any­where else has had a hor­ren­dously hard time.

Go­ing way back, brands like Bed­ford, Dodge and Ley­land were prob­a­bly headed for ex­tinc­tion any­way, but there’s no ques­tion the Ja­panese on­slaught fast-tracked the trip to obliv­ion.

The big­gest scalp of all, how­ever, was In­ter­na­tional. Light- and medium-duty In­ters were once com­mon as cock­ies in this coun­try but, un­der a del­uge of dilem­mas, the seem­ingly in­domitable In­ter­na­tional Har­vester com­pany went into cor­po­rate col­lapse just as the Ja­panese were ramp­ing up the com­pet­i­tive crescendo. The dou­ble whammy was deadly.

True, In­ter­na­tional heavy-duty mod­els man­aged to hang on to some sem­blance of mar­ket strength for a while. Down the scale, though, the light- and medium-duty trucks, which were once a main­stay of metro and coun­try busi­nesses large and small, fell out of favour with spec­tac­u­lar speed as Ja­pan kept pound­ing away with trucks that sim­ply of­fered more.

Iron­i­cally, it was Iveco that came to save In­ter­na­tional from com­plete col­lapse and, today, with medium-duty spe­cial­ists like its lat­est Eurocargo sport­ing Euro 6 emis­sions com­pli­ance among a num­ber of tech­no­log­i­cal treats, it’s Iveco yearn­ing to fill any niche the Ja­panese may have missed.

Yet Iveco cer­tainly isn’t alone in its bid to of­fer the mar­ket some­thing out­side the Ja­panese square. Volvo, MAN, DAF and Mercedes-Benz have been toil­ing in the medium-duty mix for many years but, in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, the num­bers tell a tale of scant suc­cess for the Euro­pean brands. In the first half of this year, for in­stance, con­ti­nen­tal con­tenders ac­counted for a thread­bare 5.6 per cent of the to­tal medium-duty mar­ket. In other words, just 188 of the 3322 medium-duty trucks de­liv­ered to the Aus­tralian mar­ket up to the end of June bore a Euro­pean badge. Worse, those 188 trucks are split be­tween five brands, with Iveco notch­ing just 42 sales.

Even so, you have to ad­mire the de­ter­mi­na­tion. Of­fered along­side its Euro 5 coun­ter­part, the Euro 6 Eurocargo

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