FIAT’S baby Panda has been turned into a fearsome monster truck. A sighting of the extreme machine created quite a buzz last week, but it turned out to be a one-off. Fiat had the unique truck built for a TV commercial that dramatises the off-road ability of the new all-wheel-drive Panda. It is a fully functional vehicle that consists of a Panda body bolted on to a Jeep Wrangler chassis, then fitted out with special axles and those huge earthmover wheels. OPPOSITION leader Tony Abbott has used his new truck licence for the first time, getting behind the wheel of a semi to highlight his plan to upgrade the Pacific Highway. He already had a medium rigid licence o drive a compact truck for a local CFA brigade but this year gained his heavy combination licence. He drove a Nolan’s truck from Brisbane to Terrigal, with help from an employee in the passenger seat. He said that too much of the Pacific Highway is a ‘‘goat track from the 1970s’’ and pledged $5.6 billion to duplicate it. AUSTRALIANS are buying about 10 per cent more trucks than this time last year. Figures provided by the Truck Industry Council, representing manufacturers, show that truck sales to the end of November are up by 11.2 per cent on the same period last year. To the end of November, there were 24,706 new trucks registered. Isuzu is still the No.1 brand, with sales up 11.2 per cent. Kenworth is having a cracking year. Its sales are up by 35.6 per cent and it is still the clear leader when it comes to heavy-duty trucks. IVECO Australia has finally upgraded its website. The local arm of the Italian brand has launched its new site, with the latest product including images and up to date spec sheets. There is also detailed information about Iveco and history of the Australian operation, which was formed when International Harvester collapsed. Iveco says it paid particular attention to the Dealer Locator function, which allows operators to quickly find the nearest dealer in a hurry when they require parts and/or servicing. View iveco.com.au. MITSUBISHI Fuso and Nissan are Japanese rivals, but that won’t stop them from working together and sharing a truck. Nissan will soon sell a version of a Mitsubishi Fuso Canter, with its own badge and a different name. While the Fuso model is called the Canter Guts (seriously, that is the official title), the Nissan will be given the more sensible name of Atlas 24. At this stage, the badge sharing agreement is only for Japan. THE world’s No.2 truck maker is winding back production as the European economic slump continues. Volvo will reduce the amount of trucks it makes at its plant in Gothenburg, Sweden, from the end of the year. Current daily production of 100 trucks will be pared back to 75 by the end of the year, Bloomberg reports, by cutting the evening shift. Volvo hopes to reinstate the shift as soon as truck sales recover. DON’T assume your new truck will come with a CD player. Once deemed a luxury item, the compact disc player is about to be ditched from head units of some new models. Working Wheels understands Isuzu is planning to do away with CDs as it moves forward with audio systems incorporating music hard drives, connections for music devices and DAB+ digital radios. Truck makers are not alone in moving away from CD players — Peugeot has just introduced a 208 hatch in Europe without one.