Trucks are on the cusp of some of the most fundamental shifts in heavy vehicle automotive technology ever – and the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show will provide a showcase of this revolutionary future
Images from the first-ever Brisbane Truck Show held back in 1968 at Haulmark Trailers’ premises at Ipswich Road, Rocklea represent an industry and time long past.
Men dressed in suits, ladies in dresses, presenters announcing from the back of a Thornycroft flatbed truck, it was the start of a new generation of the transport industry, the age of diesel power.
A lot has changed in the 55 years since this first show, then known as the Queensland Truck Show, and as we move towards the upcoming event, it could be just as defining as that first show back in 1968.
Six months out from the 2023 show, we are knocking at the door of the next generation of the truck, where automation rules, electricity and hydrogen replace diesel, and safety and other technology smarts reign supreme. The 2023 show will undoubtedly be an important next step in this evolution.
Penske Australia’s Executive General Manager of On-Highway, and HVIA board member, Craig Lee, agrees.
He believes truck manufacturers and importers are on the cusp of the most fundamental shifts in heavy vehicle automotive technology ever.
“The next 10 to 15 years are going to change the trucking landscape in a way that has never happened before,” Lee says.
“Major changes are occurring across the fleet in how technology is applied to improve fleet performance, for greatly improved safety outcomes and to improve our environmental impact.”
As you walk the halls of the 2023 event and check out the latest trucks on show – from those powered by traditional internal combustion engines, like the Mack Anthem, Kenworth K220 and Freightliner Cascadia, to the greatest array of electric and hydrogen powered vehicles ever on show – think to yourself what will the trucks evolve to by Truck Show 2025?
To highlight how far trucks have come here are some of the new models expected to be on display in 2023 as well as some classics from previous Brisbane Truck Shows.
Kenworth enthusiasts were treated to an almighty trucking surprise at the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show. To celebrate its 50th year of manufacturing trucks in Australia, Kenworth decided to launch a limited-edition truck. Behold, the 50th-anniversary Legend SAR, modelled off the iconic W900 SAR.
Nostalgia met modern Kenworth design with this slick piece of kit, and it was certainly worth it as the stand had people flocking to catch a glimpse of the iconic model. Even better, Kenworth’s ‘one-day’ sales event reportedly saw over 700 orders for the limited-edition model.
PACCAR Australia Chief Engineer Brad May said at the time of the launch, that the Legend SAR was a “homage to all those that have stood, and stand today, behind the badge of a Kenworth truck”. The W900 SAR, which it was modelled off, has a special place in the hearts of truckies Down Under. It was the first Kenworth model designed, engineered and built in Australia for Australian requirements.
While the anniversary Legend SAR on display in 2021 stepped back in time to pay homage to an icon, the future of Kenworth trucks is certainly to be found in the recently released Kenworth K220.
The K220 is the brand’s most technologically advanced truck and will sit front and centre of its stand at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
The most noticeable change to its predecessor, the K200, is the operating environment. Stepping inside the K220 cab, you’ll find a more modern interior fitted with a 15-inch high-definition display as well as a new eight-inch audio-visual navigation unit that has smartphone integration. However, it still feels and looks like a Kenworth inside.
PACCAR Australia has also updated the automatic transmission, with the new K220 swapping out its previous Eaton Ultrashift for the new Eaton 18-speed Endurant XD Pro automated transmission. An 18-speed Road Ranger box is still available.
Safety-wise, the company says the K220 has the largest range of active and passive safety options ever offered by Kenworth Australia and includes adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, side object detection and collision mitigation.
This is by far the most modern Kenworth truck ever and brings the brand in line with what its competitors are doing. Like most things Kenworth, the K220 will be hugely popular.
Thanks to its historical link with Brisbane, Penske Australia‘s Western Star has had a long connection with the Brisbane Show.
Last show, Western Star paid tribute to the first-ever Western Star released in Australia in 1983 by painting one of its latest 4800 models with a special tribute livery with a blue cabin, red chassis, and heritage pearl white highlights.
