Short hauls

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Working Wheels -

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 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.

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