EXCLUSIVE-Fuso to sell Indian built trucks in Australia?

Richard Eyre’s new globetrotting role has put trucks from the sub-continent on the Australian menu!

The news that Richard Eyre would be moving out of his role as general manager of Fuso Trucks in Australia to take on the dual role of GM of Strategic Partners and Business Development for Daimler Truck and Bus in Australia and also regionally for Daimler Trucks Asia (as reported in T&TT issue 104) took the industry by storm when it broke in July.

Based on the news Eyre granted T&TT editor Allan Whiting an interview for this issue and quietly dropped the news into the conversation that the company is likely to be sourcing Fusos from India for the Australian market.

This is likely to really shake things up in the light to medium duty market and give Fuso a very well priced and specced option in one of the most competitive market sectors in the industry. It will certainly have execs at both Isuzu and Hino sitting up and taking notice.

Eyre told editor Whiting that India can supply a line of Fuso based trucks to fill the gap between its light-duty Canter and the Fighter medium-duty range.

As you can read in our story on page 20 of this issue Eyre would not be drawn on detail but our investigations leads us to believe that the most likely contenders will be the trucks sold in India as the BharatBenz 914, a 9.6 tonne GVM 4×2 rigid powered by Fuso’s four cylinder 3.9 litre diesel along and the larger BharatBenz 1214, a 12.8 tonne GVM 4×2 rigid version powered by a larger six cylinder engine. There may also be a 6×4 model that will also come here from the sub-continent.

Exactly what spec and engine/driveline the Indian trucks come with is yet to be decided but it’s fair to say that anything that is brought here will be tailored to our local demands and would need to meet the latest emission and safety expectations. Eyre made it clear the trucks will be badged and branded Fuso in Australia.

The 914 and 1214 are based on the Fighter chassis using a Canter cab and manufactured in Daimler’s state of the art factory in the suburbs of Chennai, which is just over three years old, a factor which should ensure high manufacturing standards.

The Indian sourced Fusos may open the gates to a range of Indian built trucks from other manufacturers as well. T&TT has been told that a number of different companies are looking closely at importing Indian built trucks. Indian giant Tata, which already sells its utes here via its distributor, Fusion Automotive, a subsidiary of the Walkinshaw Group which also runs Holden Special Vehicles and the Holden Racing Team. Fusion and Tata has looked closely at the possibility of selling its larger trucks here. It is understood a number of key Tata executives were keen observers at the Brisbane Truck Show earlier this year.

There have also been strong rumours that a range of Nissan light duty trucks built in India might be Australia bound while a local bus importer with links to India’s Ashok Leyland corporation has been investigating the Avia range of light duty trucks which could potentially come from India.

See the full story and interview in the October/November edition of Transport & Trucking on the newsstands and in the post on 15th October