While Australia and New Zealand share so many factors in terms of language, commonality of customs and the advantages of being neighbours in the South Pacific Region, when it comes to truck specification that’s where the similarities end.
A recent visit to both the North and South Islands at the invitation of Penske New Zealand enabled the company to explain its planned growth in the region, since the acquisition of MTU Detroit Diesel and taking on the distribution of MAN, Dennis Eagle and Western Star products.
Investment by Penske New Zealand has resulted in new company operated dealerships opening at Wiri, Auckland and Hornby, Christchurch at a commitment of $20 million and $15 million respectively. Facilities include drive through service bays with underground pits and bulk storage of lubricants and grease for ease of vehicle and trailer throughput. Other benefits include inground brake test equipment, a suspension and steering shaker, and for Auckland, a chassis dynamometer.
Further support services are provided by 12 independent dealerships across both the north and south islands, plus the original Penske Power Systems service and support outlet at Tauranga, Auckland.
The Tauranga operation was the first Penske location in New Zealand and features a 17,750 sq.m. workshop facility with 16 bays. It provides service and maintenance support for Western Star Trucks, MAN Truck and Bus, Dennis Eagle and Detroit and MTU engines in on-highway, off-highway and marine applications, plus Sauer Compressors. There are no Penske Truck Rental operations currently available in New Zealand.
Operating hours are currently for a five-day week are from 07.00am to 05.00pm plus Saturday mornings between the hours of 07.30am and 12 noon.
“There are substantial differences between the North and South Islands when it comes to doing business, not the least being that 75 percent of the total population of 4.9 million is centred in the North,” said Jim Livermore, director of Penske NZ.
“The topography of the South changes from rolling hills common in the North to mountains, with longer distances. What does however remain the same is that all goods have to go by road,” added Jim.
“The roads are steep and windy in the south. When we talk of farming industries in the south, we are looking at families or conglomerates. There’s a mix with large companies that have come in and run (their operations) on more businesslike lines. The shift to a dependence on the dairy industry has wound back a little with a move towards sustainable irrigation,” he added.
The more mountainous topography of the South Island also determines a change in vehicle specification. With more time spent on steep descents there’s a greater application for retarders and braking systems. Torque production is the key to successful truck operation in the south, together with retarder efficiency.
With a focus on electric vehicles now taking place globally, Jim Livermore sees the advent of EV alternatives as presenting an ideal opportunity for New Zealand to be an innovator in this emerging sector of the industry.
“There is a real opportunity to introduce electric vehicles where the instant torque production of an electric motor is available to drive the vehicle from start. This improves hill climbing ability as well as startability, but there are a lot of challenges to do EVs on that scale,’ said Jim.
“MAN currently has test trucks working already as EVs, but we do not know of anyone trailing this type of drivetrain year in the area of linehaul. The challenge for NZ is that because of our topography and remoteness it can create problems others have not seen before. I would embrace electric vehicles, but I would be hesitant to rush them to market and need to determine how we would support such a move.
“The benefits to emissions reduction and improved performance and efficiency could support around town operations. It may take some further time for that to happen in linehaul.
“There could be a compromise by utilising electrically powered pusher axles on trailers where the electric motive power could assist with climbing in steep mountainous areas. But for the north island seven percent of the market is already in the over 10 tonnes category.
“When you look at the segment, people that are carting cubic volumetric loads use cabovers. By moving the air intake, they can add an extra 2 x pallet capability. For those that a are not volume dependent the advantage of a cabover is outweighed by the advantages of bonneted trucks that can come into play for logging or drill rig application etc.
“The trend is towards cabovers. Customers are more interested in fuel efficient options than moving quickly to Euro6 advances. Today they have the data that informs them, whereas in the past it wasn’t available to them. We used to go and tell the customer the expected fuel data. Today they can see the cost for themselves through telematics.
