The launch of the completely overhauled HX Series means the new International truck is brought up to date to compete with its rivals in the US market. Unfortunately for us in Australia, the decision to make this a left hand drive model range only, clearly made back in 2016, means we are not going to see this model from the iconic brand on our roads.
This launch sees the International brand returning to its essential homeland in the US truck market, the vocational market segment. Twenty years ago International was the dominant player in the medium and heavy duty rigid truck market in the US, but decided to take on the likes of Kenworth and Freightliner in the heavy duty prime mover segment.
The combination of a rudderless Freightliner and some extremely predatory pricing policies from International, saw International become the number one brand in the US heavy duty prime mover market for a couple of years. When Freightliner got its act together and some financial and emissions chickens came home to roost, the International brand lost some credibility and had massive fines to pay.
Since then, a more measured approach from Navistar, the company behind the International brand, has seen the brand regain some ground and retain its strength in the vocational market. It has also attracted the attention of the Traton Group, owned by Volkswagen and owners of Scania, MAN and South America’s Volkswagen truck brands.
This move built upon an existing relationship between International and MAN, in which the MAN D26 engine block was developed for the US market by International to become its A26 engine, the 13 litre engine fitted in many of its trucks. This new HX launch sees the A26 available as a power plant and the heavier end of the range using the Cummins X15 engine up to 605hp.
In recent weeks the takeover of Navistar by Traton has been finalised. The $5 billion deal will be finalised in 2021. How this will play out long term is anyone’s guess, but it will certainly be long term. Daimler’s integration of Freightliner, Mercedes Benz and Fuso, and Volvo’s process of coming together with Mack took the first ten years to sort out and it is only in recent years that the real benefits of a global truck platform are really bearing fruit for the global giants.