Modern heavy-duty trucks, when correctly serviced and maintained, have the potential to be reliable workhorses for up to 1,000,000km, maybe more. Considering the prime movers at Penske Truck Rental are changed out with less than half that amount showing on the odometer, the potential exists for these vehicles to provide a solid second life in another role.
Paul Matthei spoke with Vince Mannone, owner of VA Hire Transport, and it’s easy to understand his logic in buying the two MANs that previously saw service in the Penske Truck Rental fleet. In short, it appears he could see worthwhile value in the purchases.
“Since new these trucks have been regularly serviced according to a maintenance plan by (Melbourne-based MAN and Western Star dealer) Westar Trucks and have been obviously looked after pretty well, and, most importantly, they were available for a very reasonable price,” says Vince, “
“I like using them on local work because they are very good on fuel and the comfort for the drivers is excellent, particularly when stuck in traffic,” Vince says. The automated manual transmissions also significantly reduce driver fatigue in heavy traffic situations.”
The two MAN prime movers, one a TGS 480 and the other a TGS 540, have a lot to offer, according to Vince. He cites comfort, fuel economy, safety and reliability as being of the highest order and says that he uses the TGS 480 towing a single trailer mainly around town with some regional work thrown in for good measure. The TGS 540, on the other hand, is used to pull both single trailers and B-double combinations, doing a mix of local, regional and some interstate work.
Vince says when he bought them the 480 had 430,000km on the clock while the 540 was showing 350,000km.
Since it can take a while to achieve the best fuel economy from a new vehicle, it could be concluded that both these trucks are now at their peak in terms of fuel efficiency, with both trucks having now covered more than 550,000km. Due to its use on interstate runs, the 540 has caught up to its 480 sibling and will probably go on to clock one million km before it is retired.
“Depending on the weight, of course, the 540 is returning fuel figures of between 2.1 and 2.6km/ litre on line-haul B-double work, which I am really happy with,” says Vince.
Intriguingly, the two MANs are not the first of the German brand to grace the VA Hire Transport fleet. Vince also has a TGS 540 which pulls a Super B-double skel combination carrying two 40-foot containers, or up to four 20-footers, to and from the Port of Melbourne.
Vince says it was on the strength of the experience he’s had with this truck, which he says has performed admirably towing the Super B, that he had confidence in purchasing the two second-hand MANs from Penske.
“We have also rented a lot of prime movers from Penske to tow the broadcasting trailers all over Australia and we always found the MANs to be extremely fuel efficient and comfortable for the drivers, whether on long distance or local work,” says Vince.
He does, however, add that the sleeping quarters of the narrow-cabbed MAN TGS is not the most spacious around although adequate for this application.
“It wouldn’t really be ideal as a full-time interstate prime mover where the driver has to sleep in the truck every night, put it that way,” he says.
Another point of difference, Vince mentions, between the MAN and Kenworth K200, of which he has three, is that in his opinion the Kenworths are better suited to outback work than the European trucks.
“With the Kenworths you can go anywhere and everywhere whereas the MANs are best suited to the main highways and suburban roads,” says Vince. “But as I said before, the comfort and fuel efficiency of the MANs are superb.”