Iveco has delivered on its promise to expand its locally assembled model range by announcing that the previously imported Stralis range will now be assembled locally at the company’s Dandenong factory.

Previously sold as the Stralis ATi – in its fully imported guise, the locally built Stralis will drop the ‘i’, which signified imported and become known simply as the Stralis AT.

Iveco says local assembly of the AT will commence in the first quarter which indicates they will start rolling down the line at Dandenong sometime in the next four weeks.

T is good news for   the hard hit local vehicle component industry, which has suffered with the demise of local car assembly at Ford, Toyota and GM in recent months.

Iveco has indicated it will source selected components including mirrors, wheel angles, trailer connections, batteries, wheels and liquids locally as part of the Stralis assembly program.

Iveco says that I\in the longer term the positives are even greater – the addition of a second Stralis model to the local manufacturing mix providing economies of scale, increased commonality of parts and a strong business case to further increase the scope of local manufacturing works. As a result, in the future Iveco’s Australian workers will have greater involvement in the assembly process of these models.

The addition of the Stralis AT to the local production mix has also seen the Dandenong facility undergo investment in tooling and software to calibrate the AT’s adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning systems, and in doing so introduced new technology to the site that could also be used for other models in the future.

Iveco Australia Marketing Manager, Darren Swenson, said the increase in local production and development highlighted the company’s commitment to Australian manufacturing, and was proof of the high importance in which this market was held by Iveco globally.

“Iveco is one of few truck brands that continue to manufacture here – this latest expansion in Australian-based production demonstrates the company’s commitment to having a strong local manufacturing presence,” Mr Swenson said.

“The addition of Stralis AT variants to the local production mix along with the validation of new power plants and other initiatives is great news for the local workforce and our third party parts suppliers but also for Australian truck buyers who can further reap the benefits that locally-manufactured vehicles provide.

“The expansion of local production not only reflects a strong belief from Iveco Australia that local manufacturing is sustainable, but the initiative is also strongly supported by Iveco’s parent company, CNH Industrial,” Mr Swenson said.

Iveco also says Australian buyers will enjoy several benefits from the local production of AT models including greatly reduced lead times from vehicle order to delivery, and the ability to customise to order by adding factory-fitted special options and local accessories.

Iveco’s local engineers are also heavily involved in the installation of new Euro 6-rated Cursor engines for both the AT and AS-L variants. The move towards Euro6 is in keeping with Iveco’s broader global position.

The Australian engineering team is now continuing its real market testing on a selection of these engines. For many months, a number of vehicles have been amassing hundreds of thousands of validation, compliance and general testing kilometres in real-world fleet conditions prior to their introduction to the production line.

Iveco claims that during the evaluation phase, the vehicles will cover a minimum of 300,000 kilometres each, with performance data being downloaded and analysed on a weekly basis. The trucks’ fluids are also being sampled every 25,000 kilometres.

The local development and validation is being undertaken in conjunction with FPT (Fiat Powertrain), who have the ability to monitor the vehicle from the other side of the world with a telematics system.

The Stralis AT and AS-L ranges join several other of Iveco’s locally manufactured models including the ACCO – which has been built in Dandenong for more than 40 years – and Delta and Metro bus chassis.