In Actros, Freightliner, Kenworth, Iveco, Fuso, Events, Hyundai, August 202116 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineSeptember 19, 2021

It’s been two years since the last Brisbane Truck Show, which seems like an age. New Zealand Trucking returns to the Brisbane Convention Centre for the show after the stresses of a pandemic-affected 18 months.

This year’s Brisbane Truck Show was perfectly timed. Everybody in the trucking industry has been busy since March last year and frustrated by the inability to travel, apart from behind the steering wheel. The event was an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the industry and catch up on all the latest juicy gossip.

The Heavy Vehicle Industry Association got lucky withthe timing of the mid-May event. Small outbreaks of Covid-19 in other Australian states looked like they might scupper hopes of the event being a genuinely national – and international – show, but the outbreaks in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland were all short-lived and under control weeks before. The truck show also took place a few weeks before another Covid-19 outbreak from South Australia into Victoria and then on to Queensland, which would’ve caused problems for potential show-goers.

Iveco-cabbed Acco

A few brave souls also made it across the ditch from New Zealand, and all had a good time. The truck show is not a show for stuffed shirts; those attending enjoy themselves and get to speak to others about new equipment and services. It’s not all beer and parties, but there is a bit of that going on as well.

The show’s future had been in doubt right up until a couple of weeks before as several major manufacturers decided not to attend or display their product. Numbers one and two in the Australian truck market – Isuzu and Hino – couldn’t make it, neither could the three members of the Volvo Group – Volvo, Mack and UD Trucks.

Although Isuzu decided not to attend, it retained its display space, giving it over to vintage-truck enthusiasts to display their collections. The area, positioned on the main thoroughfare, created plenty of room for people to hang around and chew the fat.

New Actros on display

The far end of the exhibition space was dominated as usual by the Paccar stand. This time, the global truck- maker did away with separate Kenworth and DAF sections, displaying trucks from both brands together. This is a first for Paccar and proved to be effective.

Paccar also managed to obtain extra space for a philanthropic gesture. It supplied a DAF LF truck with a purpose-built body to be used as a flexible work, meeting, and media space with audio-visual capabilities for external presentations, all powered by a Cummins generator.

“This vehicle will service the industry in many ways through high-impact engagement initiatives at on-site events, industry activations, conferences, or at the roadside,” said David Smith, the Australian Trucking Association chair. “Harnessing its multi-purpose utility, the vehicle will have the capacity to deliver outdoor presentations, on-site health checks, host regional meetings, act as a media hub or serve as a support centre that responds to industry needs in times of crisis.”

Daimler was in full force.

The first organisation to use the new facility was Healthy Heads in Trucks & Sheds, working together with OzHelp’s driver-well-being programme, Health in Gear. They will use the vehicle to deliver free ‘Truckie Tune Ups’, a comprehensive health check that measures general physical and mental health, cholesterol, blood pressure, height, weight, sleep, exercise, and diet, administered by a nurse and a trained support officer.

This new truck was parked next to the large display area for a model that turned out to be the star of the show, the Kenworth Legend SAR. The Kenworth combines the nostalgia for the good old days of Australian trucking with the technology necessary for a truck working on today’s roads. This model gives us an idea of how the Kenworth brand now approaches the truck-buying market. Models such as the T610 and T410 use the best technology and design to create a state-of- the-art truck for a modern trucking operation. There is also a great deal of nostalgia for what many would regard as the golden age of the 1970s and 1980s.

Of course, most trucks going down the production line in Bayswater will be the 21st-century ones, but now and again, something that looks like an old-timer, but can still handle the work in the modern environment, will also be assembled on that production line. This two-tiered approach to the trucking market has developed in recent years, with Kenworth periodically releasing nostalgic throwback models that have attracted a lot of attention and many potential buyers.

Fuso’s latest heavy rigid, the Shogun 360.

Across the aisle was the imposing Daimler stand, demonstrating a new self- confidence from the global manufacturing giant. While Fuso has always been a strong player in Australasia, Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner have been through some low points in the past 20 years. The introduction of the new-gen Mercedes-Benz heavy trucks back in 2016 breathed new life into the iconic German brand. More recently, the launch of the Cascadia onto the Australian truck market has seen the Freightliner brand re-emerge as a genuine contender for many buyers.

The Fuso display shows the brand leading the way in integrating technology from throughout the Daimler family into its products. It has also gone further down the electric technology route than any of the other major truck brands in Australasia, releasing the eCanter and displaying it with a great deal of pizzazz at Brisbane. This is no longer a prototype but a truck for sale on the open market. Fuso also had its latest heavy rigid model on display, the Shogun 360, which sees a Daimler Euro-6 driveline in a modern Japanese heavy becoming a mature design.

