It was a big day at Bayswater yesterday as PACCAR rolled out the first Australian assembled DAF CF 85 and announced a $AUD30 million investment in doubling the size and capacity of the Australian production facility.

PACCAR Australia managing director Andrew Hadjikakou presided over the ceremony, which saw the first Australian built DAF, handed over to Cahill Transport’s Mick and Don Cahill in front of industry representatives, PACCAR’s Australian staff and the trade press.

While the celebration was about the first local DAF the real story was in the background and involved the investment in the facility by the remarkable PACCAR group.

The investment, which a local PACCAR executive in passing confirmed totals about $30 million is already underway and will involve a large scale building program that will see the existing factory expanded into an L-shaped building that will see the factory capacity double as well.

The investment comes directly from PACCAR HQ in Seattle, without any Australian federal or state government subsidies and will be completed by 2021 allowing the company which already dominates the heavy duty sales charts with Kenworth to lift its production volumes to match rising demand in the Australian market which should see around 14000 heavy duty trucks sold here this year.

It wasn’t that long ago when a 10000 unit HD market in Australia was seen as a healthy and buoyant number but industry experts are now saying that 15000 will be the new normal as population continues to rise and the deficit in infrastructure is tackled around the country.

Andrew Hadjikakou, said the investment was a vote of confidence in the long-term future of the Australian operation as well as the ability and talents of the company’s1200 Australian employees and the many suppliers and contractors that enable the company to manufacture trucks here.

“We will be able to build more trucks with higher levels of quality and even better safety,” said Hadjikakou.

“Congratulations to all our employees, this is thoroughly deserved and I look forward to sharing more details of our planned expansion over the coming days,” he added.

“One thing is certain, investment in the plant, equipment and training to make this day possible will impact our future in many ways we cannot yet imagine,” he said.

PACCAR currently produces 15 Kenworths a day at Bayswater and at least initially it will also be producing two DAFs every day, although PACCAR will be working hard to increase demand for its Euro designed cab over brand in the face of rising sales for its rivals from Volvo, Mercedes Benz, Scania and even MAN.

Which every way you cut it, the PACCAR announcement and the production of the first locally produced DAF is great news for complex manufacturing in Australia in the face of the closure of all car production in this country.

On the other hand truck manufacturing is in rude health, particularly with PACCAR and Volvo both committing large-scale investment locally without government subsidies and with teams of engineers working on local development programs. In time hopefully the general media and population will come to understand the importance of these operations and the investments behind them.