AUSTRALIA’S GUIDE TO UTES, VANS, LIGHT TRUCKS & PEOPLE MOVERS
ISSUE 44 October/ November 2012 RRP: $7.95
HOLDEN’S Delivery Magazine is an AFMA Strategic Alliance Partner
NEW SUCESS STORY
f you thought Fiat was just a quirky Italian carmaker that specialised in making small and funky town cars then it might be timely to review your opinion.
When we mention the Fiat Group, we are now talking about a vehicle manufacturing conglomerate that encompasses Alfa Romeo, Fiat cars, the Fiat commercial vehicle division marketed as Fiat Professional, Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Lancia, and Iveco light commercials and trucks. For its flagship brands, the group also includes Maserati and Ferrari. The supply of engines for the Group is handled mainly by the Fiat Powertrain division and technology by Magneti Marelli. The Teksid division is the largest producer of grey and nodular iron castings for use in engine blocks and cylinder heads, while a further division operating under the Comau brand name is the supplier of “machines that make machines” – such as robotic welders and vehicle assembly equipment. The financial results also indicate the extent of the group’s activities, showing revenues of 21.5 billion Euros in the last year, from which it procured a net profit of 358 million Euros. Having now established the breadth of the Fiat Group business, we’ll now look at how its presence in the Australian market has changed in recent months. As part of a major restructuring throughout its global operations, Fiat Group has now taken over the responsibility of distributing its Fiat, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo and Jeep brands in Australia, ending a long standing agreement with independent distributor, Ateco Automotive. Fiat calls its commercial vehicle division Fiat Professional, and although Iveco is also part of the Fiat
FORMULA FIAT Group, in Australia Iveco will remain a stand alone, separate operation. It’s almost as though Fiat Professional has a gentleman’s agreement with its fellow Italian relation not to impinge too much on each other’s product ranges. With the restructuring of Fiat in Australia comes a greater commitment to gain market share, backed by serious investment. The existing dealer groups will largely continue unchanged, but additional dealers will be welcomed into the fold to improve reach and sales ability to a greater audience. Expect to see an increased range with the future inclusion of the Doblo, a small van to rival the likes of the VW Caddy and an instrumental part of the Fiat plan to grow its range and, subsequently, its market share. The Scudo sits happily in the onetonne van sector, and there’s been little change in its latest specification. What has changed, though, is the Ducato range of medium to large vans. Fiat’s Ducato stays under the 4.5 tonnes GVM sector, and IVECO’s Daily range extends way past that level and into the light rigid sector. There’s also a major difference in drivetrain, with Fiat staying with front-wheel-drive and Iveco staying with rear-wheeldrive. At the same time, Iveco incorporates a full chassis, the only manufacturer in this category to offer an alternative to monocoque construction. The Ducato is built in the Sevel plant in Val di Sangro between Atessa and Paglieta in the Italian province of Chieti. It’s the largest commercial vehicle factory in Europe, covering an area of more than 1.2 million square metres. The bodywork
part of the plant creates 300 different types of chassis; paintwork uses around 120 colours; while the assembly line produces more than 6000 different variations. This year sees a new range of engines called MultiJet II, all of which meet Euro V emissions standards and offer fuel economy improvements of up to 15 percent. The new engines now use a different fuel system with faster reacting injectors that can carry out multiple injections close together. More specifically, it can perform a main modulated fuel injection in separate phases and bring forward subsequent injections. The MultiJet II can manage eight injections per firing cycle, thanks to the new servo valve with balanced shutter, which offers more speed, flexibility and precision in the various stages of operation. With simpler construction, there’s also a 40 percent reduction in components. As a pioneer of common-rail fuel injection systems, Fiat has raised its injection pressures from the 1,600-bar used in the first-generation MultiJet system, up to 1,800-bar for the MultiJet II. Also new is rate-shaping injection, which involves two consecutive injections so close together that there is a continuous and modulated flow of fuel into the cylinders. This allows improved combustion with less noise and lower particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. All engines for the 2012 Ducato have four in-line cylinders, with four valves per cylinder and a double overhead camshaft. The cylinder head of the engines is made from aluminium alloy, while the block is made from cast iron. The pistons have a cooling tunnel, and the geometry of the intake and exhaust pipes has been optimised. All the engines have an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) cooler, which is controlled directly by the engine control unit. If you happen to operate your vans in extremely low temperatures, here’s one design inclusion that makes a lot of sense. In order to ensure a quick start from cold, the electric fuel supply pump is inside the fuel tank and incorporates a self-priming function in the event of running out of fuel. The diesel filter also acts as a water separator. Cold starts are handled by glow plugs in the combustion chambers. Moving to Euro V for the 2.3-litre MultiJet II has brought a nine percent reduction in emissions and consumption, with a power improvement of eight percent to reach 96 kW at 3,600 rpm. Maximum torque of 320 Nm is rated at 1,800 rpm. There’s also an alternative MultiJet II engine with a variable geometry turbocharger replacing the standard wastegate controlled turbo of the standard engine. This raises the power output to 109 kW at 3,600 rpm and maximum torque to 350 Nm at 1,500 rpm. When compared with the previous Euro 4 2.3-litre engine, power is up 24 percent and torque is lifted by 9 percent.
