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An International Comeback in Australia

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Diesel News AU  /  June 2017

It is fair to say International has had a chequered history in Australia for the past thirty years or so. However, this year it is all back on track with the launch of the new Prostar trucks. Back in the nineties, two brands dominated the truck market at the heavier end – Ford and International. However stability was lost back then, when the International Harvester company went into administration and then managed to trade its way out of the situation.

This left International Trucks as an independent standalone brand, which was taken over by Iveco in Australia in the 1990s. The company was still a big player in the market and models like the ubiquitous S-Line still predominated, alongside the long-lasting Acco.

Then the International brand seemed to fade away as it merged into Iveco. At the same time, the International Trucks global owner, Navistar, was concentrating on its core market in North America, a famously cyclical market.

A few years later, International was back in Australia in a deal between Iveco and Navistar. International Eagle 7900 models along with 7800s and, later, 7600s were assembled in Dandenong in Victoria and kept the brand alive for another few years.

Financial woes for Navistar in the US saw the company walk away from its overseas commitments to concentrate on simply surviving as a financially sound entity. After a number of close calls, the new Navistar came out leaner and meaner and got back into a strong position in the US market, competing on an equal footing with Freightliner, Kenworth et al.

One of the strong points in the Navistar revival was the ProStar model which has been highly successful on the US market as its aerodynamic fuel saving appealed to the US truck buyer. We saw this model appear as the Cat prime mover in Australia, over five years ago, only to fade away from the market over the following few years.

Well, now its back, this time as an International ProStar, and as part of the offering from Iveco to the Australian truck market. Existing Iveco dealers, and some others, are lining up to put examples of the new trucks in their showrooms and give the International brand a chance to re-emerge onto the Australian truck market with some presence and credibility.

It’s two years since the intention of International to return to Australia was announced with a major stand at the Brisbane Truck Show displaying both the ProStar and the iconic and eye-catching LoneStar.

The negotiating process between Navistar in Chicago and CNH, the owner of the Iveco, in Australia, was a long and involved one. Both are major global companies, who have a history of good, and not so good, deals between them. It has taken nearly two years for the stars to align, and now we have the two organisations working together to launch the new trucks in Australia.

The re-entry of International looks like being a relatively low key one. The truck models available in the first offering are a modest four in number and the number of options available to buyers are minimal.

This is clearly intended as a first step in the door, aimed at specific market segments. Once established the International Truck team will be able to look at the next stage, introducing further options and, perhaps, other models.

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Where to Now for International in Australia?

Diesel News AU  /  June 2017

With the reintroduction of the International brand, it probably time to ask the question, where to now for International? The first models unveiled this year are variations on the ProStar models.

Let’s assume the ProStar hits the spot for International, the brand is welcomed back into the open arms of Australian truck buyers and proves to be an effective addition to the offering for the Iveco brands and its dealers. Of course, this is by no means a foregone conclusion, but it is also feasible. International does still have a loyal fan base among the trucking community, the brand remains strong.

If this scenario does play out, the timing looks good; the heavy-duty truck market seems to be on a steady rise, International will look to expand the range over a series of steps. This would give Iveco/International dealers an opportunity to stock a full offering to market with both European and North American options.

First up will probably be an extension to the ProStar range itself. An increased engine rating choice would be one area operators will look for. As will more choice in front and rear axles and suspension options. Along with this might come different GCM ratings, which are currently capped at 90 tonnes (with up to 110 available upon application).

What about a smaller, lighter engine? The ProStar in the US has just begun to be offered with the International A26 engine. This is the latest iteration of the 13-litre, derived from the MAN D26 and a result of the increased co-operation and financial stake Volkswagen is taking in Navistar. This is a high-tech torquey engine which will perform well for ProStars running at lower masses.

For the US market, International does offer a substantial range. The ProStar we are getting is a mixture of three US models. The ProStar is the basic platform, but we are getting the shorter bonnet from the Transtar and the bigger sleeper cab is more like the HX series long-distance hauler. All of which do come with the 13-litre A26 engine, at least as an option.

Looking at heavier trucks, International has the LoneStar and the 9900 available in the US. The LoneStar is the truck many truckies here in Australia will aspire to drive. It has the aggressive grille and big cab, plus the Cummins X15 under the big long bonnet. It genuinely looks the business.

Those aspiring truckies are likely to be disappointed. As it stands, the LoneStar could not be imported into Australia, it is too wide. It is very much a left-hand-drive truck and has been designed as such.

The kind of engineering and development work required to reshape the truck into something which is legal and durable enough for Australia is going to be expensive and take some time. The potential sales numbers the truck would generate are likely to be relatively low – it is not a fleet truck and most owner drivers are looking for a practical, not a show, truck.

The other heavy, the 9900, is a more traditional truck, it was assembled and sold here as the Eagle. There are still quite a few who would jump at the chance of owning a new 9900. However, again, the kind of development dollars needed compared to potential sales make it a non-goer.

Looking down the range, there are some more practical possibilities. The most obvious one is the HX Series, a vocational truck sold into rigid tipper and similar applications. It is described in the US as being a ‘severe duty’ truck, but would probably need some beefing up to meet our demanding conditions. It can be fitted with the X15 and the A26, both of which would suit the kind of work it would need to do here.

The smaller tipper chassis is the WorkStar, with a similar shape to the 9700 models sold in Australia over ten years ago. The biggest engine this can fit is the 13-litre but the age of its design may well count against it, when considering adapting it to Australia.