The nod to history was special and had countless Star groupies flocking for photos.
Fast forward to the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show, and we will see a new Western Star released, and arguably just as important as that original 1983 Star unveiled all those years ago.
The new Western Star 47X, 48X and 49X series trucks are on their way Down Under, and the people of Brisbane are set to get a glimpse of the ‘modern’ Star.
The new X-Series from Western Star will be the first all-new Star for quite some time and will come with the latest Detroit DD13 through to DD16 engines as well as a new lighter cabin design with a modern interior.
With a menacing new design, and an appetite to succeed like the Western Stars that have come before, it’s safe to say the eventual launch of the new X-Series trucks from Western Star will have the Brisbane Truck Show buzzing.
Collaborations don’t get much better than rock legend Jimmy Barnes, Volvo Group Australia‘s Mack Trucks and Rotary Australia. Together, the three combined in 2019 to create the inspiring ‘Working Class Mack’, a special limited-edition Mack Superliner that was auctioned off to raise funds for drought-affected farmers.
It wasn’t just any old Superliner though, the Working Class Mack was specially painted to represent album artwork from Barnes’ iconic 1985 album, Working Class Man.
The Superliner featured had the MP10 16-litre engine under the bonnet as well as the Mack mDrive 12-speed automated manual box and 58
Brisbane Truck Show attendees were lucky enough to see the Mack on display at Volvo Group Australia’s activation in the Brisbane CBD, bringing that rock-and-roll edge to the extravaganza.
By far one of the most important trucks ever to grace the Truck Show, the Mack was auctioned off by Pickles, with $80,000 from the proceeds going to the Rotary Australia drought relief program.
While the Mack Superliner may be the most iconic Mack truck to ride the roads in Australia, it’s the company’s new Anthem model that will set its future course.
The next-generation Bulldog is here and the Anthem is that for Mack. Just take a look at its sleeker, more aerodynamic design in comparison to the big, and muscular, Macks that have come before it.
After years in the US, the Anthem finally arrived in Australia in 2021 – had it not been for COVID, the Anthem would have been on display in full at the previous truck show but will now have its first major Australian outing at the 2023 event.
The Anthem has a keen focus on safety and comes loaded with the Bendix Wingman Fusion safety system as standard.
It is also one of the most fuel-efficient Macks ever, thanks to tweaks to the MP8 engine and the mDrive transmission, which now talk more seamlessly to each other, and its new aerodynamic cabin.
Speaking of cabins, you’ll find plenty of room inside the Anthem. In fact, the new stand-up sleeper has 35 per cent more space than previous cabins with the intention to provide the operator with a more comfortable rest experience.
The Anthem is still ‘Mack’ enough to appeal to rusted-on Bulldog lovers but will also provide the luxuries that come with modernisation. With Mack’s parent company Volvo Group leading the way with the latest technologies, it’s safe to say that Mack is in safe hands for the future.
As a brand, Penske Australia‘s MAN can claim it is one of the oldest in the game. The German trucking giant has been making trucks since 1915, and with the recent release of its new TG (Truck Generation) range – the first newly-developed MAN truck in two decades, it’s ready to push the envelope on the next generation of trucks just like it did more than 100 years ago.
The new TG range – headed up by the recently crowned ‘International Truck of the Year 2021’ TGX model – will make its first big Australian-event debut at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
The TG range is just what MAN was looking for; an efficient, innovative and good-looking range of trucks to compete in the competitive Euro truck market in Australia.
The MAN brand, through its local distributor Penske Australia, is trying to reconnect with the Australian market by offering that ‘next-gen’ truck that’s more tool than toy.
Fuel economy is the TG range’s bread and butter, with the option of engines ranging from the 250hp D08 to the 640hp D38 Euro 6e engine (with various options in between).
The TG’s Tipmatic gearbox shift system also uses software to determine the optimum moving off and gearshift strategy in all situations in conjunction with load and inclination detection. MAN was a part of the first generation of trucks and with the TG series, it seems it’s ready for the next generation of commercial vehicles.