A new importer, improved distribution, and a stronger resolve, may turn the fortunes of
Fiat Group in Australia DELIVERY
Substance Holdenâ€™s Colorado 2WD Comes Under The Spotlight
he launch of a totally new range of products in the light commercial world happens somewhat infrequently. Itâ€™s the nature of the beast that, while cars are revamped and replaced on a relatively regular basis, change for change sake is slower coming for the load carrying fraternity.
Holdenâ€™s Colorado launched in June and Delivery Magazine has been taking a close look at how the 2WD fulfills its role when it comes to looks and practicality. Whereas new cars can be sold on glitz and glamour with a suitable amount of rhetoric, light commercials, like their big brothers, have to fulfill a role in business. Some do it better than others, but all have to be capable of earning their living. Holden launched the Colorado range with a massively expensive TV commercial showing a ute within a building site driven far faster around working plant and equipment than could be condoned in any worksite. In a short 45-second segment, Holden managed to display dangerous driving, dangerous vehicle recovery and a total misunderstanding of vehicle ability in off-road activity. The vision caused a howl of protest among off-road driving experts and industry driver trainers as to the dangerous antics of the driver. The damage to the brand was compounded by the shots of the driver coupling a chain to the rear of a bogged light truck and then seemingly snatching the stricken vehicle out of the mud. As the levels of complaint increased, the ad was eventually withdrawn and reworked with much of the offending footage removed. What the TV ad showed, from a management perspective, was that marketing and reality were about as far apart as possible when it came to displaying the advantages of the vehicle. But, unfortunately for Holden, it appears that the marketing demand for an overly visual product has held sway over a commonsense attitude of engineers when it comes to the actual on-road specification, especially for the 2WD versions. 22
STYLE VERSUS SUBSTANCE Delivery Magazine has been driving the 2WD version of the Colorado. In single cab-chassis form with a full-length tray on the back, the overall appearance from a marketing perspective is great. It stands high off the ground, looks as though it can climb Mount Everest and dwarfs a traditional 4x2 ute of a decade ago. However, is it practical for work? Unfortunately, no – and it’s all down to what Holden calls “High Ride”. By running the rear leaf springs over the top of the rear axle, the ride height is ridiculously high for a vehicle that is not intended to travel off-road.
What makes it worse, is the way the tray has to be mounted, with spacers of 300 mm filling the void above the chassis before the tray can be fitted. Notwithstanding its height off the road, it’s a good-sized tray with an overall length of 2,400 mm and an overall width of 1,780 mm. This result is undoubtedly a demand from the marketing department that can justify its actions by some consumer survey of hoons and non-users of commercial vehicles. The need to look “Macho” has resulted in the load height of the tray being 1,060 mm from the road. It’s of no consequence when photographing the ute for a brochure, but it’s a significant disadvantage for anyone who has to load it with anything bulky and heavy.
We thought perhaps we might have been a little harsh in our judgment, but our views were soon reinforced by the crew at our local rural supplies centre, all of whom looked at the load height of the tray and voiced their disapproval. There is no practical reason to the ute being configured in this way. It all comes down to the perception by marketers that it’s more important to look as though it can do the job, rather than actually being able to do the job. In single-cab 4x2 style, the Colorado ute comes in two spec options: the DX and LX.
The DX features a 2.5-litre diesel, against the LX, which enjoys increased capacity to 2.8 litres. Transmission options for the DX are for a five-speed manual only, but a move to LX brings the choice of the same manual plus a six-speed automatic transmission. Towing capacities are 3,000 kg for DX and 3,500 kg for the LX, and a limited slip is standard fitment on both models. There’s a variance, albeit slight, in fuel efficiency, with the standard DX manual 4x2 returning 7.9 l/100 km, against the manual LX at 8.1 l/100 km and the six-speed auto at 8.9 l/100 km. Emissions levels are 218 g/km of CO2 for both manual gearbox versions, and 245 g/km for the auto.
