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."
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