There’s a new MAN in town

It’s a been a long time coming, but importer and distributor Penske Australia and MAN Truck and Bus are confident it’ll be worth the wait for Australian truckies.

Two years after the handbrakes were applied by Covid, the much-lauded MAN truck generation (TG) officially launched Down Under to media, dealers and VIPs at the RACQ Mobility Centre at Mt Cotton in Brisbane earlier this month.

Driver comfort and safety are clearly top of mind for the German engineers across the first newly developed truck generation in two decades, the TGL/M (local and vocational), TGS (local and intrastate), and TGX (long haul) ranges.

As MAN’s Australasian managing director Thomas Hemmerich was keen to stress at the launch, hours of research and consultation with truckies were the cornerstones for many of the upgrades.

“It’s about the drivers, which is the most important thing from my point of view. Drivers are the most valuable asset in the industry and driver fit is crucial,” said Hemmerich.

“I’m really hoping you can confirm what we think and what the feedback is from our European customers, because over the last two years since the truck launched, MAN has grown its market share and sales volume considerably against the competitors and the drivers’ feedback is really excellent.

“I’m convinced the Australian drivers will say the same because I think it’s the ultimate working place they can have. It’s a very demanding and exhausting job so we need to do our utmost as a producer of trucks to create this ultimate working place for them.”

The new TGS is easy to drive and does all the heavy lifting for you.

Craig Lee, general manager of on-highway at Penske Australia, is confident that the new MAN range gives Penske the arsenal to more than double its market share that it currently enjoys in Australia over the next 18-24 months.

MAN celebrated its best year in more than a decade in 2021, finishing just shy of 400 truck sales, and has picked up where it left off in 2022. At the end of July, MAN had sold 227 trucks across the medium- and heavy-duty sectors which is 0.9 per cent of the total truck market.

“We are going to actively take it to our competitors Kenworth, Scania, Volvo and Mercedes with this new truck,” Lee told media at the launch.

“We are very confident that our existing customers will see the benefit and value in this truck. But more importantly than that, we’re very confident that new customers will see the brand and benefit from those features and benefits we are bringing to the market.

“We are expressly confident in the performance and the delivery of the product. We’ve seen exceptional results out of Europe and worked closely very with MAN to ensure that those results are repeatable here in Australia.

“We’ve invested heavily in our dealer development and dealer network and we’re confident we are able to give our customers a product that will give them economical, reliable and effective transport solutions.”

[l-r] Randall Seymore, Thomas Hemmerich, Craig Lee and Sergio Carboni answer media questions at the range launch at Mt Cotton.

Randall Seymore, executive vice president of global commercial vehicles and power systems at Penske Automotive Group, the holding company of Penske Australia, who was Brisbane-based but is now back at the US head office, also returned for the launch.

“It’s going to be a game-changer,” said Seymore of the new MAN truck generation.

“It’s very powerful to hear first-hand how we can continue to partner with customers to support their operations.”

The launch here focused on four key pillars – ‘excellent driver fit’, ‘great efficiency and economy’, ‘optimised uptime’ and ‘strong partner’.

Driver fit

This is where much of the changes have taken place from the earlier iterations of the MAN, many of them focused on improving driver retention.

From the large door that opens 89-degrees, to the easy inclined stepping, with the large heavy-duty footholds that scrape mud off the shoes as you go, MAN has thought of it all.

Even before you make it into the lumbar supported, and heated seat, there’s a feature in the lower door that highlights just how much MAN has listened to drivers’ needs – a panel with switches activating hazard lights, spotlights, or the PTO.

As MAN’s product manager Sergio Carboni notes in his presentation, the other thing you notice is the quality of the fit and finish in the cab.

There’s also the SmartSelect control module, the first feature of its kind we’re told that allows you to toggle through all the menus and go through all the innovations that this truck brings.

It also has the longest bed in the class, over 2.1m long in the TGX range, and also boasts a co-driver’s seat that both rotates and folds down to create a handy table.

“There is more storage compartments in his truck than you’ll find in a IKEA superstore,” adds Carboni. “And along with that you’ve got this really great fridge. It’s all about driver fatigue management.”

Carboni said another great feature for drivers is MAN’s safety cell.

“On a severe frontal impact, the whole cab moves rearwards, up to 750mm, ensuring the integrity is kept with the doors so the driver and the passenger, and/or essential services can get in and out of the vehicle in a safe manner. This also complements the driver’s side airbag as well.