Couriers on Call
Delivery Magazine competes against the best drivers in the TNT Express Drive Me Challenge
t’s always interesting to look inside a company and discover just what skill set is needed to accomplish a work task effectively. For most members of the public, their relationship, or experience, of the efficiency of a courier company relies heavily on whether a package is picked up and delivered in time and on time.
If all events occur smoothly, the public intervention is zero. If delays occur, then the urgency of a pick up or delivery (PUD) becomes illustrated by the number and frequency of telephone calls pursuing a track and trace of the object in question. Having never been a courier means this particular journalist had no experience of the frustrations and elements of interference that face a courier driver daily. However, all that was about to change, as Delivery Magazine joined with TNT Express in the Australian segment of the company’s global courier efficiency selection programme called the Drive Me Challenge. Now in its sixth year, this annual driving competition aims to engage, educate and inspire. The Drive Me challenge targets those employed in the PUD fleets of TNT Express outlets globally, culminating in the winner from each region heading off to Germany to compete in the final event to determine the best PUD driver in the business. Those who participate in the finals become Planet Me ambassadors for fuel efficiency, road safety and customer experience amongst other employees.
Delivery Magazine joined the five state finalists competing for the title of the best in Australia to see just who would be the successful winner of a trip to Europe to compete against drivers from 19 other countries. Admittedly, at Delivery Magazine, we know nothing about the finer points of what makes a good courier, but what we do reckon we know about is driving for maximum fuel economy. Thanks to the experience we gain through working with our sister magazines, ECOcar and PowerTorque, we reckon we can squeeze the last drop of fuel out of tank, and, hopefully, run with the best figures obtainable. What we didn’t know was how we could stack up against the experience of the work’s drivers.
Couriers on Call Homebush
The scanners used by TNT Express drivers are a true testimony to the patience, understanding and technical ability of the drivers in the PUD fleet.
The Drive Me challenge targets those employed in the PUD fleets of TNT Express outlets globally, culminating in the winner from each region heading off to Germany to compete in the final event to determine the best PUD driver in the business.
An experienced operator scans parcels and packages collected, which logs the location of each item into the system. As each item is delivered it is rescanned, updating the central database in near real- time, as the package changes its location. The screen on the scanner also shows new additional work coming in, plus any queries about work for the day. There’s a push button facility for direct speech to the driver’s PUD manager for verbal assistance, and there’s also a satellite plotting system that identifies the vehicle, anywhere in the distribution area. For Dave Flaherty and I, the introduction to the use of a scanner seemed sufficiently comprehensive. I distinctly remember the phrase “no worries” being used after our introduction. Had I thought about this more closely, I would have realised that “no worries” usually indicates exactly the opposite. Off into the depot we went, where we met our first collection of boxes for delivery in the area. Jostling for position with the mainstream competitors, we found our cargo, scanned the boxes into the system, placed them strategically where we thought we could easily find them again and segmented them into the different delivery addresses. With four different destinations, each PUD driver was able to determine the order of the day’s route, independently deciding that their own personal order of running the pick-ups and drops would be the most efficient. It should be pointed out that not only was the collection and delivery of the packages being judged for efficiency, but each of us would also be judged on the manner in which we presented ourselves, and how we spoke to security guards, gatekeepers, depot managers and loading dock staff.
Saturday morning, and after an early briefing at the TNT Enfield depot in Sydney from PUD manager, Sean Streat, it was the turn of the drivers from all over Australia to show what they could achieve. Murray Henderson from West Australia, Craig Hutchins from South Australia/Northern Territory, Queensland’s Greg Langton, Drew Valentine from NSW, and Darrell Jennings from Victoria, were each supported by the respective PUD managers: Murray Mackellar from Perth, Anthony Hill from Adelaide, John Gardiner from Toowoomba, Peter Skleparis from Chullora and Brett Watkins from Laverton. Admittedly, being more or less on our home turf did give us a bit of a local advantage when it came to knowing the major roads around western Sydney. Our advantage was also increased by being joined in the cab by Dave Flaherty, National Fleet Manager for TNT, and our offsider for the day when it came to navigating between depots and operating the handheld scanner. DELIVERY
SPACE AND PA Holden’s Colorado Space Cab tops our selection for versatility – words by Chris Mullett
SPACE AND PACE
ince it launched onto the Australian market in June of this year, Holden’s Colorado has been making a strong impact on ute buyers keen to find an alternative to the now aging HiLux. Currently scoring over 12 percent of the 4x4 ute market (VFacts YTD August), it’s being beaten in sales only by the HiLux, which still retains market leadership, and by Nissan’s Navara.
E ACE Whichever way you view the Colorado, either as a vehicle developed by General Motors or, dependent on which story you believe, a carbon copy of the Isuzu D-Max in all ways
except for the engine and gearbox, it’s a seriously good vehicle. It’s also one that will win more friends as time passes and the market becomes more familiar with its attributes.
