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.
For more industry news, insights, events, and a place to chat about the things that matter to you, join us at the Truck Assist Club.
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.
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
There’s a brawl brewing at the big end of the cab-over truck business as Mercedes-Benz and Scania shape up to rattle Volvo’s reign as Australia’s top-selling European brand. They’ll have their work cut out but you can bet they won’t be pulling any punches.
Last year, Mercedes-Benz and Scania together delivered 1816 units to Australia’s heavy-duty truck market.
By comparison, Volvo alone left both in its wake with a commanding 1845 trucks, easily maintaining the Swedish giant’s mantle as Australia’s leading supplier of cab-overs to the heavy-duty market.
Nonetheless, both Benz and ‘the other Swede’ are rightly pleased with their respective results in 2017. And fair enough!
For Scania, it was a record year, cracking the 1000 units barrier (1004 to be exact) for the first time in its Australian history and in the process, capping the steady growth which over the past four or five years has seen the brand emerge from mediocrity into a swathe of new operations.
As for Mercedes-Benz, 2017 was the first year with the bulk of its entirely new model range on sale and no doubt about it, Benz boffins were absolutely delighted with the delivery of 813 trucks. So they should be, given the result was close to double the previous year’s performance with the superseded Actros.
Yet anyone thinking Mercedes-Benz or Scania will be content to rest on the laurels of 2017, or simply strive to repeat last year’s performance will need to think again. With the energy and excitement of entirely new models fuelling their futures, neither company is hiding a fierce intention to make the most of a buoyant heavy-duty market where across the board, cab-overs now outsell conventionals by around two to one.
Still, aspirations and reality aren’t always cut from the same cloth and both brands know as well as any that in a fiercely competitive heavy-duty market dominated by such powerful adversaries as Volvo and Kenworth, it’ll take much more than the hype of a new range of trucks to climb to higher rungs on the ladder.
Even so, square in the crosshairs of both Mercedes-Benz and Scania is Volvo, and for good reason. Sure, neither Benz nor Scania will be shy about approaching Kenworth K200 customers but when it comes to continental cab-overs, there’s no bigger or more commercially attractive target than the super-Swede.
By the same measure though, it would be ridiculously naïve and incredibly ignorant to think Volvo will be quaking in its boots or washing the white flag at the threat of increased competition from aspiring assailants.
Indeed, you can take it as gospel that Volvo didn’t reach its current prominence by adopting a casual or lackadaisical approach to competitors. Be in no doubt, any assault on the throne will be met with the ruthless response of a company with an exceptionally successful and locally produced model range, a substantially upgraded service network, and decades of fierce determination.
Likewise, only the foolish would think Volvo isn’t also working on a few new product developments of its own, not least a bigger bunk for the flagship FH range.
All that said though, Benz and Scania are busy sharpening the axes and after recent road tests of B-double combinations from both brands, there’s no doubt the cutting edge is sharper than ever before.
As our technical editor Steve Brooks reveals, the trucks in the recent spotlight were the Mercedes-Benz 2653 and from Scania, the G500 and R620 models from its newly introduced ‘New Truck Generation’.
All combinations were loaded near to full weight with the Benz run northbound on the Hume between Melbourne and Sydney, and little more than a week later, the two Scanias run from Sydney to Melbourne.
Given the different directions, performance and fuel comparisons wouldn’t be much value, so each has been evaluated on its own merits on the day. The one thing they share, however, is the ability to be more competitive than at any time in their modern histories in this country.
Yes, they admit it won’t be easy knocking Volvo off its mantle as the best-selling European truck in the Australian market, and likewise, they concede it won’t happen overnight. They will, however, be giving it their best shot and more to the point, the new trucks provide plenty of firepower.
All up, the next few years will be fascinating to watch and as things stand at the moment, the only sure bet is that heavy-duty truck operators of all persuasions will be spoilt for choice with trucks which, from all appearances, are smarter, stronger, more efficient, more comfortable, better built, and possibly more reliable and better supported than ever before.
Bring it on!
Truck Assist | Know Your Truck
Truck sales are reaching highs not seen in the past 10 years, representatives of the Truck Industry Council (TIC) have said, but some brands have become markedly more popular in the interim.
Earlier this month, the TIC said first quarter new truck and van sales in 2018 had reached 8,675, eclipsing the record set ten years earlier in 2008, when 8,267 new trucks and vans were delivered.
ATN has compiled data from the monthly reports, building combined first quarter reports from both years.
While it can be argued the data is an arbitrary sample – the results nonetheless show a significant boost in popularity for some, and a marked fall for others.
While Kenworth was the buying public’s favourite in both 2018 and 2008 heavy-duty truck sales, Western Star fell significantly, from 323 vehicles and second place in 2008 to 78 in the first quarter of this year – making it the 14th most popular brand according to TIC data.
Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz tripled in popularity, from 71 sold in 2008 to 218 in 2018, with Isuzu, Volvo and Scania sales also increasing significantly in the 10 year period.
Large falls were also seen in Freightliner, down from 226 to 104 sold in 2018, and International, down from 132 to 15. Sterling trucks were discontinued in 2009.
Other stand out differences were in the Medium Duty category, with a spike in sales for MAN – 242 in 2018 compared with 8 sold 10 years prior – and in Van sales, with Renault leapfrogging its competition to sell 341 in the first quarter of this year, up from 75 in 2008.
Check out the rest of the data in our graph below - starting with heavy duty trucks.
Copyright 2017 NTI Limited
Insurance products are provided by National Transport Insurance, a joint venture of the insurers Insurance Australia Limited trading as CGU Insurance ABN 11 000 016 722 AFSL 227681 and AAI Limited Trading as Vero Insurance ABN 48 005 297 807 AFSL 230859 each holding a 50% share. National Transport Insurance is administered on behalf of the insurers by its manager NTI Limited ABN 84 000 746 109 AFSL 237246.