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New Models From International Australia

Diesel News AU  /  July 2017

This year will see the introduction of a number of new models from International. There are four basic models in the new ProStar range arriving on the Australian truck market – a day-cab prime mover, a day-cab tipper chassis, an extended cab sleeper and a 40-inch sleeper-cab prime mover option.

All of these will have just one engine option – the Cummins X15, the renamed evolution of the highly successful E5 ISX. It will be rated at 550hp (410kW) and put out 2,580Nm (1850 ft lb) of torque. This is probably the most popular engine and rating in the Australian heavy-duty market. So no surprises there.

As you look down the specification list, the names that come up are all very familiar – this is a range aimed at the heart of the Aussie truck market. Hendrickson Primaax rear suspension, Meritors, front and rear, Roadranger or Ultrashift, Sheppard steering, Horton fan and many more would all appear on the favoured option list for most of the North American brands in Australia.

Choosing the Ultrashift Plus option on the gearbox will introduce the opportunity to utilise the ADEPT system, a cooperative electronic linking of Eaton transmission and Cummins engine to maximise performance and minimise fuel use, which is proving a popular fuel-saving choice for a number of operators.

Inside the cabin will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time looking around the Cat models on offer. However, there have been some improvements on the interior layout integrated into the new ProStar. One is the improved space for the driver’s left foot, often an issue for US-made trucks. The engine cover has been reshaped and the left foot has a resting pad just to the left of the clutch.

These two global players have given themselves a chance with these new models. Navistar seeks to gain from opening up another truck market for its plant at Escobedo in Monterrey, Mexico at the same time as, if Trump has his way, importing into the US from south of the border may become less attractive.

For Iveco in Australia, this is a chance for the company and its dealer network to get themselves back on track as a serious player in the truck market. The ongoing success of the Acco has papered over a few cracks in the Iveco organisation. The introduction of a real North American truck into the mix may give Iveco a chance to consolidate and not be quite so reliant on one ageing vocational model.

The $64,000 question is whether the truck buyers of Australia will take to this newcomer. The strength of the International brand is not to be underestimated. The trucking industry has a long memory and a lot of people made a lot of money running Inters in the past, and may well want to do so in the future.

The true test will be when there are bums in seats where the driving experience and overall performance can be assessed in a real world setting. Look out for a drive test report in an upcoming Diesel Magazine.

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Iveco reveals International dealer network

Prime Mover Magazine  /  July 13, 2017

Iveco Australia has revealed the first group of dealerships that will oversee the sales, service and parts support for the newly launched International ProStar truck range in Australia.

Initial appointments are all Iveco dealers and authorised Cummins service outlets, including Sydney Iveco, Thomas Bros and Blacklock’s in New South Wales, Brisbane Iveco and Wideland Trucks and Equipment Group in Queensland, Adelaide Iveco in South Australia, Smith Trucks in Victoria, and AV Truck Services in Perth, Western Australia.

According to Iveco, further retail outlets will be appointed in all states of Australia along with Parts and Service-only branches, to provide a broader support network for the International brand.

Iveco Australia Dealer Channel Director, Geoff Buswell, said the company was selective in its appointments to ensure all accredited dealers were qualified to service and support the International brand.

“In re-launching the iconic International brand back into the Australian market, we have been fortunate to have access to our existing Iveco network across Australia,” Buswell said.

“Many of the new dealerships have had a long history with International, having previously sold and serviced the range when it was last available in Australia. In fact many Dealers still offer support for previous generation International products.

“Another benefit of appointing existing Iveco dealers is that they already have a thorough knowledge and understanding of much of the ProStar’s componentry by virtue of several existing Iveco models featuring Cummins, Hendrickson, Eaton and Meritor equipment.

“We are extremely pleased with our initial appointments and we are in the process of adding to these Dealers in the coming days and weeks. We will provide a complete dealer network as representation for all prospective ProStar buyers in metropolitan and rural areas.”

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Stage one INTERNATIONAL® Dealer Network announced

IVECO Australia Press Release  /  July 13, 2017

IVECO Australia has announced its first Dealerships that will oversee the sales, service and parts support for the INTERNATIONAL® ProStar® truck range in Australia.

Initial appointments are all current IVECO Dealers as well as authorised Cummins service outlets, providing greater convenience to fleets and owners who choose to operate both brands.

Dealer appointments to date include Sydney IVECO, Thomas Bros and Blacklock’s in New South Wales, Brisbane IVECO and Wideland Trucks and Equipment group in Queensland, Adelaide IVECO in South Australia, Smith Trucks in Victoria and AV Truck Services in Perth, Western Australia.

Further retail outlets will be appointed in all states of Australia along with Parts and Service only branches to provide a broader support network for the INTERNATIONAL® brand.

IVECO Australia Dealer Channel Director, Geoff Buswell, said the company had been selective in its appointments to ensure all accredited Dealers were the best qualified to service and support the iconic INTERNATIONAL® brand.

“In re-launching the iconic INTERNATIONAL® brand back into the Australian market, we have been fortunate to have access to our existing IVECO network across Australia,” Mr Buswell said.

“Many of the new Dealerships have had a long history with INTERNATIONAL® having previously sold and serviced the range when it was last available in Australia. In fact many Dealers still offer support for previous generation INTERNATIONAL® products.

“Another benefit of appointing existing IVECO Dealers is that they already have a thorough knowledge and understanding of much of the ProStar’s componentry by virtue of several existing IVECO models featuring Cummins, Hendrickson, Eaton and Meritor equipment.

“We are extremely pleased with our initial appointments and we are in the process of adding to these Dealers in the coming days and weeks. We will provide a complete Dealer Network as representation for all prospective ProStar® buyers in metropolitan and rural areas.”

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