After many years of success in the US and many years of additional testing here Down Under, the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show was where Daimler Truck Australia finally lifted the curtain on its impressive Freightliner Cascadia.
The camouflaged “winter soldier” test unit Cascadia proudly stood on the stand, giving Australians their first glimpse of what is now the flagship Freightliner. Two years later at the 2021 Brisbane Truck Show, punters could put in an order.
The Cascadia is a huge step in innovation and technology in comparison to previous Argosy and Coronado truck models. It’s shaken the stereotypical buff, yank truck appearance and instead opts for a modern, sleek, aerodynamic design like its sibling Mercedes-Benz and its impressive Actros range.
Under the bonnet, the Cascadia offers the 13- or 16-litre Detroit Diesel engines, which are reportedly good on fuel, and inside the Cascadia you’ll find a cabin filled with lush, soft-touch materials that resemble the interior of premium car brands.
Freightliner left no stone unturned to make sure the Cascadia was right for the Australian market, and reportedly built numerous prototypes to test new components and systems locally, while also simulating millions of road kilometres with cold chamber and hot room sessions to ensure effective operation in extreme temperature conditions.
Freightliner, together with other Daimler Truck Australia brands Fuso and Mercedes-Benz, make some of the most modern, technologically advanced trucks in the world, and has demanded from itself the need to keep evolving the ‘truck’ for the future – the results of which will be on display at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show.
The year 2022 marks 50 years of operation for the Isuzu brand here in Australia, and it’s because of trucks like the classic SBR model that the company has fared so well.
Speaking of SBRs, do you remember when Isuzu found one of its old classic 1979 SBR 422 with 1.3 million kilometres on the clock and decided to restore it? The process took Isuzu Australia’s Product Development Department two years to complete and the results were pretty spectacular.
The interior and exterior were fully restored. All rust, dents and blemishes were removed, a fresh coat of white paint was applied and a custom-built body with a Tasmanian oak floor fitted, leaving the 43-year Isuzu in a near-original state.
It’s trucks like the SBR that have made Isuzu one of Australia’s top-selling truck brands, however, when compared to the latest N-Series trucks, the poor old SBR is now a museum piece.
The latest N-Series light truck range is by far the most sophisticated and advanced Isuzu to date. Inside you get a 10.1-inch infotainment screen with Apple and Android connectivity, transforming that standard bleak light interior into something a bit more user-friendly.
Safety is key with the new N-Series, with the range adopting Isuzu’s newest safety technology ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems).
Autonomous emergency braking that can detect pedestrians comes as standard, as does lane-departure warning, traffic movement warning, distance warning and stability control.
Head-to-head with the SBR, the N-Series has 149-190hp from its four-cylinder engine compared to 132hp from its 5.8-litre six-cylinder diesel.
As mentioned before, the N-Series has a suite of safety features and technology compared to the SBR’s simple seatbelts. Let’s not make a habit of poking fun at iconic old trucks, but it certainly proves a point, the new N-series – which we suspect will be front and centre at the 2023 Brisbane Truck Show – is a next-generation truck.
The hype around hydrogen trucks as a genuine ‘green’ solution to long-range transport is set to become reality.
Hyzon Motors, a US-based hydrogen fuel cell vehicle company that has recently launched in Australia, will unleash its technology here after signing a deal with zinc mining company, Ark Energy, for the supply of five ultra-heavy-duty 140-tonne rated hydrogen fuel cell-powered trucks which it will lease to sister company, Townsville Logistics. The Hyzon H2 trucks will reportedly replace its diesel equivalent trucks and avoid over 1,300 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.
The trucks will be refuelled at Ark’s SunHQ hydrogen hub, which will be co-located with the Sun Metals zinc refinery and solar farm and produce green hydrogen for internal and external customers. With Hyzon’s technology ready to go, it’s a fair possibility we could see one on display at the upcoming Brisbane Truck Show.