Truck Assist | Small Business Corner
You may not have the capital, networks or know-how to pull together all of the professional resources and advice you need from day one, so we’re here to help you with a couple of handy weblinks and apps that may point you in the right direction while you find your way.
If you’re interested in stories and learning from other small business owners, or bits of advice from those in the know, here are a few websites and blogs that may be of interest to you:
Got a web site you’d like to share?
Let us know in the comments section of any tried & tested resources to help out fellow small business owners.
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Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
There was a time not so many years ago when the Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS) was a world-class event, showcasing all that was hot and happening in the North American truck business.
Just as you’d head to Hannover in Germany to see the latest trends and technology in Europe, or to the Tokyo Motor Show to see Japan’s best and brightest, historically you’d head to Mid-America in Louisville, Kentucky, to catch up on America’s newest load haulin’ hardware. Not anymore!
Call me biased, but judging by what was on show in Louisville this year, I’d now rate our own biennial Brisbane Truck Show as far more informative and professional than its US counterpart.
Nowadays, MATS has strong competition from rival events and with ever-watchful eyes on the corporate wallet, America’s truck, trailer and component brands are no longer automatic starters when it comes to signing up for a truck show, anywhere.
It appears to be a case of each event measured on its merits of appealing to dedicated markets.
Among the big brands, only Mack and Paccar’s Peterbilt and Kenworth travelled to Mid-America again this year, largely capturing the new truck side of the event to themselves. As it turned out, that was a particularly good thing for Mack, intent on letting everyone know its new Anthem with a stand-up cab and sleeper is aimed squarely at bring the bulldog back to some prominence in the North American line-haul business.
For a handful of Australian visitors, it also meant we could, for the first time, get up close and personal with a rejuvenated bulldog eventually headed for our part of the world – but more on that in an upcoming feature story.
Other than Mack and Paccar, though, Louisville was slim pickings indeed for new trucks from the big boys of the business. No Freightliner, or its corporate cousins Detroit and Western Star. No International other than a very lonely Lonestar courtesy of the local Louisville dealer. No Volvo, highlighting the fact that in the US, Mack and Volvo definitely go their separate ways. No Japanese truck brands despite an ever-increasing presence in the US. And of course, no Cat.
As for new technology, only the Shell ‘Starship’ truck and trailer concept went some way towards showcasing the efficiency merits of advanced aerodynamic design. What’s more, and despite the fact that most major US truck brands are now digging deep into advanced technologies such as autonomous trucks, the only indication of autonomous behaviour at Mid-America appeared to be the public rush to anything labelled ‘free’.
Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, there was absolutely nothing from Tesla about electric trucks and, likewise, zilch rom Cummins about its similarly fast-paced push into electric propulsion. I didn’t see it, but an Australian product manager wandering around MATS told me the only electric vehicle he saw was a battery-driven go-kart tucked away on the small nondescript stand of a research outfit.
By comparison, the Tokyo Motor Show late last year was awash with electric technology, led by Daimler’s Fuso with the launch of its dedicated electric brand E-Fuso, and a highly advanced prototype model called Vision One.
Still, truckin’ in America isn’t all about new-fangled gadgets and gizmos. Never has been, and while MATS lacked plenty in big-brand presentation, it at least had enough of the new and the novel, the old and the bold, the long and the lavish to satisfy lovers of classic Yank trucks and keep the good ol’ guys ‘n’ gals mildly entertained.
Anyway, check out our gallery above for a pictorial summary of Mid-America 2018, a show with a touch of everything but on the other hand, not much of anything.
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
Hino Australia says its 300 Series 4x4 is finding success in an unexpected market – with farmers and foresters showing "considerable interest" in the vehicles.
ATN reviewed the off-roader in February following its launch late last year, with technical editor Steve Brooks saying the vehicle had helped inspire "a level of excitement and confidence within the Hino camp".
Six months after it was launched for sale in Australia, Hino says the 4x4 is surpassing its targets and proving it was worth the wait.
Hino Australia general manager of brand and franchise development Bill Gillespie says the versatility and capabilities of the truck have afforded Hino new areas of opportunity.
"In terms of trucks delivered, we have captured almost 20 per cent of the light duty 4x4 market in only six months, a result we are proud of but not surprised by," Gillespie says.
"The real story is in our customer order intake – at the end of April, we increased our orders by 71per cent on our April year to date target."
While the company had expected the model to do well with mining, rental and emergency services markets, Gillespie said regional dealerships had also seen strong sales, to farmers attracted by its 7,500kg gross vehicle mass and 4x4 capabilities.
"This 4x4 segment of the light duty truck market is expected to finish between 800 and 900 units at the end of 2018, which is an increase of over 33 per cent from 2017," Gillespie says.
"Market interest and customer orders of the 300 Series 4x4 have been so strong that we have accelerated our forecasts for the next two calendar years significantly to meet market opportunities."