After showcasing versions of the prototype Cascadias at the last Brisbane Truck Show, Freightliner, this time, had the full range on show. This selection of models has proved to be of great interest in Australasia, as they are the first to genuinely offer a full range of modern driveline and safety technologies, which are more commonly associated with European brands, in a North American truck. The Cascadias on display allowed the public to see the latest digital dashboard, which will be available on the Cascadia models expected in Australia and New Zealand later this year. The larger, fully digital display brings a standard of sophistication to a North American truck cabin and takes conventional trucks to a new level.

     SEA electric debuted its first series of trucks based on Hino 300 and 500 cab chassis.

On the Mercedes-Benz section of the Daimler stand, the emphasis was on rigid models. This follows the announcement that the 8×4 Arocs model can now be fitted with all of the latest high-tech safety equipment, available for some time in the prime-mover range and bound to be of interest to the New Zealand truck market. These additional systems include sophisticated control features such as Predictive Powertrain Control, which is gradually becoming available throughout the Daimler offering. Alongside the active brake assist’s advanced emergency braking system, this sees the overall Daimler brand leading the way, with highly sophisticated systems now included in all of its trucks across the board.

A major theme across many stands at the show was the subject of electric power, clearly flavour of the month (or decade?). Those manning the many displays reported serious interest in anything that included elements of the electric power train.

Daimler was the only major manufacturer displaying an electric truck, the Fuso eCanter. However, several displays emphasised the shift to electric power.

Well, that’s different…

The largest single layout of electric trucks was on the SEA Electric stand. In what seems like a coincidence, the SEA electric trucks were on display in an area usually occupied by Hino. In fact, the SEA trucks are based on the Hino 300 and 500 ranges. These trucks arrive from Japan as gliders and are then powered with the SEA Electric driveline at the company’s Melbourne plant and badged as SEA. By further coincidence, the person presenting for the electric truck manufacturer to the media was Bill Gillespie, who is now the Asia-Pacific president of SEA, but up until a few months ago was working in a role at Hino Trucks headquarters.

Other brands of electric trucks on show included JAC Trucks, which has risen from the ashes of the previous JAC organisation in Australasia to become an electric vehicle supplier. Also on show were electric vans from EV Electric, based on a Chinese van design and planned for introduction this year.

There was also much electric driveline technology on display, from component suppliers to truck manufacturers. Meritor and ZF displayed e-axles, where electric motors are situated in the position normally reserved for the differential on a conventional driveline.

Meritor 14Xe electric axle – a development for Aussie trucks.

Available from Dana was a retrofit kit, which can be used on many different truck models. This design sees a mid-mounted electric motor with a short driveshaft to the differential. This fits between the chassis members and leaves space at the front of the vehicle, where the engine is normally mounted, to become the location for the batteries required.

Another exhibitor at the show was new player, Janus, which demonstrated a replaceable battery system in a Kenworth conventional. The battery is in the original engine bay and the front radiator grille has been turned into a door that opens to allow a forklift to remove the depleted battery and replace it with a fully charged one. The team at Janus claim that a battery can be changed in about three minutes.

Elsewhere at the show, Hyundai trucks reported that it had much inquiry from show-goers wanting to talk about the hydrogen trucks, which the company is currently running in Switzerland, using fuel cells for power. The Hyundai display also included the Pavise medium-duty truck, which is being introduced onto the market this year.

The position usually occupied by Isuzu was made available to enthusiasts to show off their pride and joy.

The dependable Iveco Acco was also on display but under a new guise. This model has been with us in many forms over many years, but its latest iteration sees the Iveco range finally move away from the original International Harvester design from 1972 and introduce an adaptation of the Iveco X-Way model as a similarly specified replacement. The company was also debuting its new telematics system, which comes inbuilt and standard on new trucks in the market.

Needless to say, there were many more displays filling the entire Brisbane Convention Centre, all of which were kept busy for the duration of the event by the crowds moving through the various halls.

The overall impression was that the show had been a major success, despite the absence of a couple of the big players. In fact, anyone attending the show for the first time would assume that it was perfectly normal as all of the available space was filled in the main exhibition hall and smaller upstairs exhibition spaces.

Although the overall numbers did not break any records, attendance was comparable with previous shows. There was no indication the pandemic had affected the numbers of people wanting to see trucks and accessories in the metal and, of course, get together over a drink or two and talk about the world of trucks and trucking.

JAC has re-entered the Australian market as an EV supplier.

The new Hyundai Pavise is the brand’s new medium-duty contender.


1 & 2) The full range of new Cascadia models was on display. 3) Dana’s retrofit electric driveline.

The Fuso eCanter was the only electric truck from a major manufacturer.