Following the premiere of Outback Truckers on the Seven Network – there are many angry Australian Truckies – join the conversation on the Long Highway
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Tonight the Volvo FH Series was launched to the world from Gothenburg, Sweden. What we saw tonight was a drastic makeover of the now 20 year-old FH.
Received by an audience of 1,000 truck owners and media in the Scandanavium centre in Gothenburg, the launch celebration was viewed by an estimated more than 10,000 people around the world on a webcast.
France, Spain, the UK and Belgium had similar launch parties and participated in the live webcast in a program reminiscent of the Eurovision Song Contest.
The new truck has an aggressive front end, a totally restyled cab and was received positively by truck operators and other members of the media I spoke to.
A long list of features is incorporated into the new series of trucks, which I will cover a little later.
Of significance however are fuel saving features:
The I-See feature works with the I-Shift automated transmission and can ‘remember’ hills and climbs on a given route. Using a combination of computing technologies and GPS, the I-See remembers a particular hill and next time it is driven over, the computer changes gear at the most efficient points to improve fuel economy – up to five per cent improvement is possible with this feature, Volvo says.
Another fuel saving package is I-Torque, part of the new driveline. President of Volvo Claes Nilsson told us that I-Torque and I-See working together can improve fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent.
In Europe, Volvo is offering a 100 per cent ‘up time’ package relying on the wireless monitoring of individual trucks by service personnel.
In a media release issued tonight, Claes Nilsson says, “The Volvo FH series represents a paradigm shift. This becomes evident when we use remote online communication to connect the truck directly to the workshop.”
The FH will be available fitted with the big 750 hp 16 litre engine in Europe. It is still undecided if this engine rating will be available in Australia when the new FH comes on the market in 12 to 18 months time.
Gothenburg, Sweden Wednesday September 5, 2012: The hype in the southern Sweden city of Gothenburg is building today to something of a frenzy with two thousand Volvo owners and operators, journalists and Volvo personnel from around the world gathering for what is touted as the world’s biggest truck launch this century.
The new Volvo FH prime mover will be revealed to the world this evening. Even with the high level of promotion, the actual look of the new truck has remained a surprisingly well-kept secret right up to today. Other than a glimpse of trucks in a Volvo produced video purported to be new FHs, no one is really sure what will be revealed tonight.
The video features the now world-famous ‘ballerina stunt’ where a tight-rope walker crosses a rope stretched between two prime movers travelling towards a tunnel at 80 km/h. More than five million people have seen the video released on YouTube.
Gothenburg is today abuzz with the anticipation for the new product, posters and giant signage can be seen all over the city. People are talking about the truck everywhere it seems, and while this level of excitement seems a little strange to a laid-back Australian, the Volvo empire is extremely important to this city of 900 thousand people.
And like so many others, I wait to see what the evening reveals.
Alice Springs, Sunday night. The 2012 Truckies’ Reunion with the new additions of the Truckin’ Life Truckies’ Day and the Rig of the Year Presentation is over. Four days of catching up with old mates, meeting new ones. The Rig of the Year convoy and presentation was an outstanding success. And everyone I spoke to seemed to think the entire weekend was an outstanding success. And quietly, tonight with it all behind us, I think they’re right. I think we have brought something new to the Reunion weekend … and yes I’m very happy with Truckin’ Life’s involvement.
At the presentation this morning, I presented Julie Gavin with a cheque for $5,000 as winner – the prize money coming from Truckin’ Life and therefore from all the readers who buy the magazine – so thank you one and all. Cat Trucks supported the presentation event very generously with the lunch and supper and entertainment. Jeff Tyzack gave Julie a very nice gift of Cat products.
I made public today the exciting news that Shell Rimula will be partnering with Truckin’ Life for the Rig of the Month / Rig of the Year program for 2013. This completes another circle for me as Shell and Truckin’ Life partnered the Rig of the Year back in the 80s and 90s. Anne-Marie Curtis from Shell presented Julie Gavin with a rather large Shell Card worth $5,000 to help with the fuel to get to Alice Springs.
Julie Gavin immediately donated the $5,000 from Truckin’ Life and the $5,000 from Shell to the McGrath Foundation to assist in building awareness of breast cancer.
The 2012 Truckies’ Reunion was a great time, all four days of it, packed with things to do. There were 127 inductees to the Wall of Fame – some great old veterans of the road identified and remembered forever at this sacred site of the Transport Industry.
