BTS21: Brisbane stays strong with new trucks on show

Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show will go ahead with all the optimism and opportunity that for decades has typified Australia’s biggest and brightest trucking event. Sure, a few regular exhibitors may have succumbed to ‘pandemic panic’, but for the truly faithful and the boldly confident, the 2021 Brisbane show will be a stunning panacea marking the start to far better days. Bring it on!

BTS21: Brisbane stays strong with new trucks on show
Future-proof your business by checking out all the new trucks on show at BTS21

Credit where it’s due, Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia (HVIA) has shown immense fortitude and remarkable intent to make the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show a reality.

The challenges have been formidable. First came an ill-considered and largely egotistical attempt to end Brisbane’s reign as trucking’s premier showpiece with an alternative event in Melbourne. Then, of course, came the economic and social hardships of a global pandemic. Yet, neither has been enough to stall the association’s determination to keep this vital biennial show alive and well.

But the greatest credit, of course, goes to the multitude of exhibitors who have not only refused to fold in fear of the unknown, but remained intent on showcasing their latest and greatest products to a trucking fraternity eager for a burst of glitter after the gloom of 2020.

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Indeed, the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show will be like no other, reflecting the true spirit of enduring dedication to an event that has no equal in the southern hemisphere and is increasingly regarded as one of the most interesting and innovative truck shows on the world stage.

In fact, as Europe, Japan and America continue to claw their way ever so slowly out of the pandemic mire, this year’s Brisbane show will most likely be the only event of its kind anywhere in the world.

The future belongs to those who embrace it, and with the truck market humming beyond all expectations, there will be no shortage of big name brands whose dedication to ongoing development and, critically, loyalty to customers and the industry at large, will shine in trucks, trailers and trucking equipment of the highest calibre. 

What follows is simply a speculative snapshot of what a few of the big players might have in store for Brisbane in 2021.


Stand 41 Foyer

At the Brisbane Truck Show in 2019, Freightliner’s new Cascadia conventional was a work in progress, still six months away from an official launch on the Australian market.

But now, Cascadia is up and running and, despite the disruptions imposed by a global pandemic, Freightliner principals certainly won’t be shy about putting their all-important flagship front and centre in Brisbane.

Freightliner Cascadia has big plans for Brisbane and beyond

In fact, Cascadia will be positioned face-to-face across the aisle from arch-rival Kenworth, leaving no doubt about Freightliner’s earnest intention to tackle all and sundry in the conventional class.

Daimler insiders aren’t making any secret of an intense desire to make Brisbane a major showcase for Cascadia, with particular emphasis on the model’s impressive powertrain and high level of standard safety systems.

Consequently, it certainly won’t surprise to see some extremely well presented and highly appealing 116 and 126 models staring across at the Kenworth clan.

We’re also wondering whether the multi-media digital dash display already available in corporate colleague Mercedes-Benz might make an appearance in one of Freightliner’s show trucks. We’ll know soon enough.

What’s more, it won’t surprise if Freightliner operatives are confidently espousing Cascadia’s ability to soon achieve a similar level of success enjoyed by its Benz brethren.

The lavish Mercedes-Benz display in 2019 was one of the true highlights of the show and, since then, the three-pointed star has gone from strength to strength, finishing 2020 in fourth place on the heavy-duty ladder with a highly respectable 8.8 per cent of the category.

While there hasn’t been a great deal of news on new Benz developments in recent times, it would certainly be naïve to think the German giant won’t have something special up its sleeve for this year’s show.

Fuso Shogun is set to shine again but the real star of the future will be the electric eCanter

The other big player in the Daimler fold is, of course, Fuso. The Japanese nameplate is, in fact, the biggest seller of all three Daimler brands on the Australian market and, just as it did in 2019, this year is sure to see a strong presentation of Shogun heavy-duty models. A new 360hp (268kW) rating has, for instance, been well received and is sure to be one of several highlights.

Meantime, soft whispers that Shogun will later this year be equipped with Daimler’s lively 13-litre engine pushing out 500hp (373kW) or more had us thinking the new flagship might make an appearance in Brisbane. But it seems not. A tad too early, according to one source. 

However, there’ll be no shock (pardon the bad pun) to see a number of electric Fuso e-Canters on show in Brisbane.

Fuso is a critical technology base in the Daimler group’s global development of electric powertrains and now, more than ever, electric trucks are gaining the interest of truck operators everywhere, particularly in city and suburban delivery work.


Stand 40 Foyer

No doubt about it, 2021 is a big year in the history of Paccar Australia and the maker of Kenworth and DAF trucks isn’t about to let the Brisbane Truck Show pass without getting a few major messages out to the trucking public.

For starters, it’s now 50 years since the first Kenworth truck was built in Australia and, since then, the brand has evolved to the point where it is widely regarded as the premier brand on the Australian market.