Ute buyers are now able to join the rest of the real world where safety concerns dictate much of today’s buying policy. Volkswagen started the ball rolling in safety terms by scoring five stars on the ANCAP crash safety rating scale with the Amarok. Holden continues this trend with the Colorado, joining the other successful models such as the Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max (expected rating). By comparison, Nissan’s
Navara gets four stars, as does the HiLux dual-cab and Triton dual-cab, Mahindra’s Pik-Up scores just three. A five-star safety rating is a big deal in the world of fleet purchase. Following the introduction last year of a minimum five-star ANCAP safety requirement for all Australian Government passenger fleet vehicles, big business is following suit demanding maximum safety for its employees and contractors through safer vehicles. A strong indication of where this will lead buyers is provided by BHP Billiton, which has introduced a five-star NCAP safety-rating requirement for its worldwide vehicle fleet across both passenger and light commercial vehicles. Our 4x4 test vehicle in the Colorado range is the space-cab version, powered by the 2.8-litre, in-line four-cylinder diesel that owes its origin to VM-Motori. The engine itself is built in Thailand, like the Colorado, in a factory owned by GM just down the road from the GM Colorado plant at Rayong. The space-cab version is the ultimate ute for versatility. Without losing space to the dimensional demands of a crewcab, the extended cabin enables even adults to cope with a short journey, as they sit in the rear on a short base fold-down seat. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that there are only two flip down temporary seat bases, each with a three-point seat belt. There is no centre seat option. What the rear section of the cabin provides, which is missing from a standard single cab, is space to put stuff. That includes not only tools that would otherwise rattle around in the tray, but also somewhere to actually put shopping and groceries. It’s also ideal for the dog. Access into the rear section is by a rear-hinged side door. Popularly called a suicide door, it works well by providing easy access without having to lift anything over the seat back. The other big trade-off is that no longer does the quest for interior versatility compromise the tray length for load carrying. For front seat passengers the access is easy through large door openings, and, once onboard, the seating comfort and space is as good as any of its competitors, and better than some. One addition we would like to see is adjustment for steering wheel reach in addition to that of rake, which is included. The Space Cab is available as a cab-chassis with a purpose-built tray, or as a ute with a factory-supplied tub. In ute form, it’s called the Colorado LTZ, and, with its 2.8-litre diesel, it produces an impressively low fuel consumption level of 7.9 l/100 km for the manual transmission version, rising to 9.1 l/100 km for the automatic. Emissions levels are 213 and 243 g/km of CO2 respectively. Maximum power and torque
What's on offer when your people mover shifts upmarket
olkswagen has been making people-mover versions of its load-carrying vans for nigh on 60 years. From Microbus to Bully, the name by which it has become known in its native Germany, the brand has always been one of the first-thought manufacturers for anyone looking to purchase in this market segment.
There’s an element of rhetoric in considering whether a vehicle that starts its life as a van can move into new prestige vehicle circles through the incorporation of higher trim levels and inclusions.
The often-used phrase of “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig” fortunately doesn’t follow through in terms of the appeal of turning a Transporter van into the Multivan Highline. The basic commercial traits of the van disappear as the inclusion of leather, sound insulation, captain’s chairs and high-end audio systems increase. There are some areas of operation in which the Multivan is totally unique, offering the VW all-wheel-drive 4Motion
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS technology and making this model ideal for transfers in snowbound areas to hotels or airports. But, for most buyers, it will be the standard front-wheel-drive alternative that makes it to the parking lot. Seating for seven is a standard feature, with all seats trimmed in leather. A casual glance inside the passenger compartment displays a series of sliding options where the seats move on grooved tracking set into the floor. The individual captain’s chairs can slide forwards and backwards, and also turn to face in either direction. In this way, the occupants can have a face-to-face discussion or return to theatre-style seating where every seat is forward facing. The seat tracks in the rear enable the rearmost three-seater bench to be moved forwards to increase rear luggage space, or rearwards to increase legroom. What was once known as a simple screen on a dashboard, is these days called a Media Device Interface (MDI), and, on this particular Multivan unit, one can play high quality audio, through eight premium speakers, direct through a USB or other audio storage system. The screen acts for the Satellite Navigation System and rear-vision park assist camera. This latest MDI is standard on Multivan Highline and operates through touch sensitivity, making its use much easier than previous versions that required much knob-twiddling skill.
