The doomsayers would have had you believe that this year’s Brisbane Truck Show  was going to be a failure, but like the Y2K bug, reality is often far from the predicted disaster and  the HVIA team  did a tremendous job to make sure our best truck show  was the best it could be under the circumstances.

With Volvo Group, Scania, Isuzu and Hino pulling out, not to mention Cummins and a bunch of other long term show participants pulling out the task was never going to be easy.

Many people have asked “ how was the truck show?” since our return from Brisbane and we have to answer, “it was much better than we imagined it being!”

Despite  all the tales of Paccar being the prime shaker and mover behind the proposed TIC Melbourne Truck Show that was to have taken place in March, the Bayswater team turned up with a stand that gave nothing away and in a cheeky slap to Daimler,  its main rivals in Brisbane 21, every Kenworth and DAF on the stand was painted in blue, matching the paint schemes on the Freightliners and Benz machines across the aisle.

But in many ways it was Paccar’s party, celebrating its 50 years of manufacturing in Australia  and it presented what director of sales and marketing Brad May described as “reflecting the total product solutions customers need.”

The big attraction on the Paccar stand was the latest Kenworth Legend SAR, which the company announced would go on sale for one day only, with what ever orders it takes on the 8th July being the limit to the Legends it eventually builds. To secure a limited edition Legend buyers have to stump up a $10,000 deposit and wait till their Legend rolls down the line.

The Legend SAR is modelled on the iconic W900SAR, built and sold in Australia

from 1975 until 1985 and the first Kenworth  designed, engineered and built in

Australia specifically for Australia and which gained the nickname ‘The Nugget’ prompting  the new Legend being dubbed Son of Nugget.

Along with the Legend SAR , Kenworth had  the T410 SAR, a T610, a T360 and a K200 all of which featured brilliant blue paint finish and sensational air brush murals of Australian scenes.

The DAF display  featured the locally assembled CF 530 FTT and CF 450 FTT along with the CF 450 FTT powered by the new MX-11 engine,  with the company emphasising its local DAF CF assembly providing buyers higher levels of customisation with local engineering input and cost savings through local parts sourcing.

DAF also had the flagship XF FTT with a Super Space Cab, while the CF 530 FAT 6×4 rigid rounded out the display.

Across the aisle at Daimler, the only other heavy hitting manufacturer to honour the show with its presence

Daimler didn’t have a lot that was really ‘new’ in hardware terms,  given the timing  of the show, but with a full array of Mercedes Benz, Freightliner and Fuso models  the main focus was new variants and ‘software’ features including safety, driver aids and even autonomy as well as the first OEM electric truck , the eCanter.

Kenworth wasn’t the only one celebrating a 50th birthday with Fuso  Canter marking the 50th year since it arrived in Australia, and it has to be said that it has come a long way since the days of UFOs or Unsatisfied Fuso Owners in the 1970s when reliability issues caused early owners to advertise in newspapers. But  that was a long time ago and things have very much changed.

Fuso showcased a new upgraded Euro 6 Fighter which means Fuso now offers a vehicle with Euro 6 rating  across all segments, The Fighter Euro 6, now provides safety tech including Advanced Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning System and Electronic Stability Program.

Daimler’s Japanese  brand also launched a new Shogun 360  using Daimler’s  7.7 litre six cylinder turbo diesel developed as a 14-pallet rigid model available as either a 6×2 or 6×4 model again with a full-suite of safety tech

Freightliner had its full line-up of Cascadia trucks for the first time at Brisbane, given the company launched the model at the end of 2019, making it the first Australian truck show for America’s most popular heavy truck since it arrived on Aussie roads.

Freightliner  revealed a few weeks back that it was offering a head-protecting side airbag later this year,  adding to its steering wheel mounted airbag. In addition to the safety boost the company also revealed a new digital dash which will become an option later in the year.

For Mercedes the big news was that it has launched local validation program for an Actros that can help steer itself. The Benz  says its Active Drive Assist technology  that it will be validating down under enables SAE Level 2 partially automated driving capability, which will be a first for Australian heavy trucks.

The company revealed its validation program will consist of 20 trucks, with 15 units in Australia and five in New Zealand operating across a wide range of customer fleets.

Benz also revealed  an extension of its Active Brake Assist 5 advanced safety package to its 8×4 Arocs rigid highway range  which means it now extends across its entire Australian line up.

Down the hall at Penske had an MAN TGX 640hp with an XXL cab, an MAN TGX 540hp prime mover with an XLX cab, and a medium-duty MAN TGM 320hp 6×4 unit  on its stand alongside the US heavy iron from Western Star which showed a 4800 with a 6×4 FXC model with a 34” Starlight lowline roof sleeper and a 4900  6×4 FXC model with an 82”. The Penske display was a clean and no nonsense  stand and certainly showed the glamour end of the Penske offering.

Hyundai Trucks appeared properly for the first time at the Brisbane Show with the company’s execs telling us they would not have been  there had it not been for the ‘great deal’ they were offered by the HVIA given all of the other pull-outs.

We have long wondered why Hyundai has struggled to  make a mark on the Australian scene because the product line up it now has looks the goods and is much better than its sales numbers would suggest.

Hyundai sales boss Darryl Thornton fronted the stand which included one of its new Pavise medium duty models with a light duty Mighty on the back.  He also revealed that the brands very good but little seen heavy duty model, the Xcient would soon have a B Double rating  after initially being launched without it, apparently an oversight by previous management.

However the really exciting news from  Brisbane was the  increase in the number of electric trucks and electric drivelines on display. It is still a tiny proportion of the show and the overall market but  we believe that in two years time  the electric showing in Brisbane  is likely to triple, not just double as it did this time around.

As we mentioned Fuso showcased its new eCanter, which is the first and only OEM electric truck on the market so far. A bit further down the main exhibition hall SEA expanded on to a full-size stand  with four of its Hino based electrified light and medium duty models, in an impressive display of its locally assembled SKD models.

Local heavy duty start up Janus had a Kenworth donor truck that it has converted to an electric drive train with ‘quick’ change batteries  that it says can be slipped in and out of the front of the truck through doors that replace the grille in about four minutes, with the battery pack giving about 450km range with a single trailer 42 tonne gross it claims.

JAC trucks made its re appearance in Australia after its ill-fated and poorly executed first attempt almost a decade ago. This time JAC is leading with an electric version of its latest light duty truck and it is being imported and distributed by BLK Auto, the company that distributes BLK buses and is headed up by Jason Pecotic, the same person who  brought JAC here the last time with his then company WMC. This time around they are pitching the Chinese made electric light duty truck with a purchase price of around $150,000 and a range claimed at about 200km between charges.

Another Chinese Electric vehicle was the EC11 van  that made its debut at Brisbane  with both a goods van and a light duty bus that doesn’t look unlike a Mercedes Sprinter imported by Brisbane operation EV Automotive.

Truck component maker Dana showcased its electric driveline offerings which were the same as used in both SEA Electric’s trucks and  the Janus machine as well.

Overall the Brisbane Show was much, much better than many expected, even with the no shows and the HVIA  should be proud of what it achieved.