Western Star has launched its 50th anniversary celebrations, announcing a range of special models, events, trade show appearances and a new American website to mark the occasion.
However, it is unlikely Australia will have much fanfare for the golden jubilee with the brand listed as a no show for the upcoming Brisbane Truck Show and plummeting sales figures.
According to president of Western Star Kelley Platt, the brand’s reputation is built on tough trucks, but its future lies in innovation.
“Fifty years is nothing short of extraordinary, but we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our customers and their desire to have the most badass trucks on the road. Whether it’s the versatility of the 4900, the ruggedness of the 6900 or the beauty and efficiency of the 5700 our customers count on the quality that Western Star is known for,” Platt said.
“While we remember and honour our roots in celebrating this historic milestone it is important that we continue to push the boundaries of innovation and toughness. Please join us this year as we celebrate together.”
While Australia does have a special ‘Road Star’ based on the 4900 model, boasting limited edition front bumper and rear bar, there is little else to celebrate for Western Star down under.
Sales have hit a 15-year low, with Western Star moving just 336 units in 2016 and following the steep downward trajectory it has been on since 2012 – the last time the brand sold more than 1000 trucks.
Western Star Australia, along with MAN and Dennis Eagle, was bought by Penske Automotive Group for an estimated $US200 million. Though the change of rights was expected to begin a renaissance, the reality has been a steep drop in sales.
Since then the brand’s market share has shrivelled from three per cent to just one per cent, fuelling speculation that Daimler could take over the brand in down under.
Western Star is owned by Daimler, with Freightliner finalising the purchase in 2000. The addition of Western Star to Daimler Australia’s line up would see it joining European marque Mercedes-Benz, fellow American Freightliner and Japanese brand Fuso.