Kenworth’s new T410SAR. However, the big crowd-puller for Kenworth will be a retro ‘Legend SAR’

Maintaining its stellar stance in our highly competitive market means endless engineering initiative and this year’s Brisbane show will feature Kenworth’s latest effort, the T410SAR.

Utilising the same 2.1 metre-wide cab first shown four years ago on the T610 and, soon after, the T610SAR, the T410SAR is effectively the same as its T410 counterpart, except for a couple of notable differences, namely a set-forward front axle and a more traditional hood and grille design.

Like the T410, the new model is powered by the Paccar MX-13 engine but, unlike its sibling, the SAR version was engineered first to produce a modern car-carrying prime mover before more typical haulage roles. Either way, the end result is a truck with broad appeal for a multitude of tasks.

Coinciding with its 50 years of Australian truck building, the other big news on the Paccar front is the company’s greatly expanded manufacturing capability at its Bayswater facility in Victoria. While Kenworth continues to be the core of Paccar Australia’s operations, company executives are quick to point out the recently enhanced factory capacity – built at a cost of around $40 million – is also designed to significantly increase DAF’s presence in the market through greater local assembly.

The DAF CF85 – locally assembled and now with a lively 11-litre engine

As one high-ranking Paccar Australia representative commented: "DAF these days fills in the gaps we can’t fill with Kenworth."

Thus, it won’t surprise if the continental cab-over has a bigger presence on Paccar’s exhibit than ever before, led by the locally-assembled CF85 model, which now not only offers a Euro 6 MX-13 engine out to 530hp (395kW) but also the new MX-11.

We drove an early MX-11 last year and can vouch for the engine’s exceptionally responsive performance at its peak output of 450hp (336kW).

There are also 370 and 410hp (276 and 306kW) versions, all coupled to ZF’s Traxon 12-speed automated transmission.

The biggest crowd-puller of all, however, will be a truly special truck known simply as the ‘Legend SAR’.

A retro truck like no other, this latest recreation of a truly legendary workhorse is supposed to be a secret but we know there’s already a model being specially prepared for the Brisbane show.

Paccar will pull out all the stops this year at a show that coincides with Kenworth’s 50th anniversary

Like the Legend 900, which in 2017 drew a spectacular response from a ‘one day, one day only’ order period, the once-in-a-lifetime Legend SAR will go on sale for just 24 hours soon after the show.

Secret or not, word is out and there are reports of eager truck operators putting their orders in early. The big question is ‘how many and how much?’

Such is the SAR’s almost mystical image as Kenworth’s first all-Australian design, most insiders think the Legend SAR will easily eclipse 300 orders in one day. As for the price, it’ll be secondary in the eyes of many but one thing’s for sure, it won’t be cheap.


Stand 51 Foyer

If everything goes to plan, Iveco’s stand will have everything from a massive Astra 8x8 off-roader to its recently revamped and highly popular Daily light-duty range.

The plan, it seems, is to showcase the wide, and somewhat understated, diversity that exists in the modern Iveco stable.

The Iveco X-Way is a major part of a widely diverse model range

Now under the guidance of former senior Mercedes-Benz truck executive Michael May, Iveco Australia finally appears to be in the process of achieving the stability and opportunities that seem to have eluded the company in many instances.

Yet, unlike the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show, Iveco’s stand this year won’t include the International ProStar, following the decision last year by Navistar in the US to cease production of right-hand drive models.

Despite the disappointment of ProStar’s demise, Iveco is intent on showcasing the extent of a diverse model range that includes the advanced X-Way line-up, the highly versatile EuroCargo medium-duty contender and almost certainly, the resilient Acco.

As the Brisbane Truck Show will demonstrate, there’s far more to Iveco than initially meets the eye.


Stand 44 Foyer

Like most of us, 2020 will probably go down as a year never forgotten but hopefully never repeated for Penske Commercial Vehicles. 

In a difficult market, the three brands under the Australian arm of automotive mogul Roger Penske found the going particularly tough, with its premier nameplate Western Star acquiring just 2.1 per cent of the national heavy-duty truck market, followed by MAN with 1.7 per cent and waste collection specialist Dennis Eagle barely causing a blip on the radar at 0.5 per cent. All up, the three brands delivered just 461 units in 2020.

Western Star pulled big crowds at Brisbane in 2019 and, despite slow sales, it’s likely to do the same this year. The brand has plenty of fans

But that was last year and it’ll be an optimistic display on the Penske stand in Brisbane this year.

After missing the 2017 show, Penske Commercial Vehicles came back in 2019 with a strong presence, attracting big crowds to its stand, all eager for a close look at a barnstorming Western Star 6900 roadtrain model and the broad expanse of a comprehensive MAN line-up.

Don’t be surprised if there’s a similar performance and an even stronger presence this year.

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