There’s a very high degree of versatility available with the Multivan, as, when the occasion demands, all the rear seating can be removed and the area turned into a cargo space, albeit one lined with high quality carpet and with fully trimmed sidewalls. There are some clever touches, like one button remote sliding door opening and closing. That’s a great feature if you are trying to impress customers you are collecting, or, of course, if you are carrying something toward the van to load. It’s all press button operated off the remote key fob. Volkswagen has changed the way it identifies its engines, calling the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, direct injection, petrol-fuelled engine used in the Multivan, the TSI350. This identifies it as producing 350 Nm of torque through from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm and maximum power of 150 kW at 4,200 – 6,000 rpm. There are two diesel-powered, 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines available for the Multivan, with the TDI340 and TDI400 correspondingly producing 340 Nm of torque at 1,750-2,500 rpm and 400 Nm at 1,500-2,000 rpm, and maximum power of 103 kW at 3,500 rpm and 132 kW produced at 4,000 rpm. Both diesels feature common rail, direct injection, but there’s a difference in turbocharging, with the TDI340 having a single turbo versus the TDI400, which has a bi-turbo system. All are front-wheel-drive, and only the TDI400 is available with the optional 4Motion drivetrain. The only transmission available is the seven-speed DSG twin-clutch automated manual gearbox. When it comes to fuel efficiency and emissions levels, all the engines are running at Euro V emissions standards, with the TDI340 tailpipe reading 216 g/km, the TSI350 at 236 g/km, and the TDI400 at 214 g/km or 232 g/km in 4Motion application. Combined fuel consumption levels are 8.2 l/100 km for the TDI340, 10.1 l/100 km for the TSI350 and 8.1 l/100 km for the TDI400. The 4Motion application uses a little more fuel at a combined figure of 8.8 l/100 km. With a fuel tank capacity of 80 litres, one can assume the cruising range will see a maximum of well over 1000 km on each tank fill.
MEET THE iMAX
Hyundaiâ€™s people mover 54
remains great value in a competitive market ISSUE 44
MEET THE iMAX
t Delivery Magazine, we’ve been in our fair share of people movers. Some are great, some are average and some are downright diabolical.
In the great end of the spectrum, sit the Korean manufacturers of Kia and Hyundai. The Kia Carnival is probably ranked as one of the best value kiddie carriers on the market, blending, as it does, the attributes of a car (albeit one that’s shaped like a Mum bus) with the carrying capacity needed to get children and their friends to soccer on Saturdays. If safety is everything, and you like status as well as value for money, then look no further than the Mercedes-Benz Valente. This was our pick this year for Delivery Magazine’s People Mover of the Year award, and we haven’t seen any reason to doubt otherwise. The Hyundai iMax sits in midstream. It’s not as ideally clever as the Carnival, not quite as opulent as the Valente, but it’s a darn sight better than a HiAce. In fact, everything on the market is better than a HiAce.
Before we look at what you get for your money with the iMax, let’s look first at how much it’s likely to cost you to keep it. Hyundai has recently introduced fixed price servicing. At the small car end of the scale, a three-year service expectation for a product such as the i20 is going to cost the best part of $567.00, or $189 per visit. For the much larger iMax, this pricing structure rises to a three-yearly expectation of $1,047, or $349 per visit. Hyundai iCare capped price servicing does just what it suggests, and fixes costs for the first thee years of the vehicle life. Included in the benefits are free upgrades to NavTeq MapCare, Australia’s first five-year, unlimited-distance warranty, complimentary roadside assist for 12 months on new vehicles, and the same specific benefit for servicing customers up to a seven-year-old vehicle. You get a complimentary first free service at 1,500 km or one month, access to Quick Service, which supposedly completes a service within one hour, genuine parts used in the service, a free magazine and 24/7 customer support. So, while hopefully you have proven the Hyundai customer service is second to none, we’ll now look at whether you are going to be happy living with your iMax. The more van-like iLoad scored two consecutive wins in the Delivery Magazine Best Van of the Year awards back in 2008 and again in 2009. The iMax hasn’t been without its supporters either, with Australia’s seven state and territory based motoring clubs recognising the iMax as a class winner in the 2011 Australia’s Best Cars national awards, with the voting staying consistent as it recognised iMax as the Best People Mover for four consecutive years. Mark Borlace, Australia’s Best Cars Chief Judge, said, “The iMax stands out from its competition in three crucial areas, which are important when considering a people mover – its ride and handling is as good as some purpose-built people movers; it is one of only a handful of people movers that can genuinely transport eight adults with luggage; and it is extremely functional.” At Delivery Magazine we have no problem with the view of the associations, but thought it was about time we looked at any updates to the product in recent months. Back in 2011, the iMax added Bluetooth connectivity and iPod integration. The latest versions of the iMax include audio streaming with any compatible device. For 2012, there have been small but significant changes, with the iLoad and iMax range of vehicles now featuring a more fuel-efficient 2.5-litre CRDi turbo diesel engine mated to a new six-speed manual transmission. Hyundai is one of an elite group of automotive companies that designs and manufactures their own transmissions inhouse. The new six-speed manual gearbox utilises multi-cone synchronisers for improved shift quality, and includes a buttonoperated reverse gear lock-out to provide further ease of operation. The short stroke of the transmission ensures a quick and accurate shift action to further enhance the economy of the driveline.