The gala dinner on Saturday night gave everyone a chance to let their hair down a little and the dancing went late into the night.
Talking to Liz Martin, the driving force behind the Hall of Fame and the Reunion, a short time ago she told me she was ‘over the moon’ with the event this year, and said the ‘new’ events (Truckies’ Day and Rig of the Year) give visitors more and more reason to make the trip the Alice Springs. I have to say I agree with her.
Alice Springs. The first Truckin’ Life Truckies’ Day is over. I think something new has been started, something that could grow to an event of some significance. It has been a fine day.
This morning I was unsure of myself in what we have bitten off. I’m never really comfortable with public speaking – but in the early morning I wasn’t at all sure if I’d have anyone to public-speak to.
You see the Truckies’ Day is a new idea and I had no idea if people coming to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame’s 2012 Truckies’ Reunion would make the effort to come a day early to participate in our Truckies’ Day.
Bright and early the Truckin’ Life crew was putting up the banners and posters and filling the 150 give-away bags. The Mack / Volvo people were there too, a gleaming MP10-powered Super-Liner parked in place, the first MP10 sold into the Territory.
The people did come, well over 150 by the end of the day and from all accounts, everyone enjoyed themselves.
My goal was to put on a day with an end result that drivers, owner drivers and fleet owners could feel good about themselves and the essential role they play in keeping the fabric of Australia together.
Standing on the little stage at the National Road Transport Hall of Fame I look out over the people under the bush shelter. A bit of quick mental arithmetic tells me there is in the order of more than an aggregated 2,000 years of experience of the roads of Australia sitting in front of me. You can feel the knowledge and wisdom resonate. I might be in my sixties but a feel like a little boy with these folk.
At the end of the day we achieved the goals set for the day. It was a very special day. I have the gut feeling that if we can keep our hands on the wheel of this event, it will grow and become very significant where the people who keep the transport industry going, those men and women steering the trucks and keeping them on the road can get together and take a look in the mirror and say, “Yep, we are doing OK!”
One of the joys of this job is meeting the characters. This week I spent time with Jim Hair and his truck, the Mack Super-Liner MkII he calls the Old Warrior. Talk about ‘old school’, Jim does all his own mechanical work, including repowering the Old Warrior with a 500 hp US Army tank engine. I spent a couple of days in the hospitality of Jim and wife Jan. Picked up a load of cattle from on the edge of the Carnarvon Ranges and a road train of hay from Moura. Even broke down on the way home and allowed Jim to show his ‘bush mechanicin’ expertise. The Old Warrior story will be coming up on a Truckin’ Life DVD later in the year.
The Edith River Bridge (low version) was knocked out of action this past Wet Season. I drove across it this morning and all is fixed and taking four lanes of heavy freight traffic as well as the year’s tourism onslaught.
Yet the Barcoo Bridge down in Queensland with much the same traffic lies broken in the sun and has done so for more than 18 months. Those who reckon Queensland suffers from the Brisbane-centric views of politicians have been proved right yet again.
A special video feature on the Barcoo Bridge is coming up on the Truckin’ Life DVD that will be free with Truckin’ Life going on sale August 22.
I’m in Perth and have just caught up with Julie Gavin who drives, loves and cares for the 2012 Truckin’ Life Rig of the Year. Truckin’ Life readers voted overwhelmingly for the pink Western Star with almost double the votes of the nearest contender. I had a chance to congratulate Julie and the owner of the truck, Gavin Transport based in Welshpool, Perth. I realised today, travelling with Julie north of Perth with a grader on board that this is a very worthy winner. Not just a show pony, this is a real working truck, one of Gavin Transport’s 30 truck fleet. In fact Julie has clocked up 7,000 km over the past week.
CONGRATULATIONS JULIE GAVIN AND THE PINK STAR.
And congratulations to all other Rigs of the Month in the 2012 competition. Particularly the runners up: Craig Membrey with ‘Rowan’ (24% of votes) coming second and Nick and Lindy Annett (9% of the vote) third. The Pink Star received 41% of the total votes.
You, the readers, have voted and made the decision. Congratulations to you also, you picked a good one.
The official presentation of the Rig of the Year will take place at the Truckies’ Reunion and the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in August. Reckon everyone should try to get there, it’ll be a hoot!