The Intrigue of Inter and Iveco

By: Steve Brooks


After a protracted negotiation process, Iveco once again holds distribution rights for International trucks in Australia. But strangely, nothing has been heard from either company since the October 12 announcement

The Intrigue of Inter and Iveco
International ProStar. A sound truck with the ability to add a strong string to the Iveco bow.

 

On October 12 this year a joint press release from International and Iveco stated, ‘It’s a done deal. Iveco appointed Australian distributor of International trucks.’

Since then, however, there has been nothing but a profound silence from both brands and their respective parents, International’s Navistar and Iveco’s CNH Industrial.

In fact, other than the official announcement with its somewhat shallow notions about International’s ‘entrenched psyche’ and ‘incredible heritage’ in the Australian market, there have been few clues to the operational details of the arrangement. As this story was being written, there was not even an indication of when International trucks, namely the ProStar, will actually go on sale in Australia.

The lack of information or comment is bewildering given that International’s pending return to the Australian market was the platform for a stunning display at the Brisbane Truck Show in 2015.

It’s a silence that does little to assure anyone that International and Iveco are intent on making this association more lasting and productive than previous relationships dating back to 1992 when Iveco first took ownership of the company then known as International Trucks Australia.

The agreement announced on October 12 is effectively International’s third crack at the Australian market and there’s plenty at stake for both brands.

As one Iveco insider recently confided, "We need to get it right. This time ‘round, we only have once chance to revive the brand."

 

International ,-Iveco ,-Steve -Brooks ,-ATN2

 

Fortunately, the product appears sound and ProStar at least provides a positive platform for a solid start to this latest chapter in the annals of International in this country.

What’s more, ProStar is not altogether new to Australia, with many facets of the truck operating since 2010 in the guise of the Cat-branded CT630 model.

ProStar has a different engine, a different grille and a different badge but it’s effectively the same cab, chassis and driveline which for the past six years or so have served the Cat truck well.

What’s more, I’ve had the opportunity to travel several thousand kilometres behind the wheel of a ProStar pulling a single trailer on good roads and bad, and the impressive handling and steering quality which mark the Cat CT630 model as a truck with impeccable road manners are equally evident in the International.

Personally, I find ProStar a comfortable, easy truck to like and with a 15 litre Cummins ISXe5 under the snout, a truck with the foundations to cope with a vast range of regional and linehaul applications.

Of course, competitive pricing will be critical to gaining a toe-hold in this market. It’s to be hoped, however, that Iveco and International will not mirror the mistake of the failed NC2 joint venture between Navistar and Caterpillar which ridiculously put the Cat truck in the same price park as premier brands Kenworth and Western Star.

Again though, there has been no official indication of when ProStar will actually go on sale in Australia. There have been hints the first righthand-drive production units won’t arrive until the first few months of 2017, and more recent indications that it’ll be April or May before trucks are on dealer lots. But again, nothing official.

However, if this timeline proves correct, it’s a fair bet ProStar will again be the centrepiece of an International stand at the Brisbane Truck Show in May but whether or not it shares the same space as Iveco models remains to be seen. Corporate complexities may demand International has its own identity and presence.

Meantime, it’s probably fair to assume most Iveco dealers are positive about the prospect of selling ProStar. After all, a Cummins-powered American conventional certainly provides another string to the bow but as yet there’s no indication if all Iveco dealers will be given the nod to hang the International shingle.

 

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ProStar was a major attraction at the 2015 Brisbane Truck Show as International announced its pending return to the Australian market. It has been a long wait. 

 

Whatever the case, an enthusiastic and active dealer network committed to high levels of service and support will be critical to ProStar’s immediate and long-term futures.

What’s more, only time will tell what impact ProStar’s inclusion will have on Iveco’s current range of Powerstar conventionals. Powerstar, particularly those powered by Iveco’s Cursor engine, is far from a major player in the conventional class and the whisper is that the future of some versions is under review now that ProStar is in the pipeline.

Likewise, it remains to be seen if ProStar will at some distant stage be joined by other models from International’s US stable.

One possibility with considerable potential for ProStar is the ISXe5’s smaller brother, the 12 litre X12 engine. Australian trials of the X12 point to a highly responsive, fuel efficient engine well suited to metro and regional roles.

As it stands at the moment though, the X12 lacks a chassis to call home and while ProStar would appear to be an ideal launch pad for the 12 litre Cummins, it currently remains little more than a distant possibility. 

However, by far the biggest unknown factor in this new arrangement between Iveco and International is what effect Volkswagen’s recent 16.6 percent stake in Navistar might eventually have.

It’s no secret Navistar’s financial position is precarious and corporate heads have made no secret of being open to discussions with prospective suitors, and the suitors don’t come any bigger than Volkswagen.

Right now though, it’s all speculation and will remain that way until Iveco outlines its plans for International in this country.

 

 

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