ack in 2009, Honda released its fourth generation Odyssey with upgrades that included a new and more powerful engine. The 2.4-litre, DOHC i-VTEC engine was matched to a five-speed automatic transmission, and the safety inclusions were upgraded to include six airbags and vehicle stability assist.
At the time, its electrically-powered steering was pretty much breaking new ground, and, with interior spaciousness improved, Odyssey maintained its appeal as a crossover vehicle positioned between that of a people mover and a large, but economical, family wagon within a compact overall package. The people-mover segment is an interesting market division where relatively small vehicles, in terms of overall dimensions, compete with large vehicles that owe their origins more to medium-sized, light commercials. For this reason we see the competition start with vehicles like the Kia Rondo and Volkswagen Caddy Life at the smaller end, moving on through the Citroen C4 and Picasso, the SsangYong Stavic and Toyota Tarago.
Once you get into the large sector it brings in the heavyweights of the Volkswagen Transporter and the Caravelle, the Mercedes-Benz Vito and its new upper specâ€™d Valente model, through to the Kia Carnival and, fellow Korean, the Hyundai iMax. These are all priced under the ceiling of $55,000, but, of course, there are higher value people movers available, such as the Volkswagen Multivan, Chrysler Voyager and Mercedes-Benz Viano. So far this year (YTD Feb VFacts), the Odyssey is holding 22.4 percent of market share in this segment, selling 381 units, following the market leader the Kia Carnival, which achieved sales of 516 units (30.3 percent). The third place Hyundai iMax comes in with 329 units and 19.3 percent, and the Toyota Tarago comes in at fourth place with 12.9 percent and 220 registrations. For the full year of 2011 (VFACTS), the Carnival trounced all-comers with sales of 3,595 units and a market share of 36.2 percent. The iMax came in second with 1,922 sales and 19.3 percent, the Odyssey in third place at 1,178 units and 11.9 percent, closely followed by the Dodge Journey with 10.2 percent and 1,228 units. In the over $55,000 segment it was Volkswagen that made all the running with 783 sales and 66.8 percent of that segment.
ODE TO THE ODYSSEY For 2012, Odyssey’s four-cylinder, in-line petrol engine remains the same, with maximum power of 132 kW produced at 6,500 rpm and peak torque of 218 Nm rated at 4,500 rpm. Two different trim levels differentiate what’s on offer, with the standard model differing from the Odyssey Luxury, visually, by the tyre and rim fitment. The standard spec runs with 215/60R16 tyres on 16-inch alloy rims and the Luxury version takes 215/55R17 tyres on 17-inch rims. The Luxury version also gains a powered, sliding sunroof and some side-skirts and external trim upgrades. Trim material changes also apply to the Luxury model, which gains leather trim, and the third row of seating is power retractable. Headlights also receive an upgrade, moving to High Intensity units (HID) with an onboard washing system. It’s the interior seating versatility that originally created all the interest in the Odyssey, with a third row, for small children, that provides two seats. When not required, the third row tumbles backwards into a recess in the floor, where it sits on top of the space saver spare tyre and creates a flat floor, in what would normally be the rear section of a typical wagon. Most of the specification comes as standard, and this includes a Sat/Nav system with a colour, touch-sensitive screen that sits within the dashboard centre console, where it
also handles the audio selection. This is a system with AM/FM radio, MP3/WMA compatible CD player, DVD tuner, reversing camera and live traffic updates. Much of the audio options and functionality are controlled by switchgear on the steering wheel, where you’ll also find controls for cruise control and the Bluetooth connections for a mobile phone interface. While the Odyssey continues to provide a family with the versatility of carrying up to four normal-sized passengers, plus the two little people in row three, time and design ability has moved forwards, and what was considered to be groundbreaking a few years ago is now relatively commonplace. There are now a lot more multi-passenger vehicles available as an alternative, and, unfortunately for Honda, many of them provide a better overall design with more up-to-the-minute styling and appearance. Considering that the Odyssey first made its appearance in Australia as far back as 1994, it’s stood the test of time well. Current pricing comes in at $37,100 for the standard and an increase to $44,920 for the Luxury version, which is actually around $4,000 lower than it was in 2011. Performance from the four-cylinder engine is quite spirited, and, with the five-speed automatic, the power comes through smoothly, with plenty of energy left for overtaking.