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
Get ready for the most comprehensive-ever evaluation of all the popular utes on sale in Australia!
Bauer Media’s Transport and Machinery titles, in conjunction with Australia’s leading 4WD magazine, 4x4 Australia, and Australia’s leading car magazine, Wheels, has gathered together all of the popular utes for a week-long knockout to find out just what is Australia’s best ute overall.
Ford Ranger: Big and brawny and Australia’s most popular 4WD ute in 2017
Holden Colorado: 500Nm of torque can’t be wrong! That’s more than Ranger.
Isuzu D-Max: Much loved thanks to its service simplicity and reliability. The mechanic’s favourite.
Mazda BT-50: Shares much with the Ford Ranger including a 3.2-litre five-cylinder engine but generally cheaper to buy.
Mitsubishi Triton: Smaller than most competitor utes but Australia’s cheapest mainstream ute and third-best selling 4WD ute overall.
Mercedes Benz X-Class: The new ute on the block based on the Nissan Navara. This is its first outing.
Nissan Navara: Its coil sprung rear suspension has been revised after earlier load-carrying shortfalls.
Toyota Hilux: Australia’s most popular ute (and has been for years) if you add 2WD sales to its 4WD sales.
Volkswagen Amarok V6: Powerhouse V6 diesel pumps a mighty 180kW, all kept under control by full-time 4WD.
Over a gruelling five days at the Melbourne 4×4 Training and Proving Ground at Werribee near Melbourne, all of the utes will undergo a series of test to determine the winner. The tests include:
No fewer than seven judges, some with many decades of vehicle-testing experience, will conduct and oversee the tests.
Our judges include Cobey Bartels from Owner Driver, Fraser Stronach, Matt Raudonikis and Justin Walker from 4x4 Australia and Ash Westerman, Byron Mathioudakis and Daniel Gardner from Wheels.
Full results will be published both online as well as in special editions of ATN (#382 – on sale July 24), Deals on Wheels (#329 – on sale July 9), Owner Driver (#306 – on sale July 9), Earthmovers & Excavators (#348 – on sale July 23), Farms & Farm Machinery (#361 – on sale July 19), 4x4 Australia (on sale July 19) and Wheels (on sale July 12).
In the meantime, check Facebook to keep up with the action direct from this week’s shootout!
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
Two months after spruiking the Australian input into the updated Toyota HiLux, more details, including pricing, have emerged.
Now officially launched, the 4x4 double cab Rugged X, Rogue and Rugged models come at a time when the higher-spec end of the market has become more crowded, witht eh likes of Mercedes-Benz entering the fray, and budget makes are looking to step up from the basic.
"These three new HiLux heroes give customers a bold new choice in the market whether they are looking for a stylish and refined top-end ute for work and play or need enhanced protection, functionality and recovery capability for serious off-roading," Toyota Australia's vice president sales and marketing Sean Hanley says.
"We know that the average HiLux customer already spends over $2,000 on accessories for their vehicles so we looked at what those needs were from both a capability and style perspective and developed a raft of new features for HiLux.
"Designed and developed over a three-year vehicle program, all the new components on these stunning HiLux models are fully integrated and engineered into the core vehicle and covered by the standard factory warranty.
"The Rugged X, Rogue and Rugged are not accessorised special editions, they are fully fledged new HiLux models that our customers demanded and we can be justifiably proud that they were designed and developed here in Australia."
As the new top-of-the-range HiLux, the fully equipped Rugged X is priced from $61,690 plus on-road and other costs — as are all figures mentioned — in manual guise and $63,690 as an automatic.
The automatic-only HiLux Rogue is priced from $61,690.
The HiLux SR-based Rugged offers superb value and is priced from $54,990 as a manual with the six-speed automatic option adding $2,000.
With its off-road focus, the Rugged X builds on the SR5 on which it is based with a host of protective, functional and recovery features.
At the front, the winch-compatible heavy-duty steel front bar with integrated bash plate, LED lightbar and driving lights provides effective off-road protection and, together with the new design grille, gives the Rugged X a striking and tough aesthetic.
Further protective and recovery features include a snorkel, purposeful side rock rails that are able to support a fully laden vehicle, front and rear recovery points and a new heavy-duty steel rear bar and integrated tow bar.
The rear tub of the Rugged X has also been designed for functionality with a new steel sports bar that can support a vertical load of 75kg and, with multiple tie down points, secure up to 200kg on the floor of the tub.
Inside, it features leather-accented seats, a new design instrument cluster, metallic black ornamentation and black headlining.
The Rogue has been designed with a more urban adventurer customer in mind and features "redesigned front and rear ends that reflect Toyota's global truck design DNA".
Designed in Australia and developed in conjunction with the Toyota engineering team in Thailand, it will be sold in markets globally.
"The new more vertical front end and outboard driving lights give the vehicle a strong assertive appearance that is complemented by clean lines and a neat rear bumper — all with a contemporary black and grey colour palette," Toyota says.
