— the latest gear, rigs and test drives
The Expo, New Zealand’s truck and heavy equipment event held every four years, had a few surprises plus a couple of previews of what’s to come for the Australian market.
IF THE BRISBANE Truck Show is the largest trucking event in the Australasia region, New Zealand’s premier transport and heavy equipment showcase, known simply as The Expo, could easily rank as number two.
Held every four years at the picturesque valley setting of the Mystery Creek Events Centre, The Expo is unique in many ways.
It not only showcases the latest in road transport equipment, but it also attracts a large number of enthusiasts, displaying a large collection of classic and vintage trucks, as well as a show and shine competition on The Expo’s final day.
This year’s event took place over three days from March 2 to 4, with most major truck manufacturers having a presence, the Volvo Group and Hino being notable exceptions.
What was surprising was the appearance of Penske Commercial Vehicles, which has decided to opt out of this year’s Brisbane Truck Show. Penske had a couple of new MAN TGX D38s on show in the big Mystery Creek pavilion, as well two flashy customer-bound Western Stars.
Freightliner opted for the Kiwi ‘all black’ look for its Argosy, Coronado and CST112, while a striking blue was the colour for stable mate Mercedes-Benz’s new range of Arocs and Actros models.
Paccar occupied the western end of the pavilion with a fairly extensive range, including the new T610 Kenworth, two of which were already in the colours of their new owners. The fleet of South Island outfit Dynes Transport is predominantly Kenworth, so it’s no surprise that it was one of the first in the queue for the new T610.
Adding to Paccar’s armoury, it also had the new DAF CF 510hp in tipper formation, destined to join the fleet of McCafferty Metal Carriers in Gisborne.
At the pavilion’s opposite end, Isuzu had a fairly extensive range on show, including a 460hp tipper and 530hp prime mover, while boasting its position as “New Zealand’s favourite truck for 17 years”.
“Most of the customers are lining it with the Euro brands rather than the Asian brands”
However, tucked away in the pavilion’s side annexe, Hyundai was causing a stir with its newly arrived 6x4 Xcient P520 prime mover, dwarfing the light-duty Mighty trucks on its stand.
The Xcient arrived in Australia at the end of 2016, but The Expo was the Korean manufacturer’s first opportunity to unveil the 520hp show unit before the general public ‘down under’. It was a close call, however, with the Xcient arriving in New Zealand just two weeks before The Expo, although Kiwi Hyundai dealer Central Group had managed to take it for a quick run south to garner feedback from its South Island dealerships.
Hyundai is making no bones about where it’s heading with the Xcient – and that’s being strong competition to the European cab-overs.
One of the Hyundai personnel on the stand, who preferred to remain anonymous, he says the new P520 with its 2500Nm of torque has “really good highway capability” while upcoming variants could include a long wheelbase unit for local pallet deliveries.
“Over time we would move into a full-blown tipper configuration,” he says.
The unnamed source says initial feedback has been “very good”.
“Most of the customers are lining it with the Euro brands rather than the Asian brands. They’ll be making comparisons to DAF and Iveco and those sorts of trucks, not like Hino and UD,” he says.
“The truck itself is very different to those. You’ve got air suspension all round; you’ve got scales in the rear air bags, 6-wheel disc brakes, power splitters, cross diff locks, air-suspended cabs, air suspension, and a huge lot of features and options in the cab.
“There’s a large bed up there, a fridge in the cab, and lots of storage,” he says.
Over on the Iveco stand, it was somewhat of a relaunch for its range in New Zealand, with the brand enjoying a 62 per cent rise in sales in 2016 plus an increase in market share.
New Zealand country manager Ian Walker was buoyant about the new products on show, namely the Trakker 6x4, the 7-tonne Euro 6 Daily van, and the 2016 International Truck of the Year: the Euro 6 Eurocargo.
England-born Walker, a former long-term Freightliner regional sales manager across three continents, says the Eurocargo arrived only days before The Expo’s opening day. “It was close to the wire,” he says. Walker says the Eurocargo comes equipped with the latest safety packages, including the anti-skid braking system (ABS) and lane departure warning, plus new interior and exterior designs, increased fuel efficiency and increased service intervals. It also features anti-slip regulator (ASR), electronic stability program (ESP), and advanced emerging braking system (AEBS).
According to Walker, the new Daily is the only 7-tonne-rated integral van on the market.
“It’s available from 7.6 cubic metres right up to the maximum of 20 cubic metres.”
The new Daily and Eurocargo models will be on show at the Brisbane Truck Show in May, although the 6x4 Trakker is unlikely to make an appearance, being confined to the New Zealand market.
Iveco had two stands at The Expo, one inside the pavilion and the other bathed in bright sunshine outside. Whether by accident or not, its external stand had New Zealand company Intertruck promoting its range of International Trucks as a near neighbour.
Despite the presence of the new Prostar and Lonestar models, pride of place on the International display went to its New Zealand-assembled range of cab-over models.
More curious from Australia’s point of view was the Sinotruk stand with its range of Chinesebuilt Euro 5 trucks from the China National Heavy Duty Truck Group Company (CNHTC).
Whether CNHTC has a go at cracking the Australian truck market remains to be seen, but it certainly added a slice of intrigue to The Expo.
Penske Commercial Vehicles were not ‘show shy’ in New Zealand
A customer-bound Western Star
Volvo had an unofficial presence at The Expo with this FH600 tanker
It was ‘all black’ on the Freightliner stand