“Fuel economy is driving sales. Repair and Maintenance contract options support the operator’s own telematics systems that they have in place. There’s no need for us to provide that information, but they do share that information with us. Currently we cannot automatically access the information gained by the telematics system of an individual MAN in service, but we are currently in conversation with the operators to create an interface. It’s something we would like to do,” said Jim.
The introduction of the latest trucks in the MAN range have enabled members of the Penske sales teams to initiate driver training programmes with the D38 engine mated to the latest version of the TraXon automated manual transmission. These programmes are an important part of drive awareness of the new technology, leading to improved fuel economy.
“We educate the driver to take full advantage of the long and low flat torque curve and to optimise their driving style. The operator can see the result on their fuel bill if they drive and don’t override the software programmes. Driver training in the NZ market covers both islands includes both bus and truck operators. They receive the correct MAN ProfiDrive certified driver training which is provided for their advantage at no cost to the dealership.
The main configuration of MANs sold into the NZ market are based on the 540hp engine for general fleet use, but there are examples of operator preference leaning towards the 480 hp and 640 hp alternatives.
The logging industry in particular prefers an 8×8 configuration as well as 6×6, usually at 540 hp at with 50 tonnes permits. These are road restricted under permit and can include a rigid truck with one trailer or as a B-train application running within a 23m overall length under permit, using a Ringfeder coupling and a dolly.
The Western Star brand competes in just 3.4 percent of the NZ market for heavy trucks, mainly with the logging industry centred around the Bay of Plenty, Tauranga. The MAN brand has achieved a growth rate in market segmentation of 3.5 percent in 2018, currently expanding to 5.5 percent for 2019. The take up of Repair and Maintenance options is currently enjoying a 100 percent success rate with MAN purchasers.
Adam Wright, branch manager of the Penske New Zealand facility in Christchurch has been instrumental in the development of the MAN Road Safety truck.
Based on a MAN TGX 26.640 Euro6 Tractor unit with 640hp, the features include a full suite of safety systems that demonstrate how vehicle safety can be improved through the adoption of the latest technologies.
MAN Brakematic decides the most effective and efficient braking tool, utilising not just service brakes but also exhaust brake, Intarder and gears to reduce speed or automatically hold a set descent speed.
Adaptive Cruise Control radar detects the distance to the vehicle ahead and automatically slows the cruise control to maintain a safe following distance. The lane Guard system cameras monitor road markings advising the driver if the vehicle moves outside a set road lane.
Emergency Braking Assistant (EBA2) advises the driver when there is a risk of collision with the vehicle in front or a stationary vehicle, and automatically initiates emergency braking when necessary.
Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) comprises two main functions: DSP (dynamic stability programme) and ROP (rollover prevention). These ensure that the vehicle remains stable (e.g. on wet roads, ice and snow), intervening when there is a noticeable difference between the direction the driver wants to take and the actual movement of the vehicle. This reduces the risk of the vehicle overturning and stabilises the unit to keep it safely on track.
During a reversing manoeuvre, brake and indicator lights switch to white when not in use, to give triple the light output, improving visibility. In the event of emergency braking, in addition to the brake lights the hazard warning lights flash rapidly signalling an emergency situation to vehicles behind.
The Safety Truck is fitted with a front, rear and in cab recording camera system. The camera and recordings can be remotely accessed and can also be used as 24-hour security recording.
A 360 Degree birds-eye camera system combines multiple down view cameras into one surrounding image, to give a360 degree view of the truck and trailers surroundings. This hugely increases visibility, removing blind spots.
The combination of Xenon light and free-form reflectors results in a wide stretch of road being illuminated, without dazzling oncoming traffic.
Automatic low-beam headlights and automatic wiper system with sensors combine with supplemental cornering lights to improve visibility in the dark and in foggy conditions, while twin headlights with integrated LED daytime driving lights make the MAN TGX easier to see during the day.
Other features include tyre pressure monitoring system, anti-lock brakes (ABS), anti-spin regulator (ASR) and full electronic stability programmes.