As one of the early people movers, Honda’s Odyssey broke new ground. Today that ground cover is looking rather dated DELIVERY
new six-speed fully automated manual transmission – named ProShift 6 – is initially available as an option on FC1022 and FD1124 variants of the medium-duty Hino 500 Series. In this area, it competes with arch rival, Isuzu’s F Series, in the 10.4 to 11-tonne GVM market. There is no doubt Hino is pleased at its market position so far this year. Even before the tsunami hit in 2011, there was a lack of supply facing the Australian market, and the company suffered at the hands of new light-duty models from Isuzu and Fuso dumping US EPA04 stock in the market. It has also suffered in the last 3.5 years by not having an automated transmission option for its range. However, this year there has been a massive turnaround, and the success of Hino’s 300 Series is evident as Hino’s sales figures show some impressive results. Chairman and CEO of Hino Motor Sales Australia, Ken Sekine, said Australia remains a very important market for the brand, and he is proud of Hino’s recent performance in the market.
“The market is up eight percent, and our sales are up 20 percent,” he said. However, he was quick to point out that market growth isn’t consistent across all market segments. “The light-duty market is actually down three percent, the medium-duty up only four percent, and the heavy-duty is up 22 percent. The Class 8 section and above, over 500 hp, is up 34 percent, and I am sure that is a reflection of the two speed economy.” He said Hino’s key target markets of retail and housing construction is very soft at the moment – making the company’s recent sales results even more impressive. “The market we sell into is still suffering a lack of confidence and [issues] getting finance is having a dampening effect,” he added. Australian truck buyers demand a high specification and choice, according to Lotter, and that is why Hino needed to bring out an AMT to compete with the Isuzu F Series medium-duty range.
“Hino has had a massive sales year in 2012, with year-todate figures of 2,717 units sold till August translating to a 20 percent rise,” he said. He attributed part of its success to the new 300 Series and hybrid models available, and pointed to an even stronger performance with the addition of the new ProShift 6 model 500 Series. Hino President and Chief Operating Officer Steve Lotter said the company has boosted its sales well beyond the market expectation, but truck sales statistics across the board point to a divided economy.
Chris Smith drives Hino’s latest ProShift 6 and finds the new self-shifting AMT can offer some major Benefits to fatigue reduction and lessen driveline wear and tear 64
WHAT’S IN THE BOX “With the sale of our new ProShift 6 models, we expect the continuation of the upward sales trend to continue,” Lotter said. The ProShift 6 AMT now gives the 500 Series the choice of three transmissions: manual, automatic and AMT. The bottom line is an important factor in buying a product this translates directly to a whole-of-life cost of a vehicle, including initial cost, service costs, component wear and fuel use, and AMTs offer savings across all of these areas.
Understandably, AMTs and automatics are growing in popularity and now account for 20 percent of vehicle sales in Australia. These figures are rapidly trending upwards, and the prediction is a doubling of the percentage of these units in the next three years. Hino could be seen as a Johnny-come-lately on the AMT scene because it is so far behind rival and market leader, Isuzu. However, Hino has had ProShift technology in its domestic market over 10 years. The reason why it hasn’t come to Australia earlier is partly to do with getting it right for the market, explained Hino Australia Divisional Manager Product Strategy, Marketing and Dealer Development, Alex Stewart. “Hino engineers have made a number of significant upgrades to the ProShift 6 transmission in readiness for Australian operation. The Australian versions of the FC and FD are more likely be used in metro and on-highway applications, as opposed to short trip work in other markets,” said Alex. “Engineers have developed the Australian version for maximum durability and efficiency at all road speeds, utilising a unique final-drive ratio, and optimised computer shift control. “Australian versions are also fitted with a larger-capacity oil sump for hot and heavy conditions,” he said. The FD range has had a major upgrade, with GVM increasing from 10,400 kg to 11,000 kg, a front axle capacity upgrade, a suspension upgrade and a tyre specification change.
CHINA CALLING LAUNCH
Is JAC going to be Just Another Company, or will it become a major force in light and medium-duty trucks? We look at what’s on offer
fter the pre-event publicity, trips to look at manufacturing plants in China, briefings on engine development by Cummins engineers and discussions with its importers, it’s now “Game On” for JAC trucks as the company markets its products for the first time in Australia.
