Sometimes the signs of imminent death are obvious from a long way out and one such scenario came to fruition today with the announcement that the International brand, in Australia at least, will be buried at the end of this year.
Navistar has announced it will cease production of its International ProStar model in December this year, and will not have a right hand drive model to replace it, effectively ending International’s latest lingering and lack lustre four year tenure in Australia.
International’s Australian distributor, Iveco announced today that it had been advised by Navistar that global production of the ProStar will end at the close of 2020. and while left hand drive model replacements are being developed, the investment necessary to make these vehicles available in right hand drive, for a ‘limited number of lower volume markets’, will mean that these replacement vehicles will not be available in Australia.
While some may mourn the passing of the famous brand in Australia, the fact is that International has hardly bothered the scorer since it returned here in 2017. In the four years since the Orange Diamond returned to our roads, it has sold just 159 trucks, with the high point being the record year of 2018, when Inter captured just 0.2 per cent of the 41628 total truck market, scoring a total of just 61 trucks for the year, averaging barely five trucks a month.
The brand’s key challenge has been a clear lack of interest and resources to market the brand, on the part of both Navistar and its distributor Iveco. In time we feel certain the full facts behind the lack lustre sales performance will eventually come to light.
The latest foray by International into the Australian market followed the even more disastrous entry of the ProStar under the Caterpillar name plate, in a cynical, badly managed and plain dumb joint venture between Navistar and Catepillar, that was in a death spiral even before it began.
With Volkswagen’s Traton circling Navistar with a view to buy the troubled truck maker, there might be some future potential down under, should the takeover bid succeed. Under a consolidated Traton factory owned operation down under, combining Scania, MAN and possibly Navistar, an American style International, on a Euro developed platform, marketed by Traton, might have a chance, however only time will tell if that ever comes to fruition.
Iveco says that while its position as distributor of International trucks will cease at the end of the year it remains committed to supporting all existing ProStar customers, all 159 of them, through its national dealer network, offering ongoing servicee and parts support and honouring all existing warranties.
Iveco Australia managing director, Michael May, said that whilst disappointed with Navistar’s decision, he understood the rationale for the move.
“We are obviously disappointed that the Australian market will no longer have access to the iconic International truck brand and the ProStar range, which is providing operators with outstanding productivity and performance benefits,” Mr May said.
“From a business perspective, however, we recognise the substantial investment required for right hand drive markets which does not prove to be viable for Navistar.
This is emphasised by the meagre sales the brand has recorded in Australia, it would be extremely difficult to make a business case for a right hand drive version with average annual sales of just 40 or 50 trucks.
“The priority now, for Iveco Trucks Australia, is to continue to provide operators with a level of on-going support that ensures ownership of an International ProStar remains productive, cost-effective and hassle-free.”
The ProStar will remain available to purchase in the short term from existing local stock and through final orders placed in this year’s production.