The tub also gains the same practical and stylish sports bar as all the new HiLux models along with a bespoke hard tonneau cover for added protection and security.
As a premium model, the Rogue also gains the same interior features and trim as the Rugged X.
The Rugged model is based on the HiLux SR and is aimed at customers who want the extra functionality and features of the Rugged X but with the protection offered by a traditional steel bullbar.
Like the Rugged X, the Rugged also features a snorkel, redesigned grille, side rock rails, sports bar and heavy-duty steel rear bar together recovery points.
All three new HiLux models share the same mechanical specifications as the SR5 or SR models on which they are based and are powered by a proven, strong and efficient 2.8-litre turbo-diesel engine.
Driving through a part-time, shift-on-the-fly 4x4 system with a full set of low-range ratios, the engine generates maximum power of 130kW and 450Nm of torque with the optional six-speed automatic transmission or 420Nm when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox.
Truck Assist | Small Business Corner
Small businesses can now refer to a new website set up by the Fair Work Ombudsman to answer some of the most pressing questions on their workplace obligations.
The Small Business Showcase aims to make all the information and resources a small business could need available in the one place – covering topics as diverse as hiring employees and calculating their pay, to resolving workplace issues.
Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James is urging small business owners to participate in the showcase to ensure they’re up-to-date with their obligations under workplace law.
"Our Small Business Showcase is a great opportunity for small businesses to brush up on their workplace relations knowledge, download practical resources and find out more about the assistance the agency can provide," James says.
"Our experience, backed up by research, is that small businesses can be overconfident when it comes to compliance – failing to check the rules to ensure they’ve got things right."
The Ombudsman’s push comes after changes were made to the Fair Work Act last year, doubling the maximum penalty for failing to keep employee records or issue pay slips to $63,000 for a company and $12,600 for an individual.
The changes also tripled the maximum penalty for knowingly making or keeping false or misleading employee records to $12,600 for an individual.
James says the ombudsman expects employers to have checked the rules that apply to them – adding that it needed them to promptly rectify any errors when problems arise.
"Small errors arising from issues such as not passing on the annual wage increase or incorrectly classifying workers can add up to big underpayments over time – which can make for expensive and unexpected back-payment bills down the track," James says.
"What we want to do now is make it even easier for small businesses to access the information they need to implement positive workplace practices and help their business succeed at any time of the day."
The showcase includes six instructional videos demonstrating how small business owners can use Fair Work Ombudsman resources to meet their obligations as an employer.
It also has a series of opinion polls and surveys running throughout the showcase that will provide small business owners with the opportunity to share insights and highlight the key workplace issues facing small businesses today.
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
Within the next two years, Mack will launch a new model in Australia.
It will be the Mack Anthem, a model launched in the US in the back half of 2017 and now in production at Mack’s vastly upgraded Lehigh Valley facility in Pennsylvania.
In the US, Mack executives make no secret of the fact that Anthem is the spearhead of a determined bid to reinstate the bulldog’s presence in the premium North American interstate market.
For many years up to the mid-70s or thereabouts, Mack was a dominant force in the US linehaul business but today, that presence has been whittled to less than two percent.
Senior Mack executives are under no illusions about the difficulty of the task ahead and at this point, goals are modest. However, the unequivocal intention is to get to double digits, sooner rather than later.
Key to Anthem’s prospects in North America is a stand-up cab with a superbly equipped 70-inch sleeper.
Righthand-drive Australian models will, of course, be built at the Volvo Group factory in Wacol, Brisbane, but only after a long and detailed testing program to ensure the reconfigured cab will withstand Australian operating conditions.
There’s no reason it won’t come through with flying colours. After all, the Anthem cab employs much the same steel shell which has been serving Mack faithfully and reliably for many years in many parts of the world.
Wisely though, Mack’s local leaders won’t be taking any chances. There’s simply too much at stake in such a demanding and unforgiving market as Australia.
Still, Anthem provides something Mack has wanted and invariably needed in this country for a long time and that, obviously enough, is a stand-up cab.
In its complete form, Anthem will be a direct replacement for the current Granite model.
However, Anthem will do far more than simply replace an existing model.
For starters, the completely redesigned interior layout and high-roof design will be transplanted into Trident, Super-Liner and Titan models. Only the shorthaul Metro-Liner misses out.
The excitement and passion within Mack ranks both here and in the US is almost palpable, and easily understood given the long wait for a development such as this.
Our technical editor Steve Brooks was recently a guest of Mack in the US and on a cold, snowy test track in Pennsylvania, was given the opportunity to climb behind the wheel of a day cab and low-rise sleeper version of the new Anthem.
It’s early days, but equally, early impressions were hugely positive.
The look is decidedly different but then again, so is Anthem.
A detailed feature story will soon appear but in the meantime, here’s a little footage of a new dog with new tricks.
Read more on the Mack Anthem in the May edition of ATN.
Copyright 2017 NTI Limited
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