JAC is releasing three models, prior to Christmas, in weight categories of 4.5 tonnes, 6.5 tonnes and 7.5 tonnes. Not surprisingly, these are called the J45, J65 and J75. We’ll look at the plus points first. The engine in each case comes from Cummins. The ISX is available in two power and torque outputs: the J45 taking the 2.8-litre ISX, and the J65 and J75 models the 3.8-litre ISX. Power and torque outputs see the 2.8-litre produce 110 kW at 3,200 rpm and 360 Nm at 1,800 rpm, or, for the 3.8-litre, at 105 kW at 2,600 rpm and 450 Nm produced from 1,2002,200 rpm. The characteristics of each engine obviously vary, but it is unusual to see a higher capacity engine produce less power, albeit with higher torque levels. In some other markets, the 3.8-litre is rated at 125 kW and 600 Nm of torque, but this is currently not in consideration for our market. It’s a modern, four-cylinder diesel with single overhead camshaft and 16-valves, using a high-pressure, common-rail, direct injection system and featuring a turbocharger and air-toair intercooling. An exhaust brake is standard and operated off a steering column stalk. According to Cummins’ area sales engineer, Ron Dean, the ISX engine already has quite a following in Australia through its availability in current bus and coach chassis.
“By 2013, we shall have 3,500 ISX engines in use in Australia. Standard servicing will be through JAC dealerships, but also optionally available through all Cummins service outlets. The oil drain intervals are at 20,000 km periods and the lubricant used is a standard mineral oil,” Ron added. Both engines are Euro V emissions standards with SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) using Urea/DEF contained in a 16-litre tank. “In urban conditions we would expect perhaps a 3.0 percent Urea/DEF use, varying to 7.0 percent for on-highway work,” said Taren Mutch, JAC national service manager. For the J45, with its GVM of 4,495 kg, the standard gearbox is a five-speed ZF, but for the J65 and J75 this changes to a six-speed JAC LCT46 cable-operated six-speed. An Allison automatic is expected to become available within three months of the range being on sale. For our first drive, we had the opportunity to evaluate two different J75 units, both fitted with bodies by Genuine Truck Bodies of Dandenong – one as a curtainsider, the other as a box body with tailgate. JAC already has a bodybuilding structure in place, offering pre-bodied traybacks with alloy drop-sides, ladder racks, bull bar, tow bar and canvas seats covers that will be marketed as JAC PACK. While this concept uses Australian suppliers, expect to see factory supplied tipper variants join the range soon. With both trucks loaded with 1.5 tonnes of payload, we expected each example to behave identically, but that wasn’t to prove the case. The first J75 immediately showed gearshift selection problems, making it very difficult to slot through the six-speed gearbox, where first is constant mesh and the remaining second to sixth ratios are synchromeshed.
CHINA CALLING The second concern related to the steering accuracy, where there was little evidence of any self-centering of the steering and the on-road control was vague. On freeway driving, there was an obvious tendency for the vehicle to wander within the lane markings, requiring constant correction from the driver. Switching to vehicle-two produced totally different results, with more steering â€œfeelâ€? evident and a significantly better shift quality from the cable-operated gear selection. What this shows is that JAC is going to have to ensure that vehicle predelivery inspections are completed diligently, and that where different options, such as alternative steering boxes or revised steering geometry, are available, they are considered carefully for our market requirements. Currently, the JAC truck models are using a JAC steering box, but as the Australian importers get more time to evaluate these early imports, we may well see a change to the ZF steering boxes already fitted to imported Higer bus and coach chassis. In all fairness to JAC, the vehicles driven were the first to arrive in the country and did not have any on-road kilometre distance under their belt. The vagueness of the steering is also something we have encountered on Hyundaiâ€™s light truck product, showing, perhaps, what is acceptable in China or South Korea, is not necessarily going to be adopted easily, without question, in our more sophisticated market. Whatever the reason for our concerns here, the final product arriving on sale should exhibit improvements, showing at least that constructive input from the client, or, in this case, the media, can result in change for the better. The use of a full air brake design using a Wabco four-channel ABS (anti-lock braking) system with dual circuit, leading and trailing shoes and drums is to be applauded. This is quite a departure from the hydraulic system (still fitted to the J45) or air/hydraulic systems available on competitor product. One addition that would improve startability, especially for a novice driver, would be to include a hill-start assist function, holding on the park brakes, momentarily, to avoid the risk of roll back. The ride comfort is harsher than the current Japanese competition, and this results from JAC fitting a nine-leaf, semi-elliptic spring pack on the front beam axle, plus an eight-leaf rear with an additional six helper springs. The rigidity of this system is, we believe, a testimony to the overloading tendencies of Chinese operators. As any visitor to parts of Asia would know, it often appears that the GVM figure becomes confused as being the payload figure, and, consequently, manufacturers often plan for the worst-case scenario.
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