“So, there’s an argument that says along with the emergency brake assist, adaptive cruise control and all the other standard features, you could argue that the MAN is probably the safest truck going around today.”

The user-friendly and ergonomically-optimal cabin environment sets a new standard.

Efficiency and economy

It all starts with the integrated driveline, along with a host of improved aerodynamic improvements to the design, says Carboni.

With the MAN TipMatic gearbox, there’s some key functions like load, and slope detection, idle speed driving in heavy traffic, smart-shifting to keep the shift patterns as efficient as possible and efficient role when there’s an opportunity to almost shut down the engine and transmission to get the maximum in regards to fuel consumption.

Carboni also says the MAN medium and heavy-duty truck product range has probably now got the broadest range of engines in the marketplace, from 250hp DO8 to the 640hp D38 Euro 6e engine in the TGX range. 

“All this rides on air suspension that is firm but also able to absorb those rough conditions that are in some regional parts of Australia. And with the improved aerodynamics, we certainly have got the package to deliver our results that we’re looking for in the next few years. And just get your pencils ready for this one, our 15-litre engine has got the class leading engine brake in Australia, a whopping 840hp engine brake, in metrics that’s 630kW. That’s something like around 20 per cent more than our competition out there today.”

Optimised uptime

Fleet sales manager Kevin Copelin jumps in the passenger seat as Big Rigs gets a first-hand look at just how effortless it is to drive the TGS loaded to over 30 tonnes gross combination, with just three or four flicks of a button.

With few rivals in terms of tare weight, this truck is known amongst Copelin’s sales team as the ‘Universal Soldier’, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular and versatile urban prime mover.

For one, it’s whisper quiet – just 65dB with the windows up, making it arguably the quietest on the market – and dead easy to drive with its intuitive dash and all the controls within handy reach. 

You just select Drive in the TipMatic 12-speed transmission on the right-hand wand, and away you go.

“If you can think about all the nice features that European cars have got, in terms of those drive assist systems, these have got them,” adds Copelin.

Copelin’s role today is to show us how the modern and intuitive cabins, complemented by the fully integrated tech, delivers optimised uptime.

A prime example, says Copelin, is the MAN BrakeMatic electronic brake management system which is always active and automatically synchronises use of the different vehicle brake systems.

The less wear-and-tear on the brake pads means less time in the workshop, he adds.

BrakeMatic also does all the heavy lifting for the driver as they descend a hill, as we experienced first-hand at Mt Cotton.

As we negotiated the hills at Mt Cotton, the truck took all the stress out of the equation. When we got to the top, we took the foot off the brake and the truck ‘managed’ itself all the way down at 25km/h.

Copelin also demonstrated the handy cruise control elements of the new MAN: adaptive, normal and speed limiter. 

If you have your ‘adaptive’ set at 100km/h, then hit a town with a 50km/h limit, to stop you creeping up over that, which is easy to do after doing 100km/h for so long, all you do is set the ‘speed limiter’ with one press of the button on the left-hand side of the steering wheel.

“Then when get to other side, and want to go again, hit resume, and bang, you’re back up to 100.

“Then when you want to descend a hill, you just press the brake pedal, slow the truck down. When you get to the bottom, press resume and you’re back at 100 again.

“So really you can control the truck with three or four buttons. You can basically get yourself on the highway, through towns, down hills. It’s really intuitive, and nice to drive.”

The swivelling passenger seat is a stand-out feature in the new MAN range.

Strong partner

As you’d expect with such an extensive new range, MAN is leaving no stone unturned to minimise the total cost of ownership, offering a fully customisable warranty and maintenance and repair package to suit operators’ specific needs.

A 24/7 roadside assist package is now standard, as is a five year/1 million-kilometre warranty on the driveline in the TGX range.

“Also, with the introduction of TG3, we now have a telematics solution backed by the factory with MAN Opti-Connect,” added Sergio Carboni.

“As you know, the truck purchase is only the start of the relationship. We continue to support our dealers, customers, and drivers with our driver training programs through our ProfiDrive. We really find it extremely important that the investment continues to be profitable for our customers.”

It’s all about the adopting a ‘cradle to grave’ approach, MAN’s national service manager Dean Hodder tells us.

“That’s what we’re aiming for, to get the partnership with the customer so when he comes out of buying the vehicle, all he knows is us.”

Hodder says this approach also pays off for the customer at the end of ownership with higher resale value from vehicles with a proven maintenance record under a dealership contract.

Watch out for an upcoming issue of Big Rigs in 2022 when we do an on-highway test drive of the new MAN truck generation.

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